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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Salcah

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(Heb. Salkah', סִלְכָה, from an Arabic root, signifying migration; Sept. Σελχά, v.r. Σελά, Σεκξαί, Ε᾿λχά, etc.; A.V. "Salchah," in Deuteronomy 3, 10 [Targum Pseudo-Jon. gives it סלווקיא, i.e. Seleucia; though which Seleucia they can have supposed was here intended it is difficult to imagine]), a city named in the early records of Israel as the extreme limit of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:10; Joshua 13:11). This city appears to have been one of the old capitals of Og's kingdom (Joshua 12:5). A statement in 1 Chronicles 5:11 seems to show that Salcah was upon the eastern confines of both Manasseh and Gad, although it was really beyond the bounds of Palestine as occupied by the Hebrews. On another occasion the name seems to denote a district rather than a town (Joshua 12:5). In later Jewish history the name is never mentioned, and the probability is that the city soon fell into the hands of the original inhabitants. By Eusebius and Jerome it is merely mentioned, apparently without their having had any real knowledge of it.

Salcah is, doubtless, identical with the present town of Sulkhad, which stands at the southern extremity of the Jebel Hauran, twenty miles south of Kunawat (the ancient Kenath), which was the southern outpost of the Leja, the Argob of the Bible. Sulkhad is named by both the Christian and Mohammedan historians of the Middle Ages (Will. of Tyre, 16, 8, "Selcath;" Abulfeda [Tab. Syr. p. 106; also in Schultens's Index Geogr.] "Sarchad"). It was visited by Burckhardt (Syria, Nov. 22, 1810), Seetzen, and others, and more recently by Porter, who describes it at some length (Five Years in Damascus, 2, 176-216). Its identification with Salcah seems to be due to Gesenius (Burckhardt, Reisen, p. 507). Immediately below Sulkhad commences the plain of the great Euphrates desert, which appears to stretch, with hardly an undulation, from here to Busra, on the Persian Gulf. The town is of considerable size, from two to three miles in circumference; it occupies a strong and commanding position on a conical hill. On the summit stands the castle, a circular building of great size and strength, surrounded by a deep moat. The external walls are still tolerably perfect, and were evidently founded not later than the Roman age, though the upper portions are Saracenic. The sides of the cone immediately beneath the walls are steep and smooth, and are covered with light cinders and blocks of lava, showing that it was originally a volcano. The city occupies the lower slopes on the south, extending to the plain. A large number of the houses are still perfect, with their stone roofs and stone doors, though they have been long deserted. On the walls of the castle, and among the ruins, there are Greek inscriptions, bearing dates equivalent to A.D. 246 and 370; while an Arabic record on the walls of a large mosque shows that it was built in the year A.D. 1224, and a minaret near it about four centuries later. The latter appears to be the newest building in the place. The country round Salcah is now without inhabitants; but traces of former industry and wealth, and of a dense population, are visible. The roads, the fields, the terraces, the vineyards, and the fig-orchards are there, but man is gone. The view from the summit of the castle of Salcah is one of the most remarkable for desolation in all Palestine. See Porter, Handbook for Syria, p. 488; Schwarz, Palestine, p. 222. (See BASHAN).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Salcah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/salcah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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