Tomb of the Biblical Prophet Nahum—Safe for Now

Bible and archaeology news


The shrine before restoration. Photo: Courtesy of the ARCH International Team.

The tomb of the Biblical prophet Nahum will survive to see another day.
On the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq—just 30 miles northeast of Mosul—lies the town of al-Qosh. Many believe this to be the hometown of the Biblical prophet Nahum, whose writings predicted the fall of the Assyrian empire. Nahum’s tomb is enclosed within al-Qosh’s historic synagogue. While the prophet lived in the seventh century B.C.E., his legendary tomb dates to 1173 C.E. It became a popular Jewish pilgrimage destination—but is also revered by Christians and Muslims.

By around 1950, al-Qosh’s Jewish community had deserted the town due to hostility from the government. The remaining inhabitants—mostly Christian—did their best to protect the site, but decades of war, conflict, and lack of resources took their toll. The shrine fell into disrepair with part of its roof caving in, some walls crumbling, arches cracking, and columns tilting.

It was then—in 2017—that the Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH) actively stepped in. Teaming up with the GEMA Art Group, a Czech company specializing in historic restorations, ARCH managed to stabilize the shrine and stop its deterioration. The community of al-Qosh welcomed the restoration efforts and hope that soon pilgrims will begin visiting the prophet’s tomb once again.


Conservation efforts at the Biblical prophet Nahum’s tomb. Photo: Courtesy of the ARCH International Team.

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Trove of Assyrian Clay Tablets Unearthed in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Cave of Elijah the Prophet under Threat?

Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem

Minor Prophets in the Bible: Amos by John Ahn

3 Responses

  1. Robert Miles says:

    I believe Nahum’s prophecies have more of an end-time application than for any application towards ancient Assyria. Note that at the end of the first chapter (his introduction) he speaks of Christ’s feet treading down the mountains, which is an apocalyptic allusion used elsewhere as well! (Isa. 52:7)

    “Behold upon the mountains
    the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,
    that publisheth peace!
    O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows:
    for the wicked shall no more pass through thee;
    he is utterly cut off!”

    Furthermore, Capernaum means “City of Nahum”, as that is supposed to be the residence of Nahum during his ministry. Note that Jesus’s most profound works were done in Capernaum (Mark 2 & 3) and the other cities of Galilee, and His effect there was profound–that is, until the religious leaders worked against Him. Eventually Christ cursed Capernaum and it’s sister cities, Chorizin and Bethsaida because of their eventual rejection of Him. (Despite His many miracles.) It’s interesting that Rev. 16 says that our modern day “Babylon” has three major parts, which will fall as separate districts of that “city”. 19 “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell…” Quite interesting indeed, don’t you think?

    Nahum 2 Authorized King James Version (AKJV)
    2 “He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face:
    keep the munition, watch the way,
    make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.
    2 For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob,
    as the excellency of Israel:
    for the emptiers have emptied them out,
    and marred their vine branches.
    3 The shield of his mighty men is made red,
    the valiant men are in scarlet:
    the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation,
    and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.
    4 The chariots shall rage in the streets,
    they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways:
    they shall seem like torches,
    they shall run like the lightnings.
    5 He shall recount his worthies:
    they shall stumble in their walk;
    they shall make haste to the wall thereof,
    and the defence shall be prepared.
    6 The gates of the rivers shall be opened,
    and the palace shall be dissolved.
    7 And Huzzab shall be led away captive,
    she shall be brought up,
    and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves,
    tabering upon their breasts.
    8 But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water:
    yet they shall flee away.
    Stand, stand, shall they cry;
    but none shall look back.
    9 Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold:
    for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture.
    10 She is empty, and void, and waste:
    and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together,
    and much pain is in all loins,
    and the faces of them all gather blackness.
    11 Where is the dwelling of the lions,
    and the feeding place of the young lions,
    where the lion, even the old lion, walked,
    and the lion’s whelp, and none made them afraid?
    12 The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps,
    and strangled for his lionesses,
    and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin.
    13 Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts,
    and I will burn her chariots in the smoke,
    and the sword shall devour thy young lions:
    and I will cut off thy prey from the earth,
    and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.”

  2. Robert Miles says:

    Any photos of it post restoration?

  3. Helen Spalding says:

    Kind of sounds like a Medieval tourist trap rather than the actual grave site of Nahum. Religious pilgrimage (tourism) was big business in the Middle Ages.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend