The International Business Times today is reporting that the tomb of a Hebrew prophet is being eyed by ISIS for destruction. The tomb of Nahum Elkoshi is located in a synagogue thousands of years old, and is currently in the path of ISIS’ march through Iraq.
The IB Times says:
A 2,700-year-old tomb of a Hebrew prophet in Al Qosh is in danger of ruin by ISIS militants, who are battling Kurdish forces just 10 miles outside the Iraqi city. The crypt of Nahum Elkoshi, which sits inside an ancient synagogue, lies in the path of the Islamic State group as the extremists advance on the modern Assyrian town, Haaretz reported.
Nahum vividly predicted the fall of the Assyrian empire and its capital Nineveh in the 7th century BC. Now, the prophet’s purported resting place is in danger of the very same fate at the hands of ISIS militants. The tomb dates back thousands of years and is located at the center of one of Iraq’s last synagogues in Al Qosh, which is situated just north of Mosul.
Nahum, who is seventh in the order of the minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible, lived in Al Qosh in the ancient Nineveh Plains of what is now modern Iraq. His tomb and the crumbling synagogue around it are adorned with Hebrew inscriptions. Plans to repair the run-down walls of Nahum’s tomb have been put on hold with ISIS’ approach. Iraqi Christians and Jews alike fear the Islamist militants will wreck the ancient site if they take Al Qosh, according to Haaretz.
Nahum’s tomb was reportedly visited by thousands of worshipers each year until the early 1950s when the Iraqi government began pursuing policies to purge the country of its Jewish population. Before the last Jews fled Al Qosh, they asked an Assyrian Christian family to look after the crypt. That family has kept its promise for three generations with little help from the Iraqi government.
“Nahum is not our prophet, but he is a prophet, so we must respect that. He’s a prophet, it is simple,” said Asir Salaam Shajaa, who takes care of the site like his father and grandfather did before him. Like many other Iraqi Christians, Shajaa wants to flee the besieged country but said his brother would continue caring for the site. “It will stay in the family, God willing,” he told Haaretz on Wednesday.
The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, controls about one-third of Iraq and Syria. The Sunni militants have destroyed a number of ancient Iraqi sites in recent months including Nimrud and Khorsabad as well as the 2,000-year-old city of Hatra. ISIS members were videotaped smashing 3,000-year-old stone sculptures at Mosul Museum earlier this year. The terror group has declared it intention to destroy pre-Islamic artifacts that offend its religion.
“These ruins that are behind me, they are idols and statues that people in the past used to worship instead of Allah,” one ISIS militant said in the video. “The Prophet Muhammad took down idols with his bare hands when he went into Mecca. We were ordered by our prophet to take down idols and destroy them, and the companions of the prophet did this after this time, when they conquered countries.”
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