Ararat

Ar'arat

(Heb. Ararat', אֲרָרָט, accord. to Bohlen and Benfey from Sanscrit aryavarta, "sacred land;" Sept. Α᾿ραράτ; v. r. in 2Ki 19:37, Α᾿ραράθ; in Isa 37:38, Α᾿ρμενία; v. r. in Jer 51:27, Α᾿ραρέθ, Α᾿ρασέθ, etc.), occurs nowhere in Scripture as the name of a mountain, but only as the name of a country, upon the "mountains" of which the ark rested during the subsidence of the flood (Ge 8:4). In 2Ki 19:37; Isa 37:38 (in both which it is rendered "Armenia"), it is spoken of as the country whither the sons of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, fled, after they had murdered their father. The apocryphal book of Tobit (1:21) says it was εἰς τὰ ὄρη Α᾿ραράθ, "to the mountains of Ararath." This points to a territory which did not form part of the immediate dominion of Assyria, and yet might not be far off from it. The description is quite applicable to Armenia, and the tradition of that country bears that Sennacherib's sons were kindly received by King Paroyr, who allotted them portions of land bordering on Assyria, and that in course of time their posterity also established an independent kingdom, called Vaspurakan (Advall's Transl. of Chamich's Hist. of Armenia, 1, 33, 34). The only other Scripture text where the word occurs (Jer 51:27) mentions Ararat, along with Minni and Ashkenaz, as kingdoms summoned to arm themselves against Babylon. In the parallel place in Isa 13:2-4, the invaders of Babtylonia are described as "issuing from the mountains;" and if by Minni we understand the Minyas in Armenia, mentioned by Nicholas of Damascus (Josephus, Ant. 1:3, 6), and by Ashkenaz some country on the Euxine Sea, which may have had its original name, Axenos, from Ashkenaz, a son of Gomer, the progenitor of the Cimmerians (Ge 10:2-3), then we arrive at the same conclusion, viz. that Ararat was a mountainous region north of Assyria, and in all probability in Armenia. In Eze 38:6, we find Togarmah, another part of Armenia, connected with Gomer, and in Eze 27:14, with Meshech and Tubal, all tribes of the north. With this agree the traditions of the Jewish and Christian churches (Josephus, Ant. 1:3, 5; Euseb. Praep, Evang. 9:12, 19; Jerome on Isaiah 1. c.), and likewise the accounts of the native Armenian writers, who inform us that Ararad was the name of one of the ancient provinces of their country, supposed to correspond to the modern pachalics of Kars and Bayazid, and part of Kurdistan. According to the tradition preserved in Moses of Chorene (in his Histor. Armen. p. 361, ed. Whiston, Lond. 1736), the name of Ararat was derived from Arai, the eighth of the native princes, who was killed in a battle with the Babylonians about B.C. 1750; in memory of which the whole province was called Aray-iarat, i.e. the ruin of Arai. (See Michaelis, Suppl. 1:130 sq.; Tuch, Gen. p. 170 sq.) Rev. E. Smith, who made an exploring tour in Persia and Armenia in 1830 and 1831, remarks in the Biblical Repository, 1832, p. 202, "The name of Ararat occurs but twice in the Old Testament (Ge 8:1, and Jer 51:27), and both times as the name of a country, which in the last passage is said to have a king. It is well known that this was the name of one of the fifteen provinces of Armenia. It was situated nearly in the center of the kingdom; was very extensive, reaching from a point above seven or eight miles east of the modern Erzroom, to within thirty or forty miles of Nakhchewan; yielded to none in fertility, being watered from one extremity to the other by the Araxes, which divided it into two nearly equal parts; and contained some eight or ten cities, which were successively the residences of the kings, princes, or governors of Armenia from the commencement of its political existence, about 2000 years B.C. according to Armenian tradition, until the extinction of the Pagratian dynasty, about the middle of the eleventh century; with the exception of about 230 years at the commencement of the Arsacian dynasty, when Nisibis and Oria were the capitals. It is therefore not unnatural that this name should be substituted for that of the whole kingdom, and thus become known to foreign nations, and that the king of Armenia should be called the king of Ararat." SEE CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS.

