TRIPOLIS (trĭp'e*ch-lĭs) A Greek name meaning tri-city. It was a seaport of Phoenicia, which got its name from the three groups of people who lived there, those from Tyre, Sidon, and Arvad. The city is mentioned in Ezra.4.9 as one whose officials opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

TRIPOLIS trĭp’ ə lĭs (Τρίπολις, three-city). This once important seaport in Phoenicia, N of Byblos, derived its name from its triple occupancy by citizens of Tyre, Sidon, and Arvad. Perhaps during the latter Pers. period (in the 4th cent. b.c.), it became the center of the conclaves from the neighboring localities. It was a member of the Phoenician League. It seems to have been a place of commercial importance, being bounded on three sides by the sea. It was also the seat of the federal council of the represented Phoen. states.

Demetrius Soter (162 b.c.), son of Seleucus of Syria, fleeing from Rome where he had been a hostage, collected a large force, took the city and gained possession of the country, executing his cousin Antiochus V (2 Macc 14:1; Jos. Antiq. XII. x. 1). Both the Seleucids, and later the Romans, added much to the city; Herod the Great built a gymnasium (Jos. War I. xxi. 11).

Tripolis was taken by the Mohammedans, a.d. 638; later (1109) by the Crusaders; and again by the Muslims, under Sultan Kala’un, of Egypt (1299), who wrought great destruction.

Constant attacks by enemies, and the feeling of insecurity, prompted removal two m. inland where the present Tarabulus was founded in 1366 on the banks of the Nahr Kadisha. The ancient Tripolis, under the later name of el-Mina, became the seaport for the modern Tarabulus. The British occupied the city in 1918; in 1920 it was incorporated in the State of Gran Liban. In 1941, it became part of the independent Republic of Lebanon. It specializes in soap, tobacco, sponges and fruits; and it exports eggs and cotton.


A. H. M. Jones, Cities of the Roman Empire (1937), 231, 251.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Demetrius the son of Seleucus, having fled from Rome, collected "a mighty host and fleet," sailed into the haven of Tripoils, took the city, obtained possession of the country, and put to death his cousin, Antiochus V, along with his guardian Lysias (2 Macc 14:1 ff; Josephus, Ant, XII, x, 1). After a period of unsuccessful guerrilla warfare against Hyrcanus in Samaria, Antiochus Cyzicenus retired to Tripells (Ant., XII, x, 2). The city was founded by the Phoenicians and was a member of the Phoenician league. It was divided into 3 quarters by walls--hence, the name "triple city"--and these were occupied by settlers from Tyre, Sidon, and Aradus, respectively. The federal council of these states sat here. Its position on the Phoenician seacoast, with easy access to the interior, gave it many advantages from the commercial point of view. The Seleucid monarchs, the Romans, and Herod the Great did much to beautify the city; the last-named building a gymnasium (Josephus, BJ, I, xxi, 11). When attacked by the Arabs the inhabitants took ship and escaped. Later their places were taken by Jews and Persians. Captured by the Crusaders in 1109, it was taken by the Egyptians in 1289. The ancient city was surrounded on three sides by the sea. The site is now occupied by el-Mina, the harbor of the modern city, Tarabulus, which stands on the bank of Nahr Kadisha, about 2 miles away. The inhabitants number about 23,000. The town gives its name to a district under the vilayet of Beirut, which has always been famous for its fruitfulness.

W. Ewing