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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(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.).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Berytus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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