But though it may be concluded with tolerable certainty that the land which has thus become intimately connected with the name Ararat is to be identified with a portion of Armenia, we possess no historical data for fixing on any one mountain in that country as the resting-place of the ark. It probably grounded on some of the lower peaks of the chain of mountains encircling that region. This supposition best accords with the nature of the circumstances, and does not conflict with the language of the text when properly weighed. SEE DELUGE. If our supposition be correct, then, for any thing that appears to the contrary, the ark did not touch the earth until the waters were abated to a level with the lower valleys or plains, and, consequently, the inmates were not left upon a dreary elevation of 16,000 or 17,000 feet, never till of late deemed accessible to human footsteps, and their safe descent from which, along with all the "living creatures" committed to their care, would have been a greater miracle than their deliverance from the flood. By this explanation also we obviate the geological objection against the mountain, now called Ararat, having been submersed, which would imply a universal deluge, whereas by the "mountains of Ararat" may be understood some lower chain in Armenia, whose height would not be incompatible: with the notion of a partial flood. Finally, we on this hypothesis solve the question: If the descendants of Noah settled near the resting-place of the ark in Armenia, how could they be said to approach the plain of Shinar (Ge 11:2), or Babylonia, from the East? For, as we read the narrative, the precise resting-place of the ark is nowhere mentioned; and though for a time stationary "over" the mountains of Ararat, it may, before the final subsidence of the waters, have been carried considerably to the east of them. (See Raumer, in the Hertha, 1829, 13:333 sq.; comp. Hoff, Gesch. d. Erdoberflache, Gotha, 1834, 3:369.) SEE ARK.

Bible concordance for ARARAT.

