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THE MOUNTAINS OF ARARAT, UPON WHICH THE ARK OF
In what country these mountains are situated, and on what part of them the ark rested, are the objects of our present inquiry. From Bochart we learn that the Sibylline oracles placed the mountains of Ararat in Phrygia, which cannot be reconciled with the statement of the inspired writer. That learned and indefatigable author traces the mistake to the name of a city in Phrygia, Apamea Cibotus. The word kißwtos is of Greek origin, denoting in that language an ark. From this trifling circumstance, the pretended sibyl inferred, that the ark of Noah rested on an adjoining hill, and gave the surname of Cibotus to Apamea. But Bochart assigns a very different reason, that Apamea received the surname of Cibotus, because it was inclosed in the shape of an ark by three rivers, which give it the resemblance to a chest or ark. In like manner, he observes, the port of Alexandria was called Cibotus, from the bay by which it was nearly surrounded. The true situation of Ararat must therefore be sought for in a different country.*
The common opinion is, that Ararat is only another name for Armenia. The Vulgate, accordingly, has on Genesis viii. 4, the mountains of Armenia, for the mountains of Ararat. The Greek interpreters, and after them the Vulgate, render the word Ararat, in 2 Kings xix. 37, Isaiah xxxvii. 38, in the same manner, and our
* Bochart. Phaleg. lib. i. cap. 3, p. 14.
translators have followed their example:— And it came to pass as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia.'
Some writers, however, contend that the mountains of Ararat may extend beyond the limits of that country. The whole of that stupendous range known to the ancients by the name of mount Taurus, which, beginning in the Lesser Asia, stretches as far as the East Indies, might very well be called by Moses the mountains of Ararat, because that was the first country of the Greater Asia through which they passed, and where they reached a much greater elevation than they had done before. If this view be just, the mountains of Ararat will extend as far as to mount Caucasus, in the confines of Tartary, Persia, and India.*
That part of Armenia on which the ark rested, is generally supposed, by the favourers of the first opinion, to have been the Gordiæan mountains, near the source of the Tigris. In proof of this opinion, the ancients, who generally embraced it, assure us that some remains of the ark were to be seen on those mountains so late as the days of Alexander the Great ; that in the neighbourhood was situated a town called Cemain or Themana, from the Hebrew word Shemen, which signifies eight, in allusion to the eight persons that were saved from the deluge ; and that the very place where Noah and his family went out of the ark, was distinguished by a name expressive of the event. The following argument is quoted from a modern writer :- It is, with great probability, supposed that Noah built the ark in the country of Eden,+ and since the deluge was not only caused by rains, but also by the overflowing of the ocean, as the Scripture tells us,
* Dr Well's Hist. Geog. vol. i. p. 30.
+ It is supposed, on good grounds, that the material of which the ark was built was the cypress wood, which grew in great abundance
vii. 11, that the fountains of the great deep were broken up; this overflowing, which came from the Persian sea, running from the south, and meeting the ark, of course carried it away to the north towards the Gordiæan mountains. And the learned and ingenious Huetius has observed, that, considering the figure of the ark, which made it not so fit for speedy sailing, and also its heaviness, which made it draw much water, the space of an hundred and fifty days, which was the time the deluge lasted, was but a proportionable time for the moving of the ark from the place where it was made, to the Gordiæan mountains. So that both the situation of these mountains, in respect to the course of the waters of the deluge, and also its distance from the place where Noah lived and built the ark, do jointly conspire to render this hypothesis still more pro
Those, on the other hand, who extend the mountains of Ararat beyond the confines of Armenia, fix on the summit of Caucasus as the place where the ark rested after the flood. The strongest argument in favour of this opinion, by the admission of some of its defenders, is founded on these words of Moses :-“As they went from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.'! If then they came from the east, as the text plainly says, they might come from those parts of Asia on the south of Caucasus, which lie in that country, and which, from its well-known durability, was much used anciently in ship-building. Arrianus states, that the fleet built by Alexander the Great at Babylon, was formed entirely of cypress. The province of Babylonia, in which it was generally thought that the country of Eden was situated, produced this wood in great abundance.-Editor.
