Monday, February 10, 2020

The shrine of the Tomb of Ezekiel is open for visitors

THE LATEST: Jewish Shrine of Prophet Ezekiel’s Tomb Open to Visitors in Iraq's Shi'ite Heartland. The shrine is modestly concealed in the compound of a newly-built Shi'ite mosque that replaced the original synagogue, and is attracting mainly Muslim pilgrims (Judit Neurink, Haaretz premium).
But Ezekiel’s tomb is slowly becoming a site of pilgrimage again – this time by Muslims and even the tensions between the United States and Iran that are playing out in Iraq do not affect it. With the American drone attack on an important Iranian general in Baghdad, the retaliatory rockets fired by Iran and pro-Iranian militias at American troops in Iraq, and the thousands of protesters who have been on the streets since October demanding an end to corruption – the ancient shrine remains a quiet and magical place that is open for all visitors.
This is a Haaretz premium article, so read it quickly before it vanishes behind the paywall.

I have been following the fate of the (traditional) tomb of the prophet Ezekiel in Kifl, Iraq, for many years. It last came to PaleoJudaica's attention nearly a year ago here and here. Follow the links from there for earlier posts. There was a rumor (cf. here) that the Ezekiel Plates, perhaps including the stone plaques bearing the Treatise of the Vessels, came originally from the Tomb of Ezekiel over a century ago. But, this was also disputed. A journalist reported he had evidence that the plates were made in Syria at the beginning of the twentieth century. I have never seen verification for either claim.

The current article gives a lot of recent background, and also some biblical and Quranic background. I don't see a lot new in it. The shrine is still in need of renovation and money is still needed for that. But it is still open to visitors. I don't think I have ever heard the following, at least expressed this clearly.:
In 2008, the original synagogue building was demolished and a new mosque with the traditional Shi'ite blue tiled dome was erected. The shrine, its dome and an old leaning tower in which storks have nested for centuries, are all that remain of the original structure.
The shrine is the place where the Hebrew inscriptions still survive. This paragraph may clarify earlier, contradictory reports about whether the site had been rebuilt into a mosque or not.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.