For these thousands of years that ancient country had stood along its sea, between the waters and the great desert, peopled we know not how and sprung from we know not what origins; its separated small fertile bays, its lesser plains, its hill cities and ports had grown. The plough of Egypt had come in and ploughed for four centuries; there had arisen a harvest of various polities, small but full of life, and among them Israel, a newcomer from the desert. Assyria had moulded, crushed, leveled, still further prepared that ground; and in doing so would seem to have destroyed all patriotisms, and even the Jewish hope, kept alive in one small corner almost to the end, but, under the last of Babylon, extinguished. That little flame had been coaxed to life again; Israel through the act of Persia had returned. Greece had flooded in, beneficent, life-giving, and the spirit of Greece conquered and occupied all–save Judah; and even in Judah the Grecian columns arose and the power of the Greek tongue was everywhere. Then had been accomplished fulness under the name of Rome, and the world was one.
Some thirty years or a little less after the peace of Augustus began there was born to an obscure young woman from Galilee (who had come down with her older husband for the census to Bethlehem, the little town just south of Jerusalem) a […] child.
The purpose of Syria was accomplished.
The Desire of the everlasting hills had come.
(from Hiliare Belloc, The Battleground)
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