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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

( Βηρυτός ), a town of Phoenicia (Dionys. Per. 5, 911; Pomp. Mela, 1:12, § 5; Amm. Marc. 14:8, § 9; Tacit. Hist. 2, 81; Anton. Itin. and Peut. Tab.), which has been (apparently without good foundation) identified with the Berothah (q.v.) or Berothai of Scripture ( 2 Samuel 8:8;  Ezekiel 47:16; comp.  2 Chronicles 8:3). It lay on the sea-shore, about twenty- five miles north of Sidon (comp. Ptolem. 5, 15; Strabo, 16:755; Mannert, VI, 1:378 sq.). After its destruction by Tryphon, B.C. 140 (Strabo, 16, 756), it was reduced by the Roman Agrippa, and colonized by the veterans of the fifth Macedonian legion," and seventh "Augustan," and hence became a Roman colonia (Pliny, 5, 17), under the name of Julia Felix (Orelli, Inscr. n. 514; Eckhel, Numbers 3, 356; Marquardt, Handb. d. Roan. Alt. p. 199), and was afterward endowed with the rights of an Italian city (Ulpian, Dig. 15, 1, § 1; Pliny, 5, 10). It was at this city that Herod the Great held the pretended trial of his two sons (Josephus, Ant. 16, 11, 1-6). The elder Agrippa greatly favored the city, and adorned it with a splendid theater and amphitheatre, besides baths and porticoes, inaugurating them with games and spectacles of every kind, including shows of gladiators (Josephus, Ant. 19, 7, 5).

Here, too, Titus celebrated the birthday of his father Vespasian by the exhibition of similar spectacles, in which many of the captive Jews perished (Josephus. War, 7, 3, 1: comp. 5,1). Coins of the imperial period, both Roman and native, are not uncommon (see Rasche, Lex. Numbers 1, 1492). Afterward Berytus became renowned as a school of Greek learning, particularly of law, to which scholars repaired from a distance. Its splendor may be computed to have lasted from the third to the middle of the sixth century (Milman's Gibbon, 3, 51). Eusebius relates that the martyr Appian resided here some time to pursue Greek secular learning (De Mart. Palaest. c. 4), and Gregory Thaumaturgus repaired to Berytus to perfect himself in civil law (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. 4, 27). A later Greek poet describes it in this respect as "the nurse of tranquil life" (Nonnus, Dionys. 41, fin.). Under the reign of Justinian, it was laid in ruins by an earthquake, and the school removed to Sidon, A.D. 551 (Milman's Gibbon, 7:420). During the Crusades, under the name of Baurim (Alb. A q. 5, 40; 10:8), it was an object of great contention between the Christians and Moslems, and fell successively into the hands of both. In A.D. 1110 it was captured by Baldwin I (Wilken, Kreuzz. 2, 212, and in A.D. 1187 by Salah-ed-din (ib. III, 2:295). It was in the neighborhood of Berytus that the scene of the combat between St. George (who was so highly honored in Syria) and the dragon is laid. The place is now called Beirut (Abulfeda, Syr. p. 48, 94), and is commercially the most important place in Syria (Niebuhr, Reisen, 2, 469 sq.; Joliffe, p. 5). It is the center of operations of the American missionaries in Palestine, and altogether the most pleasant residence for Franks in all Syria, being accessible by a regular line of steamers from Alexandria (see M'Culloch's Geogr. Dict. s.v. Beyrout). The population is nearly 80,000 souls (Badeker, Palestine and Syria, p. 441). In the middle of September, 1840, it was bombarded by the combined English and Austrian fleets for the ejectment of the troops of Mehemet Ali from Syria; but it has now recovered from the effects of this devastation (Wilson, Bible Lands, 2, 205 sq.).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [2]

ber´i - tus , bē̇ - rı̄´tus ( Βηρυτός , Bērutós  ; modern Beirût, Beyrout, Beyrouth): An ancient Phoenician city situated on the North side of a promontory jutting out from the base of Lebanon to the West into the Mediterranean and forming a bay on the North connected with the fable of George and the Dragon, and hence called George's Bay. The city is about 25 miles North of Sidon and about 12 South of the famous Lycus or Dog River, at the mouth of which are found the sculptured rocks bearing the monuments of the ancient kings of Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria.

The city has been thought by some to be the Berothai of  2 Samuel 8:8 or the Berothah of   Ezekiel 47:16 , but the connection in which these cities are mentioned seems to preclude the identification. The town is, however, an ancient one, for it occurs in Tell el-Amarna Letters as Beruti where it is closely connected with Gebal of which it may have been a dependency. Though not mentioned in Old Testament or New Testament it appears in the history of Herod the Great as an important town where was assembled a court of 150 judges, presided over by Saturninus, a former Roman consul, to try the case which Herod brought against his two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, who were condemned there by the Roman court ( Ant. , Xvi , xi, 2). Beirût was a Roman colony at this time where many veterans settled and it afterward became the seat of a great Roman law school which was attended, in the days of Justinian, by thousands of students. It was utterly destroyed by an earthquake in 551 ad, and for a time was abandoned. Many remains of temples and public buildings of the Roman period remain. It rose to some importance during the Crusades and is at present the chief seaport of Syria, and has the only harbor on the coast. It is a town of about 125,000 inhabitants.