* Well's Hist. Geog. vol. i. p. 31.
t" The Mohammedans maintain, that it was on Mount Judi, the Mons Masius of the classical writers, the Mash of the Hebrews, Gen. x. 23, the ark first rested ; and that this is Ararat, and not the mountain to which that name is given in Armenia. Hasslin Aga maintained to me, that he has, with his own eyes, seen the remains of Noah's ark!'-Rich's Koordistan, vol. ii. p. 124.-Editor.
$ Genesis xi. 2.
east of Shinar, though inclining to the north. But they could not possibly come from the Gordiæan mountains in the greater Armenia, which lie far to the north-west of Shinar. And they endeavour to strengthen their argument, by adding an old and constant tradition among the natives of the region near Caucasus, formerly called Margiana, that a great vineyard in this country was of Noah's planting, after he had descended from the adjacent mountain. But, admitting the existence of such a vineyard in Margiana, it cannot be proved that it was planted by the hands of Noah; for it is evident that mere tradition, however old and constant, is no sufficient proof. Again, if we are to understand by the expression of Moses, “The fountains of the great deep were broken up,' the overflowing of the sea, which is at least a very natural exposition, the Caspian must also have burst over its natural limits, and inundated the surrounding countries. But a current from the sea, meeting another from the Persian gulf, must have carried the ark toward the north-west, in a line directly opposite to the summits of Caucasus, and left it on the very spot where the defenders of the first hypothesis say it rested-on the mountains of Armenia. Or, should it be said that the current from the Caspian might be counteracted by another equally powerful from the north-east point of the Mediterranean, still it must have retarded the approach of the ark to the top of Caucasus, till the waters of the deluge subsiding, left it on some intervening ridge ; and none can be named with so much probability as the Gordiæan mountains; for it is both agreeable to Scripture and reason to say, the ark rested on the highest part of the mountains of Ararat; and it is well known that the Gordiæan chain are the loftiest mountains in Armenia.
But the strongest part of their argument remains,That the family of Noah travelled from the east to the plain of Shinar, which is dire tly south from the Gordixan mountains. Even to this a satisfactory answer
may be returned. It proceeds on the gratuitous sup. position, that Noah and his family descended from the mountain on which the ark rested, into the plain of Shinar. That they continued for many years to occupy the summits of these mountains, is extremely probable. The plains and the valleys being reduced to a mire by the waters of the deluge, must have remained long incommodious for the habitations of man. This must have been the case, particularly among the rivers of Babylon, where the plain of Shinar is situated, and where the progress of their settlements must have experienced an additional obstruction, from the extensive marshes and stagnant lakes that were left by the deluge. Nor were they under any necessity to descend precipitately into the plains. The region to which the wisdom of Providence had directed the ark, was admirably calculated to be the cradle of the postdiluvian world ; it is fertile in the highest degree, adorned with the olive, the symbol of peace and safety, and abounding with every production necessary for the support of human life. On the sides of the hills and mountains which intersect this delightful country, the sons of Noah must have found a safe retreat, and the necessaries of life for themselves and their families in sufficient abundance; and as it was natural for them to move towards the rising sun, they extended their settlements, or directed their journeys eastward, till they approached the confines of India. As the marshes and the lakes disappeared, and the face of the plains became dry and habitable, the Noachidæ might descend from the mountains in search of pasture for their flocks, and of more commodious habitations for themselves, at a great distance to the eastward from the land of Shinar; and pitching their tents, as did the patriarchs in after ages, and taking up their occasional residence in spots remarkable for their beauty, or recommended by the accommodation they afforded, they might at length, without any fixed purpose of settling in Shinar, reach