🔼The name Calah: Summary
- Like New
- Stern Gaze
- From (1) the prefix כ (ke), as, and (2) the adjective לח (lah), moist, fresh, new.
- From the verb כלח (kalah), to look sternly.
🔼The name Calah in the Bible
The city named Calah is mentioned only twice in the Bible, and in one scene. According to Genesis 10:10, Nimrod built an empire directly after the flood of Noah, starting with Babel in Shinar and ending with Nineveh and Calah in Assyria and Resen, the Great City, between Calah and Nineveh. The other cities became famous until today but from Calah was never heard again.
🔼Etymology of the name Calah
The name Calah is probably a transliteration of an Assyrian name. But spelled the way it is, it looks associated to the assumed root כלח (klh):
The unused verb כלח (kalah) probably means to look hard or stern (it does so in other languages). Noun כלח (kelah) denotes vigor or hardness.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes after the Hebrew root כלה (kala) meaning to bring a process to completion. A derived noun, spelled the same, means full end. But note that the name of the city ends with a heth, while the verb ends with a he, and that makes a lot of difference.
Another possibility is a combination of the common Hebrew particle כ (ke), as, like, as if:
כ כי כה
The prefix כ (ke) means "as if" or "like." The particle כי (ki) means "in that," both in the sense of "because" and "when." The adverb כה (koh) means "thus."
And the adjective לח (lah), meaning moist, fresh, new:
The unused verb לחח (lahah) probably meant to be vigorous and well-watered (as opposed to old and dry). Adjective לח (lah) means moist, fresh or new. Noun לח (leah) means freshness or youthful vigor.
Combined would yield the meaning Like New.
To a Hebrew audience the name Calah would mean Vigor, and may remind some people here and there of Like New.
Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary translates this name. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Old Age, Completion, but that's probably not correct.