Georgian Christians honor King David

Sunday, February 26, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

The Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, a known admirer of King David, received permission from Israel's chief rabbis last Thursday to cover the biblical king's tomb with a giant ceremonial cloth embroidered with Georgian religious symbols.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said he was concerned the Georgians would want to cover King David's tomb in crosses, a symbol that can be offensive to Jews, but "was surprised to instead find imagery from the Psalms."

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II was in Israel for an official state visit when he made the request of Israel's two chief rabbis, Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.

Touched by the gesture, Rabbi Metzger told Illia II, "We have met with many cardinals and patriarchs who have brought as gifts books and medals, but none have ever thought to so lovingly honor King David."

Illia II was moved to tears during the actual ceremony to cover King David's tomb with the special cloth.

The Bagrationi Dynasty, which ruled Georgia from the 9th century until the Soviet annexation of the country in 1921, traces its lineage back to King David. As such, the Psalms, most of which were written by King David, are the most beloved scriptures of Illia II and most Georgian Christians.

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