The ancients, however, attached a peculiar sacredness to the tops of high mountains, and hence the belief was early propagated that the ark must have rested on some such lofty eminence. The earliest tradition fixed on one of the chain of mountains which separate Armenia on the south from Mesopotamia, and which, as they also enclose Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds, obtained the name of the Kardu or Carduchian range, corrupted into Gordiaean and Cordymean. This opinion prevailed among the Chaldieans, if we may rely on the testimony of Berosus as quoted by Josephus (Ant. 1:3, 6): "It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans [Κορδυαίων=Koords], and that people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they use as amulets." (See Orelli, Suppl. not. ad Nicol. Damasc. p. 58; Ritter, Erdk. 10:359 sq.) The same is reported by Abydenus (in Euseb. Praep. Evang. 9:4), who says they employed the wood of the vessel against diseases. Hence we are prepared to find the tradition adopted by the Chaldee paraphrasts, as well as by the Syriac translators and commentators, and all the Syrian churches. In the three texts where "Ararat" occurs, the Targum of Onkelos has קִרדּוּ, Kardu; and, according to Buxtorf, the term "Kardyan" was in Chaldee synonymous with "Armenian." At Ge 8:4, the Arabic of Erpenius has Jebel el-Karud (the Mountain of the Kurds), which is likewise found in the "Book of Adam" of the Zabaeans. For other proofs that this was the prevalent opinion among the Eastern Churches, the reader may consult Eutychius (Annals) and Epiphanius (Hoeres. 18). It was no doubt from this source that it was borrowed by Mohammed, who in his Koran (11:46) says "The ark rested on the mountain Al-Judi." That name was probably a corruption of Giordi. i.e. Gordiaean (the designation given to the entire range), but afterward applied to the special locality where the ark was supposed to have rested. This is on a mountain a little to the cast of Jezirah ibn Omar (the ancient Bezabde) on the Tigris. At the foot of the mountain there was a village called Karya Thaminin, i.e. the Village of the Eighty-that being the number (and not eight) saved from the flood according to the Mohammedan belief (Abulfeda, Anteislam. p. 17). The historian Elmacin mentions that the Emperor Heraclius went up, and visited this as "the place of the ark." Here, or in the neighborhood, was once a famous Nestorian monastery —" the Monastery of the Ark," destroyed by lightning in A.D. 776 (see Assemani, Bibl. Or. 2, 111). The credulous Jew, Benjamin of Tudela, says that a mosque was built at Mount Judi, "of the remains of the ark," by the Caliph Omar. Kinneir, in describing his journey from Jezirah along the left bank of the Tigris to Nahr Van, says (Trav. p. 453), "We had a chain of mountains running parallel with the road on the left hand. This range is called the Juda Dag (i.e. mountain) by the Turks, and one of the inhabitants of Nahr Van assured me that he had frequently seen the remains of Noah's ark on a lofty peak behind that village." (Comp. Rich's Kurdistan, 2, 124.) A French savant, Eugene Bore, who visited those parts, says the Mohammedan dervishes still maintain here a perpetually burning lamp in an oratory (Revue Francaise, vol. 12; or the Semeur of October 2, 1839). The selection of this range was natural to an inhabitant of the Mesopotamian plain; for it presents an apparently insurmountable barrier on that side, hemming in the valley of the Tigris with abrupt declivities so closely that only during the summer months is any passage afforded between the mountain and river (Ainsworth's Travels in track of the Ten Thousand, p. 154). Josephus also quotes Nicolaus Damascenus to the effect that a mountain named Baris, beyond Minyas, was the spot. This has been identified with Varaz, a mountain mentioned by St. Martin (Mem. sur 'Armenie, 1:265) as rising to the north of Lake Van; but the only important mountain in the position indicated is described by recent travelers under the name Seiban Tagh; and we are therefore inclined to accept the emendation of Schroeder, who proposes to read Μάσις the indigenous name of Mount Ararat, for Βάρις. After the disappearance of the Nestorian monastery, the tradition which fixed the site of the ark on Mount Judi appears to have declined in credit, or been chiefly confined to Mohammedans, and gave place (at least among the Christians of the West) to that which now obtains, and according to which the ark rested on a great mountain in the north of Armenia-to which (so strongly did the idea take hold of the popular belief) was, in course of time, given the very name of Ararat, as if no doubt could be entertained that it was the Ararat of Scripture. We have seen, however, that in the Bible Ararat is nowhere the name of a mountain, and by the native Armenians the mountain in question was never so designated; it is by them called Macis, and by the Turks Aghur-dagh, i.e. "The Heavy or Great Mountain" (see Kampfer, Amen. 2, 428 sq.). The Vulgate and Jerome, indeed, render Ararat by "Armenia," but they do not particularize any one mountain. Still there is no doubt of the antiquity of the tradition of this being (as it is sometimes termed) the "Mother of the World." The Persians call it Kuh-i-Nuch, "Noah's Mountain." The Armenian etymology of the name of the city of Nakhchevan (which lies east of it) is said to be "first place of descent or lodging," being regarded as the place where Noah resided after descending from the mount. It is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. 1:3, 5) under a Greek name of similar import, viz. Α᾿ποβατήριον (" landing-place"), and by Ptolemy (5, 13, § 12) as Naxuana (Ναξουάνα, see Chesney, Exped. to the Euphrat. 1, 145).

