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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

A most ancient Assyrian city founded by Asshur ( Genesis 10:11), or rather by Nimrod; for the right translation is, "out of that city (namely, Babel in Shinar) he (Nimrod) went forth to Asshur (Assyria E. of the Tigris) and builded Nineveh and Rehoboth-ir (i.e. city markets), and Calah and Rosen, ... the same is a great city." The four formed one "great" composite city, to which Nineveh, the name of one of the four in the restricted sense, was given; answering now to the ruins E. of the Tigris, Nebi Yunus, Koyunjik, Khorsabad, Nimrud. If Calah answer to Nimrud it was between 900 and 700 B.C. capital of the empire. The war-like Sardanapalus I and his successors resided here, down to Sargon, who built a new city and called it from his own name (now Khorsabad). Esarhaddon built there a grand palace. The district Calachene afterwards took its name from it.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

CALAH . The Kalach of the inscriptions, one of the great fortresses which after the fall of Nineveh (cf.   Jonah 4:11 and the Greek writers) were supposed to make up that city. Both Nineveh and Calah were, however, always separate in structure and in administration. Calah lay on the site of the great modem mounds of Nimrûd , as was first proved by the explorer Layard. In   Genesis 10:11 f. it is said to have been founded by Nimrod, and, along with Nineveh and other cities, to have formed part of ‘the great city.’ It was the capital, or at least the chief royal residence, under several of the greatest Assyrian kings, whose palaces have been excavated by modern explorers. Here also was found the famous black obelisk of Shalmaneser II.

J. F. McCurdy.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

One of the early cities built by Asshur, or, probably by Nimrod, if we read 'out of the land he (Nimrod) went forth to Assyria,' as in the margin.  Genesis 10:11,12 . Supposed to be connected with some of the ruins on the Tigris, from which so many monuments and inscriptions have been discovered; but Calah cannot be distinguished from the other early cities mentioned in connection with Nimrod.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Ca'lah. (Completion, Old Age). One of the most ancient cities of Assyria .  Genesis 10:11. The site of Calah is probably market by the Nimrud ruins. If this be regarded as ascertained, Calah must be considered to have been, at one time, (about B.C. 930-720), the capital of the empire.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

A city of Assyria, built by Ashur or by Nimrod,  Genesis 10:11,12 . It was at some distance from Nineveh, and Resen lay between them. It is thought to have been near the river Lycus, the great Zab, which empties into the Tigris.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

a city of Assyria, built by Ashur,  Genesis 10:12 . From it the adjacent country, on the north-east of the Tigris, and south of the Gordian mountains of Armenia, was called Callachene, or Callacine.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 10:11 Genesis 10:11

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Genesis 10:8-12

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

kā´la ( כּלח , kālaḥ  ; Χάλαχ , Chálach , also Chálak or Kálach  ; in Assyrian Kalh̬u , Kalh̬a , Kalh̬i , Kalah̬ ): The name of one of the great cities of Nimrod ( Genesis 10:11 ), or rather, Asshur (text), which formed, with Nineveh, Resen between Calah and Nineveh, and Rehoboth-Ir (probably lying more to the North), Asshur's great fourfold capital. The meaning of the name is unknown, but if a Sumerian etymology be accepted, some such signification as "Holy Gate" ( Ka - lah̬ ) or the like - a parallel to Ka - dingira = Bâb - ı̂li , "Gate of God" (see Babel; Babylon ) - might be regarded as possible.

1. Date of the City's Foundation

As Nineveh is mentioned by H̬ammurabi , who reigned about 2000 bc, it is clear that that city was already, in his time, an important place; and the passage in  Genesis 10:11 implies, though it does not actually prove, that Calah was of about the same period.

