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Meaning and etymology of the name Ararat

Ararat Ararat

Ararat is the name of a mountain range, which is famous for being the site of the first ship wreck in history: the stranding of the Ark of Noah (Genesis 8:4). Nowadays nobody knows for sure where the Ararat might be, but in the days of Hezekiah people still did, as the assassins of king Sennacherib of Assyria were reported to have fled there (2 Kings 19:37).

The word ararat is probably imported from a foreign language and it doesn't really mean anything in Hebrew. But according to Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names the name Ararat comes from 1) the common Hebrew word har (har) hill, mountain. And 2) the Hebrew verb yarad (yarad) to go down, descend, march down. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Mountain Of Descent, which is a wonderful interpretation if it didn't ignore the final teth.

The following cluster of words seems more appropriate: arar ('arar), to curse; retet (retet), trembling, panic, and rata (rata), wring out (Job 16:11), a word that, according to BDB Theological Dictionary may have to do with yarat (yarat), precipitate, or be headlong, contrary (Numb 22:32, "...because your way is contrary to me." BDB Theological Dictionary suggest an alternative reading, "...thou hast precipitated the journey in front of me.")

The name Ararat seems to stylize the Noah story: A curse and a trembling; then a mountain and a future in a flash laid out.



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