1. The mountain thus known to Europeans as Ararat consists of two immense conical elevations (one peak considerably lower than the other), towering in massive and majestic grandeur from the valley of the Aras, the ancient Araxes. Smith and Dwight give its position north 570 west of Nakhchevan, and south 25º west of Erivan (Researches in Armenia, p. 267); and remark, in describing it before the recent earthquake, that in no part of the world had they seen any mountain whose imposing appearance could plead half so powerfully as this a claim to the honor of having once been the stepping-stone between the old world and the new. "It appeared," says Ker Porter, "as if the hugest mountains of the world had been piled upon each other to form this one sublime immensity of earth, and rocks, and snow. The icy peaks of its double heads rose majestically into the clear and cloudless heavens; the sun blazed bright upon them, and the reflection sent forth a dazzling radiance equal to other suns. My eye, not able to rest for any length of time upon the blinding glory of its summits, wandered down the apparently interminable sides, till I could no longer trace their vast lines in the mists of the horizon; when an irrepressible impulse immediately carrying my eye upward again refixed my gaze upon the awful glare of Ararat" (Trav. 1, 182 sq.; 2, 636 sq.). To the same effect Morier writes: "Nothing can be more beautiful than its shape, more awful than its height. All the surrounding mountains sink into insignificance when compared to it., It is perfect in all its parts; no hard rugged feature, no unnatural prominences; everything is in harmony, and all combines to render it one of the sublimest objects in nature" (Journey, c. 16; Second Journey, p. 312). Several attempts had been made to reach the top of Ararat, but few persons had got beyond the limit of perpetual snow. The French traveler Tournefort, in the year 1700, long persevered in the face of many difficulties, but was foiled in the end. About a century later the Pacha of Bayazid undertook the ascent with no better success. The honor was reserved to a German, Dr. Parrot, in the employment of Russia, who (in his Reise zum Ararat, Berl. 1834; translated by W. T. Cooley, Lond. and N. Y.) gives the following particulars: "The summit of the Great Ararat is in 39º 42' north lat., and 61º 55' east long. from Ferro. Its perpendicular height is 16,254 Paris feet above the level of the sea, and 13,350 above the plain of the Araxes. The Little Ararat is 12,284 Paris feet above the sea, and 9561 above the plain of the Araxes." After he and his party had failed in two attempts to ascend, the third was successful, and on the 27th of September (O. S.), 1829, they stood on the summit of Mount Ararat. It was a slightly convex, almost circular platform, about 200 Paris feet in diameter, composed of eternal ice, unbroken by a rock or stone; on account of the great distances, nothing could be seen distinctly. The observations effected by Parrot have been fully confirmed by another Russian traveler, H. Abich, who, with six companions, reached the top of the Great Ararat without difficulty, July 29, 1845. He reports that, from the valley between the two peaks, nearly 8000 feet above the level of the sea, the ascent can with facility be accomplished. It would appear even that the ascent is easier than that of Mont Blanc; and the best period for the enterprise is the end of July or beginning of August, when there is annually a period of atmospheric quiet, and a clear unclouded sky. Another Russian, M. Antonomoff, has also ascended to the top; and an Englishman, named Seymour, accompanied by a guide to tourists named Orvione, and escorted by four Cossacks and three Armenians, claims likewise to have ascended the mountain, and, to have reached the level summit of the highest peak on the 17th September, 1846. (See extract from a letter in the Caucase, a St. Petersburg Journal, Athenceum, No. 1035, p. 914.) That the mountain is of volcanic origin is evidenced by the immense masses of lava, cinders, and porphyry with which the middle region is covered; a deep cleft on its northern side has been regarded as the site of its crater, and this cleft has been the scene of a terrible catastrophe. An earthquake, which in a few moments changed the entire aspect of the country, commenced on July 2, 1840, and continued, at intervals, until the 1st of September. Traces of fissures and land-slips have been left on the surface of the earth, which the eye of the scientific observer will recognize after many ages. Clouds of reddish smoke and a strong smell of sulphur, which pervaded the neighborhood after the earthquake, seem to indicate that the volcanic powers of the mountain are not altogether dormant. The destruction of houses and other property in a wide tract of country around was very great; fortunately, the earthquake having happened during the day, the loss of lives did not exceed fifty. The scene of greatest devastation was in the narrow valley of Akorhi, where the masses of rock, ice, and snow, detached from the summit of Ararat and its lateral points, were thrown at one single bound from a height of 6000 feet to the bottom of the valley, where they lay scattered over an extent of several miles. (See Major Voskoboinikof's Report, in the Athenceum for 1841, p. 157.) Parrot describes the secondary summit about 400 yards distant from the highest point, and on the gentle depression which connects the two eminences he surmises that the ark rested (Journey to Ararat, p. 179). The region immediately below the limits of perpetual snow is barren, and unvisited by beast or bird. Wagner (Reise. p. 185) describes the silence and solitude that reign there as quite overpowering. Arguri, the only village known to have been built on its slopes, was the spot where, according to tradition, Noah planted his vineyard. Lower down, in the plain of Araxes, is Nakhchevan, where the patriarch is reputed to have been buried (see Am. Bibl. Repos. April, 1836, p. 390-416). SEE NOAH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

