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§ 1. BIRTHPLACE OF THE PROPHET. The name Nahum (in some MSS. Nāhum) probably meant consoling or consoler, comforter (cf. iii. 7). The name does not occur again in the Old Testament, though it is found in Luke iii. 25, and in the Mishna, as well as in Phenician inscriptions.
The term “the Elkoshite" implies that the prophet belonged to a place named Elkosh, just as the appellation “the Morashtite" describes Micah as a native of Moresheth-Gath (Mic. i. 1); cf. 1 Kings xi. 29, xvii. 1; Jer. xxix. 24, 27. Elkosh has been identified (1) with the modern Elkush, a town lying two days' journey north of Mosul (Nineveh); (2) with a village in Galilee, the ruins of which were seen by Jerome; and (3) with a place in the south-west of Judea, not far from Lachish. (1) In the first case Nahum would have been a descendant of some of the families of northern Israel carried captive by the Assyrians. In 2 Kings xvii. 6 (xviii. 11) these captives are said to have been placed "in Halah, and on the Habor the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” The Sept. reads “on Halah and Habor, rivers of Gozan, and in the mountains of the Medes.” The Habor is the well-known river rising near Nisibis and falling into the Euphrates at Circesium (not Carchemish); while Gozan is the province around it, to which belonged such cities as Haran and Reseph? The situation of Halaḥ is uncertain? Winckler
1 Delitzsch, Paradies, p. 183 seq.
has suggested that for Halaḥ we should read Balih, a river also in Mesopotamia, further north than the Habor? There is another Habor, which falls into the Tigris, considerably north of Elkush; this, however, is a small stream, and appears excluded by the designation “river of Gozan.” It is of less consequence to ascertain accurately the settlements of the captive Israelites, as the chief point of interest is whether Nahum was familiar with Nineveh and possibly an eyewitness of the operations against her, and this must be determined from his prophecy. The modern Elkush is a considerable town. The name looks Arabic, and if it were so would not be older than the seventh century A.D. ; it might however be an Arabized ancient name. The place appears to be of considerable antiquity, though naturally all references to it are later than the Arabic era. The connexion of Nahum with it may very well be the result of a combination, due to the similarity of the name to the prophet's native place and to the fact that he prophesied against Nineveh. Such traditions are apt to arise in Christian and Mohammedan circles. Of a similar kind is the name Nebi Yunus (the prophet Jonas) borne by a part of the ruins of Nineveh, and the Monastery of Job in the Hauran. The tradition of the prophet's grave at Elkush is said by Assemani to go back to the 16th century. Layard describes the place as follows:
“Alkosh is a very considerable Christian village. The inhabitants, who were formerly pure Chaldaeans, have been converted to Roman Catholicism. It contains, according to a very general tradition, the tomb of Nahum, the prophet—the Alkoshite as he is called in the introduction to his prophecies. It is a place held in great reverence by Mohammedans and Christians, but especially by Jews, who keep the building in repair, and flock here in great numbers at certain seasons of the year. The tomb is a simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end of a large chamber. On the walls of the room are slips of paper, upon which are written, in distorted Hebrew characters, religious exhortations, and the dates and particulars
1 Alttest. Untersuch. pp. 108-110.