2. Early References to the City

The Assyrian king Aššur - naṣir - âpli (circa 885 bc) states that Calah was made (probably = founded) by Shalmaneser (I) circa 1300 bc, but this is possibly simply an indication that he rebuilt it. Later on, the site seems to have become neglected, for Aššur - naṣir - âpli states that, the city having fallen into ruin, he rebuilt it, and it thereafter became practically the capital of the country, for he not only reërected or restored its shrines and temples - the temple of Ninip, with the god's image; the temple of "the Lady of the Land," and the temples of Sin, Gula, and Enlil - but he also received tribute there. Among his other works may be mentioned the water-channel Pati - ḥengala , and the plantations, whose fruits, apparently, he offered to the god Assur (Asshur), and the temples of the city. It also became a favorite place of residence for the later kings of Assyria,' who built palaces, and restored the city's temples from time to time.

3. Its Position

Calah occupied the roughly triangular tract formed by the junction of the Greater Zab with the Tigris, which latter stream in ancient times flowed rather closer to the western wall than it does now, and would seem to have separated the small town represented by Selamiyeh from the extensive ruins of Calah, which now bear the name of Nimroud . The main ruins are situated on a large, rectangular platform on the bank of the old bed of the Tigris.

4. The Temple-Tower

The most prominent edifice was the great Temple-tower at the Northwest corner - a step-pyramid ( ziq - qurat ) like the Bah towers, constructed of brick faced with stone, and rising, in stages, to a height of circa 126 ft., probably with a sanctuary at the top (see Babel , Tower Of ). A long vault occupies the basement-stage of this structure, and caused Sir A. H. Layard, its discoverer, to regard it as the probable traditional tomb of Ninus, under whose shadow the tragedy of Pyramis and Thisbe took place. Ovid ( Metam . iv.98) describes the tomb of Ninus as having been situated "at the entrance of Nineveh," and, if this be correct, Calah must have been regarded as the southern portion of that great city, which, on a preaching journey, may well have taken three days ( Jonah 3:3 ) to traverse, provided Khorsabad was in reality its northern extremity.

5. The Temples and Palaces

The platform upon which the temple-tower of Calah was situated measures circa 700 x 400 yds., and the portion not occupied by that erection afforded space for temples and palaces. In the center of the East side of this platform lie the remains of the palace of Aššur - naṣir - âpli , the chambers and halls of which were paneled with sculptured and inscribed slabs, the principal doorways being flanked with finely carved winged and human-headed lions and bulls. In the Southeast corner are the remains of the palace of Esarhaddon, built, at least in part, with material taken from the palace of Tiglath-pileser IV, which was situated in the South portion of the platform. The remains of this last are, as a result of this spoliation, exceedingly meager. The Southwest corner of the platform contains the remains of the last palace built on the site - a very inferior erection constructed for Aššur - êtil - ı̂lāni (circa 626 bc).

6. The Temple of Ninip

One of the temples on this platform was that dedicated to Ninip, situated at the Southwest corner of the temple-tower. The left-hand entrance was flanked by man-headed lions, while the sides of the right-hand entrance were decorated with slabs showing the expulsion of the evil spirit from the temple - a spirited sculpture now in the Nimroud Gallery of the British Museum. On the right-hand side of the entrance was an arch-headed slab with a representation of King Aššur - naṣir - âpli in low relief, standing in the usual conventional attitude. Before it stood a stone tripod altar, implying that Divine honors were paid to this king. (Both these are now in the British Museum.) The remains of another temple were found to the East of this, and there are traces of further buildings at other points of the platform.

7. The Sculptures of Aššur - naṣir - âpli

The slabs from Aššur - naṣir - âpli ' s palace show this king's warlike expeditions, but as descriptive lettering is wanting, the campaigns cannot be identified. Notwithstanding this disadvantage, however, they are of considerable importance, showing, as they do, incidents of his various campaigns - the crossing of rivers, the march of his armies, the besieging of cities, the reception of tribute, the life of the camp and hunting the lion and the wild bull. The reliefs from the temples, which are much larger and finer, show the king engaged in various religious ceremonies and ritual acts, and are among the most striking examples of Assyrian of sculpture. When looking at these works of art, the student's thoughts go back with thankfulness to those Assyrians who, through the generations, cared for and preserved these monuments, though the vandalism of Esarhaddon in dressing off the slabs of Tiglath-pileser Iv to carve his own bas-reliefs thereon will ever be regretted.

