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I think not. It is possible that the Berothai of 2 Samuel, viii. 8, from which David took exceeding much brass, was Beirût, though that city seems to have been situated to the east or southeast of Hamath; still, since Hadadezer was either king of Damascus, or in close alliance with it, Berothai may have been her sea-port, as Beirût is now; and after David had conquered Damascus, he might naturally enough cross over Lebanon to her sea-port, where so much of her wealth would be collected. It is not at all likely that the Berothah mentioned in Ezekiel, xlvii. 16, as one of the points in the northern boundary of the land of Israel, was our city; and from the similarity of names, and the apparent geographical position of both, we can scarcely doubt but that Ezekiel's Berothah and Samuel's Berothai were identical, and, of course, that neither of them was Beirût.
Dr. Wilson suggests that our city derived its name from Berûth, the wife of Elion, who dwelt at Byblus (Jebail), and if the chronicle of Sanchoniatho could be depended upon, I should have little hesitation in adopting the idea. This would give it a very high antiquity. This much is certain, that, at the time when the fragments of Sanchoniatho were forged, if they are a fabrication, Beirût was an important city, for it is repeatedly mentioned in them. Bochart and others are of opinion that the Baal-berith of Judges, viii. 33, was the god Baal of the city of Berith, or Beirût. Nor is this supposition too far-fetched to merit consideration; for we know, not merely from these fragments of Sanchoniatho, but from other ancient authors, that the chief seat of Baal worship was in the regions around Byblus and Beirût. Intelligent natives say that the name is derived from beer, the word for well in nearly all the Shemitic dialects. Beirût would then be the city of wells, and such it pre-eminently is. Almost every house has one. They vary in depth from twenty to one hundred and fifty feet, according to position.
After all that can be said, or even surmised, the student of our city's ancient story is surprised and disappointed to find her origin enveloped in such utter obscurity, and sighs
for records which must once have existed, but are now forever lost. It is not to be believed that a spot so admirably adapted for a great city should have been neglected by the Phoenicians. Every foot of this densely crowded coast, and especially every available sea-port, was appropriated by that enterprising people. And this is decidedly the most beautiful and healthy locality at the head of the Mediterranean. The roadstead, it is true, is better adapted to modern shipping than to that of ancient times; but still there are small inlets and sheltered coves too valuable to be overlooked on a coast where there are no good harbors. We may safely conclude, therefore, that it was occupied at a very early day by a colony, probably from Sidon, with which it has ever been closely connected. Accordingly, the earliest mention of Beirût by Greek and Latin geographers and historians implies that it was then, and had been previously, a place of importance. And this position it maintains ever after, as may be gathered from Strabo, Ptolemy, Pliny, Josephus, and other authors, both heathen and Christian. It became a Roman colony in the reign of Augustus, and bad Julia Felix added to its name. Agrippa adorned and beautified it with colonnades, porticoes, theatres, baths, and other public buildings, and their remains are scattered over the gardens, and entombed beneath the rubbish of the ancient city. The number of large columns of both gray and red granite built into the quay is surprising, but a far greater number lie at the bottom of the sea in front of the town. In 1839–40, Mahmûd Bey, governor of Beirût, built a break-water entirely of these columns, fished up from the floor of the harbor. The unparalleled storm at the close of 1840 overturned this wall of columns, and spread them out again where they had been before. Probably this was only the repetition of a former attempt to protect the quay of Beirût
, when these columns were gathered from the ruins of the city and cast into the sea for that purpose. It is otherwise difficult to account for their being there at all. There is a tradition that Fakhr ed Dîn filled up the harbor to prevent the landing of pirates; but, if there is any foundation for the report, his work is probably to be found in the heaps of rubbish directly in front of the landing.
It was in the theatres of Agrippa, I suppose, that Titus celebrated his own victories over Jerusalem, and his father's birth-day, by gladiatorial shows, in which the miserable captives of Zion perished in great numbers, fighting with wild beasts and with one another, as Josephus informs us in the seventh book of his “ Wars.
