Who shall lead me into a strong city? Ps 60:9; 108:10 Much has been written on the subject of Petra being the strong city of Edom, mainly because of the spectacular ruins that exist in the location. Many items written about Petra are clearly spurious. Why would Jebel Hauran or Mt Aaron be the place adjacent to Petra be the final resting place for Aaron when Israel did no pass through the land of Edom enroute to the promised land, Edom even coming out from their land to attack them? Num 20:20 The other mythical connections such as Wadi Mujib or the valley of Moses being the place where Moses smote the rock etc are equally fanciful. The question then arises, where is strong city of Edom?
The geography of the land of Edom dictates it’s own terms, with geographical barriers dictating it’s location. The western approach is protected by the abrupt nature of the mountains of Edom that act like a fence, and only interrupted by some brief and tortuous punctuations such as at Feinan or Punon, which would prove difficult to enter due to unsecured supply lines across rugged territory. Three strategic towns are located on the northern approaches to the land of Edom. These are Teman, Selah and Bozrah, located at modern Teffeilah, es-Selah and Bosariah respectively. The function of Bozrah is the clearest example of a well-fortified city on an abrupt rise with strong fortifications as seen in the ancient gate houses in the walls of that location. Similarly Selah and Teman were located on spurs that overlooked the entrances into the rolling agricultural countries to the east.
Biblical evidence has Selah controlling the territory from the entrance of the valley of Salt, on the southern shores of the Dead sea. 2Kings 14:7; 2Chron 25:11 This area is well seen from the top of Selah, and from ridges east of Selah
The city was taken by the Babylonians, and Assyrio-babylonian evidence is still seen on the mount today with images of Astarte, Assyrian thrones and cunieform inscriptions on the western side of the mount. The conqeusts of Nebuchadnezzar were predicted Jeremiah 27:3f ; 49:17; Ezek 25:12f; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:6f and were executed on Edom because of their hatred of the jew, betraying them while escaping from the Babylonians in Judea. Obad 14 This spirit later exhibited in the Idumeans, or the “converted” Edomites, and of particular note, Antipater, the progenitor of Herod who was to kill the infants at Bethlehem. This remnant was to die to the last man in the city of Jerusalem at the hand of the Romans, 20,000 entering the city to assist the defence, and once within the city became traitors and savage pillagers.
Numerous parts of scripture speak of Edom in latter-day terms. eg Isa 63:1 and points to a empire that carries the ancient features of Edom: it has a strong city, is superstitious, steeped in idolatry and in particular a hatred for the nation of Israel, whose lands they consider their own by nature of contract to God. So in the day when in Zion there shall be deliverance, a prophecy of the intervention of deity to save Israel at Armageddon (see Zech 14) so saviours shall come to judge Mt Edom Obad 21 a time when Edom shall be amazed and the kingdoms of the world become the Lord and His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever Ex 14:15-18; Rev 15:15
Selah then becomes a figure of the conquest of the great city that opposes deity. The place where it’s king sits confident, but subjected to sudden conquest. This repeated history in the time of Joab, Amaziah and Nebuchadnezzar points to the greatest overcoming of the kingdom of men when the stone taken without hands becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth. Dan 2:35
For the man observing the conquest of Joab, here was an example of overcoming obstacles that appeared impossible. Anyone serving God finds numerous challenges to complete dedicated service. These include self interest, antagonism, sickness and physical inability, lack of resolve and all manner of other challenges. To those who overcome great blessings are offered. But the overcoming is not in the practice of personal merit, whether cleverness, physical strength, or resources to throw at the problem. It is the involvement of deity in challenges too great for personal ability. It then becomes a declaration of the interest and strength of God to achieve goals. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Phil 1:6 This was the encouragement of the priest at the commencement of Israel’s battles: ” And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” Deut 20:2-4