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             Chaldean Towns of Northern Mesopotamia

 

ELQOSH                 

             


Elqosh is located 30 miles north of Nineveh (current days Mosul) on the foothills of a mountain known by her name "Elqosh mountains" or "Baathera mountains". It's more than 2000 ft above sea level.  The name Elqosh is of Aramaic origins. It's made of two syllables; "El" meaning God, and "Qoshta" meaning "Righteousness" i.e. Elqosh means "The God of Righteousness". Most probably "El-Qoshta" is of Akkadian origin "El-Qustu" i.e. "The God of Righteousness" or "The God of Force". The name "Elqosh" could also be "Ilu Qushu", or "Ilu Qeshtu", or "El Qeshto" an association could be drawn with the winged disk symbol of "Ashur" holding a "Bow", consequently the name could be meaning "God of the Bow".  In Aramaic language the "Rainbow" is still referred to as "Qeshta D' Maran" meaning the "Bow of Our Lord" Alqosh is an old Assyrian town, most probably older than 800 BC. Elqosh gained fame due to either being the birth place of Prophet Nahom (who preached between 726-697 BC and was mentioned in the Old Testimony as "Nahom of Elqosh") or for being his new exile home.

Tourists' Attractions
       Due to the beautiful location of Elqosh on the foot hills of its mountain, surrounded by a valley to the south were varieties of crops are planted, and another valley "Kaly Behendoaya" to the west through which a water stream runs, Elqosh is blessed by many natural attractions:

Caves:
1.  

Cappa Smoqa (The Red Cave): is called as such due to its red looking stones.
2.

Cappa DeMaya (Cave of Water): located at the outskirts of Alqosh Mountain.
3.

Cappa DeNetopa (Dripping Cave): located north of the Red Cave.
4.

Showetha DeKanaoey (The Thieves Bed): Was called as such due to its being the hiding place of thieves and highway gangs. During the Assyrian era, this cave housed a temple for the Assyrian God "El-Qustu" after whom Elqosh took her name.

Other Attractions:
1. Kaly DeQasha Hanna (Fr. Hanna valley): located east of Alqosh.
2. Kaly DeNahra: located west of Alqosh.
3. Kaly DeSheo Kheta (Skiing Valley)
4. Kaly DeBarsemli
5. Kaly DeNahra DeAhoey (Valley of the Clouds' River)
6. Resh Resha (Top of Head): which is the top of Elqosh mountain.
7. Rometad Jawenqa (Hill of the Youth): located west of Elqosh.
8. Aqla DeKabara (Foot of the Powerful): which is an engraving of a huge foot on a stone along the road leading to Tel Hash village.

Christianity and Alqosh
       Since its establishment, Elqosh was a place for worshiping whether for Assyrian god El-Qustu or Judaism when Jewish prisoners were brought by the Assyrian army during the eight and ninth century BC. However, with the spread of Christianity, Elqosh was among the first Mesopotamian towns accepting the new faith. Actually, according to the memoirs of Mar Mekha of Nohadra (Dohouk) that when he visited the town in 441 AD he was welcomed by priests of a church built on the ruins of El-Qustu's temple.  Elqosh became an important town for Eastern Christianity after the coming of the monk Hirmizd who built a monastery known after him "Rabban Hirmizd Monastery" in 640 AD  at the outskirts of Elqosh Mountain. This monastery was used as the Seat for many Patriarchs of the Church of the East. It also became the birth place of Chaldeanism when the head of the monks of the monastery "Yohana Sulaqa" decided to join the Catholic Church in 1551 and established the Chaldean Church. Before that all of the inhabitants of Elqosh like their brothers in other Chaldean towns followed the Nestorian faith of the Church of the East. However, Catholicism did not enter Elqosh till 1762 when the deacon Hadbesha accepted Catholicism at the hands of Patriarch Joseph IV in Amed (Diyar Baker) and started preaching it upon his return to Elqosh. In 1780, most of the inhabitants of Elqosh accepted Catholicism.

 

Famous Elqoshis
1. Patriarch Yohanan Sulaqa:  His family is originally from Akra, born in Alqosh in 1513.
Established the Chaldean Church and was its first Patriarch. Died as a martyr in Amadeya on 12 January, 1555.
2. Patriarch Yohanan Hirmizd:  Born in 1760 from the Aboona family (which gave birth to many patriarchs for the Church of the East) and accepted Catholicism in 1826 and was ordained a Chaldean Patriarch in 1829. Died in 1837 in Baghdad and was buried in Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.

3. Patriarch Joseph VI Odo:  Born in Elqosh in 1793. Was ordained as a Chaldean Patriarch on 11 September, 1848. Died on 14 March, 1878.
4. Patriarch Joseph Emmanuel II Toma:  Born in Elqosh in 1852. Was ordained as a
Chaldean Patriarch on 9 July, 1900. Died on 21 July, 1947.
5. Patriarch Paulos II Shiekho:  Born in Elqosh on 1 November, 1906. Completed his Ph.D. in Eastern Studies from the Oriental Institute in Rome in 1933. Was ordained a Chaldean Patriarch on 16 January, 1958. Died in Baghdad on 13 April, 1989.

Elqosh and Muslim Attacks:
     
Housing Rabban Hirmizd Monastery which was used as the Seat for several patriarchs of the Chaldean Church attracted the attention of several Muslim governors of its surrounding areas.  In 1743 Elqosh became a victim to the destructive acts of the Persian sovereign Nader Shah.  According to a letter written by the Priest Habash Bin Jomaa and dating 1746 which describes the  destructive acts of Nader Shah "..first they attacked Karamles, and stole its people's valuables and kidnapped many of its children and women. They did the same to the inhabitants of Bartella, whom they killed many of her men, stole the valuables, and kidnapped its children and women. They did the same to the people of Tel Keppe and Elqosh, however, many of those two neighboring villages took refuge at the Monastery of Rabban Hirmizd. There they were surrounded by the soldiers of Nader Shah whom they attacked them like a pack of hungry wolves attacking helpless sheep. They committed such horrendous crimes that I just don't have the stomach to describe!"  In 1828, Elqosh was attacked by the army of Mosa Pasha, the governor of Amadeya, who was instigated by some of his Muslim subjects to attack the Rabban Hirmizd Monastery which he did.  His army arrested and imprisoned several monks and priests and caused tremendous damage to the monastery.  In 1832, Elqosh was attacked again by the Kurdish Governor of Rawandows, nicknamed "Merkor" whose hatred of Christians and Chaldeans is well known. He killed over 400 of its inhabitants.  Merkor attacked Elqosh again on 15 March 1833 and killed another 172 of its men "..not counting children, women, and strangers.." (according to church records).  In 1840, Elqosh was once again attacked by the brother of Merkor, Rasoul Beg, who surrounded it for several months after which he put on fire the Rabban Hirmizd Monastery and stole over 500 of its valuable books.

 

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