Dariel Pass

The Gateway of the Hebrew tribes

Through the Caucasus Mountain range into Europe.

Much evidence has been presented documenting that Hebrew tribes passed through the Caucasus Mountain region into Europe in the early pre-Christian centuries. This account of a visit to the region is reprinted from the article, “The Pass Of Israel,” by Colonel R.G. Pearse, The National Message, October 23, 1937, p. 676. Here is a transcript of this interesting article:

Colonel Pearse spent a number of years in the district described in this article. At that time he had no knowledge of our Israel identity or of the migrations of our forefathers, and the significance of the names and legends were not apparent to him. Recently he found the long-forgotten photographs which we reproduce, and as a result has written the following article:

It has been my good fortune, upon several occasions, to travel through the Caucasian Mountains, taking the route of the Georgian Road. This is one of the two highways through the mountains from south to north – the other being but a mule-track – and, although now a wonderfully engineered road, is known in native legendary and song as “The Pass of Israel.” It was constructed as a modern highway in about 1856, but still shews traces of its former characteristics as a wagon track.

When Israel of the Ten Tribes were faced with their journey from Guta, in Media, to Arsareth, they had to travel through the mighty Caucasian range by this, the only, way for a large concourse of people. It must be realized that these mountains extend for hundreds of miles, and average, throughout their whole length, over 10,000 feet in height.

When undertaking this part of their migrations, after having traversed the smaller mountain ranges lying between Media and the Caucasus, they approached this great obstacle to their march near where Tiflis, the capital of Georgia now stands.

From there they passed through the foothills which contain nowadays many monasteries and ruins dating back even to A.D. 100; for the people of Georgia were one of the first Christian communities.

Still traversing such foothills, the Israel migration approached and finally entered, as the track narrowed, the real Pass through the mountains. For many miles they traveled through a great ravine marching between towering heights and along the banks of a swift river, the waters of which had come from the great mountain range and which finally emptied into the southern portion of the Caspian Sea. It is this river which has formed the mighty gorge extending to the heart of the Caucasus.

They continued along this ravine, rising some thousands of feet on the way, until they came towards the centre of the Pass. Here, at a place now designated Mlete, they were faced with their most difficult task. For at this point the Pass rises abruptly by some thousands of feet until a final height of 11,000 feet is reached.

On surmounting this – and who can say now how long it took for the multitude of people to transport themselves, their wagons and their other belongings? – they reached the highest plateau, which is some miles in extent and where, although the weather is at times very severe, the travelers were probably afforded a respite from the hardships of continual climbing. Actually, during the winter this plateau lies under many feet of snow and at times is impassable, but during the remainder of the year it can be traversed with reasonable facility. When the snow melts in such a district there is revealed a wonderful sight of mountain peaks, snow-clad upon their summits but of many vivid colours below due to the rich mineral deposits in the rocks.

Having passed successfully over this, the real ridge of the Pass, Israel were faced with the descent into Europe. Although not so precipitous as the ascent from Mlete, it took them through some very stark and rocky ravines, from end to end of which ran another great river emptying itself in the northern portion of the Caspian Sea.

On the way down they would leave behind them the mountain named “Zion” – a mountain which as always been known as such, and which has given its name to a village now situated in the Pass. It is interesting to speculate about this mountain and its name, for perhaps the latter goes back to the time of the passing of our forefathers. Personally, I came across no trace of its actual history, and, therefore, can only speculate.

At a later stage in their journey Israel obtained their first sight of the great mountain peak of Kazbek which, rising to over 16,000 feet, seems to be watching over the European side of the Pass. Afterwards they entered a series of precipitous and intensely rugged and rocky gorges, on their way passing through the “Dariel Gorge,” or the Gorge of Darius. It was in this gorge that, as contemporary history and the current legendary of the natives inform us, Darius the Persian brought, some time after Israel’s migrations, an army to avenge the death of Cyrus and the rout of his forces by Israel in Arsareth. Coming to such a gorge as this, the army of Darius encountered the forces of Israel under the leadership of Queen Tamara (the Queen Thomyris of early history), and in turn his army was defeated and routed. The ruins of the castle of Queen Tamara still remain as a watch tower in the centre of the gorge.

Still traveling through these ravines went Israel until, passing over the foothills, they finally emerged upon the European plains at the Gate of the Caucasus, the place known as Vladikavkas before the present Russian regime.

Here we find the tale of the migration taken up by Herodotus, and we realize that Israel had traversed the greatest obstacle in the course of their migration in this march of a year and a half, as the Book of Esdras informs us:

“Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the King of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.

“But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt. That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river. For the Most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over.

“For through that country there was a great way to go, namely of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth.” (2 Esdras 13:40-45)