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Petra

PETRA (pē'tra). Translates sela‘, meaning rock, cliff, or crag, and, as a proper noun, seems to refer to one or two places in the OT (Judg.1.36; 2Kgs.14.7; Isa.16.1; niv “Sela”). No certain geographical identification is possible, though the second reference may be to the Petra of later history, the “rose-red city half as old as time,” of Dean Burgon’s sonnet, and capital city of the Nabateans from the close of the fourth century b.c. until a.d. 105, when it became part of the [[Roman Empire]]. The town lies in a basin surrounded by mountains. The town’s considerable ruins are not impressive, even though Burgon’s eulogy is often quoted. The main curiosities of Petra are the narrow canyons that form its approaches, and the rock-hewn temples and tombs in the surrounding cliffs. Nothing is known of Petra’s history before the Nabateans took over in 312 b.c.