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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Arme´nia, a country of Western Asia, is not mentioned in Scripture under that name, but is supposed to be alluded to in the three following Hebrew designations, which seem to refer either to the country as a whole, or to particular districts.

Ararat, the land upon (or over) the mountains of which the ark rested at the Deluge (Genesis 8:4); whither the sons of Sennacherib fled after murdering their father (2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38); and one of the 'kingdoms' summoned, along with Minni and Ashkenaz, to arm against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:27).

Minni is mentioned in Jeremiah 51:27, along with Ararat and Ashkenaz, as a kingdom called to arm itself against Babylon. The name is by some taken for a contraction of 'Armenia.'

Thogarmah, mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel 27:14; Ezekiel 38:6.

The boundaries of Armenia may be described generally as the southern range of the Caucasus on the north, and a branch of the Taurus on the south. It forms an elevated table-land, whence rise mountains which (with the exception of the gigantic Ararat) are of moderate height. The climate is generally cold, but salubrious. The country abounds in romantic forest and mountain scenery, and rich pasture-land, especially in the districts which border upon Persia. Ancient writers notice the wealth of Armenia in metals and precious stones. The great rivers Euphrates and Tigris both take their rise in this region, as also the Araxes, and the Kur or Cyrus. Armenia is commonly divided into Greater and Lesser, the line of separation being the Euphrates; but the former constitutes by far the larger portion, and indeed the other is often regarded as pertaining rather to Asia Minor. There was anciently a kingdom of Armenia, with its metropolis Artaxata: it was sometimes an independent state, but most commonly tributary to some more powerful neighbor. Indeed at no period was the whole of this region ever comprised under one government, but Assyria, Media, Syria, and Cappadocia shared the dominion or allegiance of some portion of it, just as it is now divided among the Persians, Russians, Turks, and Kurds. In later times Armenia was the border-country where the Romans and Parthians fruitlessly strove for the mastery; and since then it has been the frequent battle-field of the neighboring states. Towards the end of the last war between Russia and Turkey, large bodies of native Armenians emigrated into the Russian dominions, so that their number in what is termed Turkish Armenia is now considerably reduced. By the treaty of Turkomanshee (21st Feb. 1828) Persia ceded to Russia the Khanats of Erivan and Nakhshivan. The boundary-line (drawn from the Turkish dominions) passes over the Little Ararat; the line of separation between Persian and Turkish Armenia also begins at Ararat: so that this famous mountain is now the central boundary-stone of these three empires.

Christianity was first established in Armenia in the fourth century; the Armenian Church has a close affinity to the Greek Church in its forms and polity; it is described by the American missionaries who are settled in the country as in a state of great corruption and debasement. The total number of the Armenian nation throughout the world is supposed not to exceed 2,000,000. Their favorite pursuit is commerce, and their merchants are found in all parts of the East.

The Armenian or Haikan language, notwithstanding the great antiquity of the nation to which it belongs, possesses no literary documents prior to the fifth century of the Christian era. The translation of the Bible, begun by Miesrob in the year 410, is the earliest monument of the language that has come down to us. The dialect in which this version is written, and in which it is still publicly read in their churches, is called the old Armenian. The dialect now in use—the modern Armenian—in which they preach and carry on the intercourse of daily life, not only departs from the elder form by dialectual changes in the native elements of the language itself, but also by the great intermixture of Persian and Turkish words which has resulted from the conquest and subjection of the country. It is, perhaps, this diversity of the ancient and modern idioms which has given rise to the many conflicting opinions that exist as to the relation in which the Armenian stands to other languages. As to form, it is said to be rough and full of consonants; to possess ten cases in the noun—a number which is only exceeded by the Finnish; to have no dual; to have no mode of denoting gender in the noun by change of form; to bear a remarkable resemblance to Greek in the use of the participle, and in the whole syntactical structure; and to have adopted the Arabian system of meter.





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

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