By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service
AL QOSH, IRAQ (ANS – June 4, 2015) — The Islamic State terror group’s offensive in Iraq is now threatening to take the northern Iraqi village of Al Qosh, which is home to an ancient Jewish synagogue that contains the tomb of the Prophet Nahum the Elkoshite.
According to JNS.org, the 2,600-year-old site lies just 10 miles from the regional frontline of Islamic State, which has been battling the Western-backed Kurdish Peshmerga forces for control of the area.
Nahum is a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible who prophesied the end of the Assyrian Empire and its capital city of Nineveh in the 7th century BCE. Little is known about the prophet’s personal life, but “the Elkoshite” may have referenced the town he was from, which some associate with modern-day Al Qosh, where his tomb lies.
“The tomb’s site used to be home to a small Jewish community and drew thousands of Jewish pilgrims each year,” said the story. “But after the expulsion of the Jewish community of Al Qosh in the early 1950s, the tomb has been watched over by an Assyrian Christian family while some attempts have been made to restore the crumbling site.”
Asir Salaam Shajaa, an Assyrian Christian born in Al Qosh, told Haaretz, “When the last Jewish people in Al Qosh left, they asked my grandfather to watch over the tomb, to keep it safe. I don’t know much more than that. Nahum is not our prophet, but he is a prophet, so we must respect that. He’s a prophet, it is simple.”
Islamic State has destroyed numerous irreplaceable ancient artifacts belonging to the Assyrian people in northern Iraq, calling the artifacts false idols. The terror group released a video earlier this year showing its fighters smashing artifices at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrod before blowing up the site. The terror group has also sold off numerous artifacts on the black market to fund its operations.
Last month, Islamic State conquered the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, home to some of the most magnificent Roman ruins in the Middle East. Many fear that the terror group will also loot and destroy Palmyra.
Photo captions: 1) The tomb of the Jewish Prophet Nahum. (Credit: Chaldean via Wikimedia Commons.” 2) Dan Wooding reporting for ANS from outside the Kurdistan Parliament in Erbil, Northern Iraq.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of 45 books and founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). Dan hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world, and also “His Channel Live,” a TV show beamed to 192 countries. He has reported from Iraq.
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