Before other men,
In order to be seen
Then you will have
From your Father
Προσέχετε δὲ τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μήγε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ Πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.
This is a unique saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that begins with a warning (Προσέχετε). The followers of Jesus were not to practice religious piety or righteousness (δὲ τὴν δικαιοσύνην ὑμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν) before other people (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων), in order to be seen by them (πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς). If you did this pompous action, you were not going to have a reward (εἰ δὲ μήγε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε) from your heavenly father (παρὰ τῷ Πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς). Although righteousness and religious piety were good things, Jesus’ disciples were not to parade it before others, because their Father in heaven would not reward them. The theme of the heavenly Father appears over and over again.
“What is that coming up from the wilderness?
It is like a column of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense.
It has all the fragrant powders of the merchant.
It is the litter of Solomon!
Around it are sixty mighty men
Of the mighty men of Israel.
They are all equipped with swords.
They are experts in war.
Each has his sword at his thigh
Because of alarms by night.”
This is the start of another poem with the armies of Solomon coming out of the wilderness in some kind of parade procession. They were like a column of smoke. However, they had a very nice fragrant smell of myrrh and frankincense, the favorite expensive perfume of the ancient world, as well as many of the smells of a powder merchant. They were called the litter of Solomon as if they were kittens. They were 60 mighty men of Israel, experts in war with swords at their sides ready for action.
“In his malice toward the Jewish citizens, King Antiochus sent Apollonius, the captain of the Mysians, with an army of twenty-two thousand. The king commanded him to kill all the grown men. They were to sell the women and boys as slaves. When this man arrived in Jerusalem, he pretended to be peaceably disposed. He waited until the holy Sabbath day. Then, finding the Jews not at work, he ordered his men to parade under arms. He put to the sword all those who came out to see them. Then he rushed into the city with his armed warriors. He killed great numbers of people.”
As in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, King Antiochus IV sent a “chief collector” to Jerusalem. There it was 2 years later, but here there is no exact time period. There he was unnamed tax collector, but here it is Apollonius, who was a Mysian of Asia Minor with a huge army. However, in both stories there is the idea that he came peacefully, but then struck the people of the city. Here there is the added dimension that he did this destruction on the Sabbath when the Jews were not working. In both cases, he killed many people and took others into slavery.