2. Returning to the broader signification we have assigned to the term "the mountains of Ararat," as co-extensive with the Armenian plateau from the base of Ararat in the north to the range of Kurdistan in the south, we notice the following characteristics of that region as illustrating the Bible narrative:

(1.) Its elevation. It rises as a rocky island out of a sea of plain to a height of from 6000 to 7000 feet above the level of the sea, presenting a surface of extensive plains, whence, as from a fresh base, spring important and lofty mountain-ranges, having a generally parallel direction from east to west, and connected with each otherly transverse ridges of moderate height.

(2.) Its geographical position. The Armenian plateau stands equidistant from the Euxine and the Caspian seas on the north, and between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean on the south. With the first it is connected by the Acampsis, with the second by the Araxes, with the third by the Tigris and Euphrates, the latter of which also serves as an outlet toward the countries on the Mediterranean coast. These seas were the high roads of primitive colonization, and the plains watered by these rivers were the seats of the most powerful nations of antiquity, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes, and the Colchians. Viewed with reference to the dispersion of the nations, Armenia is the true center (ὀμφαλός) of the world; and it is a significant fact that at the present day Ararat is the great boundary-stone between the empires of Russia, Turkey, and Persia.

(3.) Its physical formation. The Armenian plateau is the result of volcanic agencies: the plains as well as the mountains supply evidence of this. Armenia, however, differs materially from other regions of similar geological formation, as, for instance, the neighboring range of Caucasus, inasmuch as it does not rise to a sharp, well-defined central crest, but expands into plains or steppes, separated by a graduated series of subordinate ranges. Wagner (Reise, p. 263) attributes this peculiarity to the longer period during which the volcanic powers were at work, and the room afforded for the expansion of the molten masses into the surrounding districts. The result of this expansion is that Armenia is far more accessible, both from without and within its own limits, than other districts of similar elevation: the passes, though high, are comparatively easy, and there is no district which is shut out from communication with its neighbors. The fall of the ground in the center of the plateau is not decided in any direction, as is demonstrated by the early courses of the rivers the Araxes, which flows into the Caspian, rising westward of either branch of the Euphrates, and taking at first a northerly direction-the Euphrates, which flows to the south, rising northward of the Araxes, and taking a westerly direction.

(4.) The climate is severe. Winter lasts from October to May, and is succeeded by a brief spring and a summer of intense heat. The contrast between the plateau and the adjacent countries is striking: in April, when the Mesopotamian plains are scorched with heat, and on the Euxine shore the azalea and rhododendron are in bloom, the Armenian plains are still covered with snow; and in the early part of September it freezes keenly at night.

(5.) The vegetation is more varied and productive than the climate would lead us to expect. Trees are not found on the plateau itself, but grass grows luxuriantly, and furnishes abundant pasture during the summer months to the flocks of the nomad Kurds. Wheat and barley ripen at far higher altitudes than on the Alps and the Pyrenees: the volcanic nature of the soil, the abundance of water, and the extreme heat of the short summer bring the harvest to maturity with wonderful speed. At Erzrum, more than 6000 feet above the level of the sea, the crops appear above ground in the middle of June, and are ready for the sickle before the end of August (Wagner, p. 255). The vine ripens at about 5000 feet, while in Europe its limit, even south of the Alps, is about 2650 feet. SEE ARMENIA.

The general result of these observations as bearing upon the Biblical narrative would be to show that, while the elevation of the Armenian plateau constituted it the natural resting-place of the ark after the Deluge, its geographical position and its physical character secured an impartial distribution of the families of mankind to the various quarters of the world. The climate furnished a powerful inducement to seek the more tempting regions on all sides of it. At the same time, the character of the vegetation was remarkably adapted to the nomad state in which we may conceive the early generations of Noah's descendants to have lived. SEE ETHNOLOGY.

 
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