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Betanure (Barwari area)

Historic Jewish village.

Another two days' journey from Deik, I arrived at Tanura, a town, situated on a high hill and surrounded by mountains; it has a numerous Kurdish population, and about 30 Jewish families. Near it are two caves, the one communicating with the other; the first is empty, and serves as an ante-room to the second. Opposite the entrance falls from the wall a most costly curtain made of rich stuffs and embroidered with gold. In the middle of the ceiling, which is ornamented with oil-paintings, is suspended an antique chandelier, in which lights are kept continually burning, which, added to the other lamps and lights in this mysterious place, shed around a solemn light, which irresistibly affects the visitors. This grotto, about which wonderful legends are told, is said, according to the traditions of the Israelites and Kurds, to have been inhabited by the Prophet Elijah. It belongs, as well as the fields surrounding it, to the Jewish community, who employ the profits arising from the produce of the fields, in keeping the grotto in proper order. It is for this purpose placed in the charge of a Mohamedan family, who as a reward for their care, are freed from paying taxes, and enjoy the highest consideration; they have from time immemorial, taken care of this sanctuary, which is likewise venerated by the Mohamedans. The alms and gifts of pilgrims, who at different times of the year come to this place, are also appropriated to preserve the interior of the grotto; the especial guard and care of which is under the superintendence of a Jew. Benjamin II (1859), p 70-71