(ehr' uh rat) A mountainous region in western Asia mentioned on four occasions in the Bible: (1) the place where the ark came to rest after the flood (Genesis 8:4); (2) the region where Sennacherib's sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, fled for refuge after murdering their father (2 Kings 19:37); (3) Isaiah's version of
2 Kings 19:37 (Isaiah 37:38); (4) Jeremiah's prophetic call for a war league as judgment against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:27). The references in Kings and Isaiah are rendered “Armenia” in KJV, following the Septuagint tradition.
Geography The Ararat of the Old Testament is known as the land of Urartu in sources outside the Bible, especially Assyrian sources. The people of the region identified themselves as “children of Haldi” (the national god) and their land as Biainae. The country was southeast of the Black Sea and southwest of the Caspian, where the head waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were found. Near the center of the land was Lake Van; Lake Sevan lay on its northern border; and Lake Urmia was found in its southeast corner. Modern Turkey, Iran, and Soviet Armenia occupy parts of the ancient land area of Urartu. Mt. Ararat is located to the northeast of Lake Van.
Ararat rises from the lowlands of the Aras River to a height of 17,000 feet. Considering the high elevation, the region is remarkably fertile and pasturable. Archaeologists believe that Ararat received more rainfall in biblical times than it does today, an observation which suggests that the area would have been even more productive as farmland in ancient times.
History of Ararat The height of Urartian political prominence was between 900 and 700 B.C. Culturally the Urartians were akin to the earlier Hurrians and to the Assyrians whose empire stretched to the south. From after 1100 until after 800 B.C., Urartu remained independent of Assyria, and in many ways was a political rival. The rise of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.) in Assyria, followed by Sargon II (721-705 B.C.), crushed any political ambitions Urartu might have had in the region. Continuing a flourishing national culture in their mountain homeland, the Urartians were finally overcome by the invading Armenians at the close of the seventeenth century. See Noah; Ark; and Flood.
A. J. Conyers