The Fifth Book of the Maccabees
Gaza of the Philistines was still a great city: the Arabs of the wilderness traded there for pottery and knives; and caravans from Egypt stopped in Gaza because of its many wells of fresh water and the gardens on every side. But its inhabitants were no longer a warlike people. Even the speech they once spoke had long been forgotten; Nehemiah, three hundred years before, heard the last of it in Ashdod.
The army of Judea pitched their tents on the sand dunes between Gaza and the sea and in the groves of olive trees—under a sky alive with kites and vultures. Above the camp bristling with spears was the blue standard: a lion rampant embroidered upon it and the motto of the Hasmoneans, “Who is like You among the mighty, Lord?”
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