8. The City Walls

The site is described as being 14 miles South of Kouyunjik (Nineveh) and consists of an enclosure formed of narrow mounds still having the appearance of walls. Traces of no less than 108 towers, the city's ancient defenses, are said to be visible even now on the North and East, where the walls were further protected by moats. The area which the walls enclose - about 2, 331 x 2,095 yards - would contain about 1,000 acres.

Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains , and Nineveh and Babylon , still remain the standard works upon the subject, and his Monuments of Nineveh gives the most complete collection of the sculptures found. See also George Smith, Assyrian Discoveries , and Rassam, Asshur and the Land of Nimrod .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

(Heb. Ke'lach, כֶּלִח , Vigrorous old age, as in  Job 5:26; in pause Ka'Lach, כּ לִח ; Sept. Χαλάχ , Vulg. Chale), one of the most ancient cities of Assyria, whose foundation is ascribed either to Asshur or Nimrod ( Genesis 10:11). The place has been thought identical with the Challach ( חֲלִח , Sept. Ἀλαέ ) named elsewhere, (See Halah), ( 2 Kings 17:6;  2 Kings 18:11;  1 Chronicles 5:26); but, on monumental evidence,the Rawlinsons (Herod. 1:368) regard the site of Calah as marked by the Nimruid ruins, which have furnished so large a proportion of the Assyrian antiquities. The Talmud (Yoma, x) locates it on the Euphrates, near Borsippa ( בּוֹרְסַי ). If at Nimrud, Calah must be considered to have been at one time (about B.C. 930-720) the capital of the empire. It was the residence of the warlike Sardanapalus and his successors down to the time of Sargon, who built a new capital, which he called by his own name, on the site occupied by the modern Khorsabad. This place still continued under the later kings to be a town of importance, and was especiallyfavored by Esarhaddon, who built there one of the grandest of the Assyrian palaces. In later times Calah gave name to one of the chief districts of the country, which appears as Calacioe ( Καλακινή , Ptolem. 6:1, 2), or Calachek ( Καλαχηνή , Strabo, xvi, p. 530, 736), in the geographers. Layard (Nineveh And Its Remaiss, 2: 55) suggests that it may possibly be extant in the very extensive ruins called Kaleh Shergat, on the west side of the Tigris, above its junction with the Lesser Zab. But (See Resen). Less probable is the identification with Chanlan, the former summer residenceof the caliphs in Arabia or Babylonian Irak, according to Abulfeda, five days' journey north of Bagdad (in Anville, 63 ° long., 34 ° lat.), which, according to Assemani (Bibl. Or. III, 2:418 sq., 753), is also called Chalcha (comp. Michaelis, Suppl. p. 767; Rosenm Ü ller, Alterth. I, 2:98). Ephraem Syrus (in loc. Gen.) understands the old Mesopotamian Chetro on the Tigris (Rosenm Ü ller, ib. p. 120; but see Michaelis, Spicileg. 1:245 sq.). As it would seem to have been at some distance from Nineveh, the city of Resen lying between them, most earlier writers concur in placing it on the Great Zab (the ancient Lycus), not far from its junction with the Tigris, and Resen is placed higher up on the same river, so as to be between it and Nineveh (Bochart, Phaleg, 4:22). (See Assyria).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Ca´lah, or rather Calach, a city of Assyria, built by Ashur or Nimrod. It was at some distance from Nineveh, the city of Resen lying between them. Most writers concur in placing it on the Great Zab (the ancient Lycus) not far from its junction with the Tigris.