1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hasbeya

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HASBEYA, or Hasbeiya, a town of the Druses, about 36 m. W. of Damascus, situated at the foot of Mt. Hermon in Syria, overlooking a deep amphitheatre from which a brook flows to the Hasbāni. The population is about 5000 (4000 Christians). Both sides of the valley are planted in terraces with olives, vines and other fruit trees. The grapes are either dried or made into a kind of syrup. In 1846 an American Protestant mission was established in the town. This little community suffered much persecution at first from the Greek Church, and afterwards from the Druses, by whom in 1860 nearly 1000 Christians were massacred, while others escaped to Tyre or Sidon. The castle in Hasbeya was held by the crusaders under Count Oran; but in 1171 the Druse emirs of the great Shehāb family (see Druses) recaptured it. In 1205 this family was confirmed in the lordship of the town and district, which they held till the Turkish authorities took possession of the castle in the 19th century. Near Hasbeya are bitumen pits let by the government; and to the north, at the source of the Hasbāni, the ground is volcanic. Some travellers have attempted to identify Hasbeya with the biblical Baal-Gad or Baal-Hermon.