ber’-i-tus, be-ri’-tus (Berutos; Arabic: modern Beirut, 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 Sam 8:8 or the Berothah of Ezek 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). Beirut 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.