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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ar´arat 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 (Genesis 8:4).

The only other passages where 'Ararat' occurs are 2 Kings 19:37 (Isaiah 37:38) and Jeremiah 51:27. In the former it is spoken of as the country whither the sons of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, fled, after they had murdered their father. 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 is supported by the tradition of that country. The other Scripture text (Jeremiah 51:27) mentions Ararat, along with Minni and Ashkenaz, as kingdoms summoned to arm themselves against Babylon. In the parallel place in Isaiah 13:2-4, the invaders of Babylonia are described as 'issuing from the mountains;' and if by Minni we understand the Minyas in Armenia, 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 (Genesis 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 Ezekiel 38:6, we find Togarmah, another part of Armenia, connected with Gomer, and in Ezekiel 27:14, with Meshech and Tubal, all tribes of the north. With this agree the traditions of the Jewish and Christian churches, and likewise the accounts of the native Armenian writers.

But though it may be concluded with tolerable certainty that the land of 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.

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 Cordyaean. This was at one time the prevalent opinion among the Eastern churches, but it has now declined in credit and given 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. 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 Kuhi Nuch, 'Noah's Mountain.'

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 N. 57° W. of Nakhchevan, and S. 25° W. of Erivan; 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 upwards, again refixed my gaze upon the awful glare of Ararat.' 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 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.'

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Ararat'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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