“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.
“On the monthly celebration of the king’s birthday, the Jews were taken, under bitter constraint, to partake of the sacrifices. When a festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were compelled to wear wreaths of ivy and to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus. At the suggestion of the people of Ptolemais, a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities that they should adopt the same policy toward the Jews. They should make them partake of the sacrifices. They should kill those who did not choose to change over to the Greek customs. One could see, therefore, the misery that had come upon them.”
Here we have in some detail, the various pagan worship services that were introduced in Jerusalem instead of the generic comments of 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. First they had to celebrate the king’s birthday on a monthly basis with sacrifices. Then they had to celebrate the feast of Dionysius, the god of wine and grapes by processing with ivy wreaths on their heads. On top of that, the people of Ptolemais on the seacoast sent a decree that all the Greek cities should have the Jews participate in the Greek sacrifices. If they did not change to the Greek ways, they would be killed. This is something like what happened in the later Roman Empire times, when the emperor wanted to be worshiped as a divinity. Those Christians who failed to do so were killed and became Christian martyrs. Perhaps there was some Jewish martyrs but their names are not mentioned here.