Though the apostles seem never to have visited Beirûta fact somewhat remarkable - yet Christianity was early planted here, and so flourished that it soon became the seat of a bishopric. Under the Christian emperors, it continued to prosper down to the reign of Justinian. It was then one of the most celebrated seats of learning in the empire, and its law-school was frequented by youth from the first families in the state. Then, as now, it was the most beautiful city on this coast. But its decline commenced under this reign. On the 9th of July, A.D. 551, one of those awful earthquakes, which repeatedly shook the whole Roman world in the time of Justinian, seems to have entirely destroyed Beirút, overthrew her colleges, churches, temples, theatres, and palaces, and buried multitudes of all classes beneath the ruins; and, although the city was rebuilt, it never regained its former magnificence. You can scarcely walk through a garden, or dig a foundation for a house, without coming upon the memorials of this dreadful calamity. It is amazing to see how deeply some of these ruins are entombed, suggesting the idea that the very terraces on which these costly structures stood were upheaved and precipitated on those below. And this corresponds with the history of that fearful time. We are told that enormous chasms were opened, huge and heavy bodies were discharged into the air, the sea alternately advanced and retreated beyond its ordinary bounds,” and a mountain was torn from yonder bold promontory (then called Theoprosopon, and now Ras es Shukkah), and cast into the sea, where it formed a mole for the harbor of Butrone. Perhaps the Arabic name, Ras es Shukkah—the cape that was split open —may be a memento and witness to this catastrophe.
During the Middle Ages, Beirut shared in all the troubles and revolutions which accompanied and grew out of the triumph of Mohammedanism, including the crusades of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. It was taken by Baldwin in 1110, and, during the two hundred years of Frank rule on this coast, it was several times captured and recaptured by Saracen and Christian. Since the close of the thirteenth century, few signal events have happened to vary the monotony of her story. But we must not forget to mention that exploit which was considered her greatest glory in the days of legendary lore. It was here that St. George killed the dragon; exactly when, or what particular dragon I know not, but he must have killed him, for he has never been seen since that time, and all agree that he is dead. If you doubt, I refer you to the deep bay down yonder, which owes its name to this contest on its shore. I can show you the well into which the victorious saint cast the horrid monster, and the spot where he washed his bloody hands after this dirty work was done. Not every legend of those days of facile faith is so strongly attested. In the eighth century, also, an illustrious miracle spread the name and fame of our good city far and wide. Some image-hating Hebrews, in scorn and mockery, attempted to go through the acts of the Crucifixion upon a very holy image and cross; when, as they thrust a spear into the side, to their confusion and horror, a large quantity of blood and water gushed forth. The thing is at least possible, and without resorting to supernatural interference. A little manoeuvring, or a little money, could set either real or spurious Jews at work in the exact way to bring on the catastrophe. But let that pass; Beirût has no need of such doubtful claims to immortality. Judging from the scanty and indefinite notices by the pilgrims of the mediæval ages, the number of her inhabitants varied from 5000 to 10,000, engaged in commerce and in growing silk and oil, which for several centuries have continued to be the staple productions of this neighborhood.
Within the last thirty years our city has rapidly increased in population, commerce, and wealth. When Mohammed Aly wrested Syria from the Sultan in 1830–31, he made Beirût the grand quarantine station on this coast, and obliged all ships to come to her port. European merchants had already selected it for the seat of their operations, and, as the foreign consuls settled in this city, the government was led to make it the capital of the country. Thirty years ago the population was 5000, and the shops and markets were •dependent for supplies on Sidon; now there are not less than 40,000 inhabitants, and Sidon is wholly dependent on Beirût. Thirty years ago there was scarcely a decent house outside of the walls; now two thirds of the population reside in the gardens, and hundreds of convenient dwellings, and not a few large and noble mansions, adorn the charming suburbs. No city in Syria, perhaps none in the Turkish empire, has had so rapid an expansion. And it must continue to grow and prosper, with but one proviso to cast a shade of doubt upon her bright future. Should a railroad ever connect the head of this sea with the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, that will infallibly dictate where the emporium of Syria is to be. If Beirût can attract this mighty line of trade and travel to her door, she will quickly take rank among the great cities of the world; if she will not, or can not, then must she wane before some other rising queen of the East.
Are there any antiquities about Beirût which merit attention?
Very few. We have columns and sarcophagi in abundance, and some of them have inscriptions which tell their own story. An ancient aqueduct has lately been discovered, cut through the rock, and passing beneath the city at Bab Yacob. It must either have had a more permanent supply than the present, which fails in dry weather, when it is most needed, or have been connected with the great canal which brought water from Lebanon to ancient Berytus.
Are the existing remains of this ancient work extensive?
More so than travelers, or even natives, are aware of. On the top of that dark, sandy ridge of Lebanon, to the northeast of Brūmmanah, is a fountain of delicious water. It was