GIORGI ALIBEGASHVILI # 1
PAGAN IDOL'S MOUNTAINS AFTER `SAINT NINO’S LIFE`
One of the most important opus of Georgian literature `Saint Nino’s life` reflects historical events of IV century, namely, period of official announcement of Christianity in Georgia, in ancient capital Mtskheta.
Local Hebrews played important role to bring Christian relics and strengthening the faith. From this point of view there is the interesting episode of the composition, where the priest Abiathar's daughter Sidonia before Saint Nino came in Georgia had described the pagan idols and service towards them. She says: After fourteen years Baptism of Constantine the Great – duke of Byzantium there was appeared Saint Nino - preacher of true religioun; in time Georgians served the idols made by them and not to Jesus Christ, but Jewish ancestors worshiped two mountains – Ebal and Gerizim, where there were not any of God, no Moses, but - inanimate stone idols; the same had been in Georgia, there were two idols erected on two mountains – Armaz and Zaden. There parents sacrificed their children’s lives to the idols (1).
There is known that Ebal and Gerizim were Saint Mountains. By God’s order Moses assigned those for annual reading of holly words before general Israeli council (DT 11.2). The sacred ark surrounded by Leviticus and priests during the service was between those two mountains. By Moses order Hebrews put whole stones on the Ebal, plaster them with lime and `shall write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly` (DT 27.8). Jacob’s seven sons: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Essachar, Joseph, Benjamin must to climbed on the Gerizim and uttered the words of sanctify, but on Ebal other six had to be tsand – Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebukun, Dan, Naphtali and uttered the words of damnation (DT 27. 12-13). Ebal and Gerizim are mentioned by Byzantine theologian Epiphanius de Gemmis’ in a `Gemstone` (the full translation of it is kept into Georgian). By Epiphanius Gerizim is translated s `mountain of save` but Ebal `damned and defiled`(2). In the `Gemstone` those two mountains are contemplated as a two emeralds put in high priest’s chasuble epaulets, where right side stone denotes Gerizim and left side – Ebal. The emerald symbolic is as follows: if the gemstone is misty, it predicts sinfulness and evil of study, if it clear – good deeds and reveals best and genuine study. Hence, concluded Saint Epiphanius de Gemmis – emerald truly conveys Jesus born; baptize, conversion (Chrisitianity) renewal, communion.
Saint Epiphanius de Gemmis in the conclusion part of the `Gemstone` considers Samarians’ origin, which is less important this way, but one can be mentioned here: Samarians firmly protected the Book of the Law of Moses and refused all late Judaic books and rules, because they proved that their Book of the Law of Moses is more correct than Hebrew’s one. By the way, one of the books of Book of the Law of Moses instead of Ebal is Gerizim: `You shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount E-bal and thou shalt plaister them with praister` (DT 27.4) (3). One can mention here that there was built the Samarians temple after the Babylonian captivity (compare St. John 4.20 - `Our fathers worshipped in this mountain`). Discussion of Saint Epiphanius in this extract, where he, from the one hand, talks about Hebrews Gerizim and Ebal and, on the other hand, Samarian Gerizim, it’s mentrioned that Hebrew’s Gerizim is different from Samarians one and he prove that Samarians margin of error and exact knowledge of `books of Creation` (`they don’t read out other books`). (5)
There is paid attention to the `Gemstone` on the Saint Epiphanius following words: Samarians say that our ancestors worshiped this mountain (Gerizim). The same says woman of Samaria with the Savior (St. John 4.20); and as we mentioned above, nearly the same Sidonia is repeated, however she names Ebal with Gerizim too.
After Sidonia’s words there mentioned not only Jude’s Saint mountains but – high place worshipped by Samarians too, where the idols were kept; but there is evidence, that Abiatar’s daughter mentions Gerizim and Ebal not in the context of belst and damn words but as a mountains of worship, where was not as God, as Moses, but inanimate idols. The following phrase follows of Sidonia’s talking: I announce you from the read books and by my father’s talking, that is connected with bringing of Christ tunic in Mtskheta by Mtskhetian Hebrews.
On the assumption of above mentioned facts, there are set off the subjects as follows:
Gerizim and Ebal and inanimate idols erected on them, which were worshipped by Sidonia’s ancestors are some pre-faces of Armaz-Zaden mountains and two idols erected onto them.
Gerizim-Ebal and Armaz-Zaden context mentions not about Hebrews religion but – Samarians idolatry.
There is evidence from Sidonia’s words that part of exiled Hebrews in Mtskheta were Samarians and author (or authors) of `Saint Nino’s life` focus on them to reveal their idolatry from the Bible’s side.
Together with all these facts, Gerizim and Ebal are allocated on the territory of Joseph branch, and Samarians considered themselves as descendants of Joseph (Saint Epiphanius de Gemmis), but this Jacob’s son has concrete connections with `Saint Nino’s life` and given there character-ideas.
Shatberdi corpora of Xth century, Tb., 1979, p. 337-338.
ibid, p. 171.
ibid, p. 140.
Newstram, A, the Bible dictionary, Toronto, 1982, p. 85-86.
Shatberdi corpora, p. 173-174; Bible encyclopedia, work and edition of Nicephorus the archimandrite, M., 1991, p. 154.