Legends of Old Testament Characters/Chapter 18

XVIII.

RELICS OF THE ARK.

WE have already seen that Berosus relates how in his time portions of the ark were removed, and used as amulets. Josephus says that remains of the ark were to be seen at his day upon Ararat; and Nicolas of Damascus reports the same. S. Epiphanius writes: "The wood of the ark of Noah is shown to this day in the Kardasan (Koord) country."[1] And he is followed by a host of fathers. El Macin, in his History of the Saracens, relates that the Emperor Heraclius visited the relics after he had conquered the Persians, in the city of Thenia, at the roots of Ararat. Haithon, the Armenian, declares that upon the snows of Ararat a black speck is visible at all times: this is Noah's ark.[2] Benjamin of Tudela, in his Itinerary, says that all the wood was carried away by the Caliph Omar, in A.D. 640, and was placed by him in a temple or mosque he erected in an island formed by the Tigris. One of the beams is shown in the Lateran at Rome. In 1670, Johann Jansenius Strauss ascended to a hermit's cell on the side of Ararat, to bind up the coenobite's leg which was broken. The hermit's cell, said Strauss, was five days' journey up the mountain, athwart three clouds, and above a region of intolerable cold, in a calm warm atmosphere. From the account of the hermit, Herr Strauss learnt that the old man had dwelt there twenty-five years, and that he had felt there neither rain nor winds. On the top of the mountain, fifteen Italian miles from the cell, through the clear air, was distinguishable the great vessel grounded in the snow. The hermit had reached it, and of one of its planks had cut a cross; which he exhibited to the German traveller.

In the town of Chenna, in Arabia Felix, says the traveller Prévoux, is a large building, said to have been erected by Noah; and a large piece of wood is exhibited through an iron grating, which is said to have formed a portion of his ark. There is also to be seen at Chenna a well, said to have been dug by the patriarch Jacob, of which the water is icy cold.

The Armenians say that a certain monk, Jacob, once ascended Ararat, and carried off a fragment of the ark, which he made afterwards into a cross, and this is preserved amongst the sacred relics of Etchmiadzin. When the Persian king, Abassus the Great, sent to inquire about the ark, the monks replied that it was in vain for him to attempt to reach it, on account of the precipices and glaciers, and innumerable difficulties of the way.[3]

  1. Adv. Hæres., lib. i.
  2. De Tartaris, c. 9.
  3. Reliquiæ Arcæ Noæ, in Fabricius, i. art. 33.