The subtle overtaking of Judah

When Alexander the Great added Judah - soon known as Judea - to his conquests, he could have destroyed Jerusalem, but he chose to let it stand. The Greek conquest of the city of David took on a more subtle form than that of sword and spear.

The Greek conquest of Jerusalem was through the mind, particularly of the youth. The Greeks, recognizing they could retain power more easily if they swayed Jewish youth to their viewpoint, used the gymnasium to break down Jewish thought and tradition. The gymnasium was one of the mightiest symbols of the Hellenization - or bringing under Greek influence - of Judah. The gymnasium was more than an athletic club; it was like a school for boys, with a curriculum consisting entirely of Greek learning, with emphasis on Greek classical literature, along with a strong emphasis on sports.The Greek's introduction of sports to Jewish youth was particularly offensive to the more traditional Jews. The Greek word gymnos means "naked"; at the gymnasium Jewish young men who were contestants in sporting events wore no clothing, a Greek practice that was regarded as an abomination by devout Jews.

Greece also established cities where youth, unhampered by old Jewish customs, could be educated in the classical viewpoint. Also, retired Greek soldiers were given land throughout the empire, a practice that ensured exposure to Greek learning and ideas among others in the region.

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