Alexander the Great, in conquering the lands of the Middle East, added Judah to his vast empire. In his conquests, he spared the city of Jerusalem and its temple, choosing to not destroy them.
The Jews, however, bowed to subtle Greek conquests. The ideas Alexander brought along with his armies were embraced by many Jews, particularly members of the upper classes, who readily accepted Greek culture.Jerusalem – the city of David and the city of the Jews – soon had a gymnaisum, the very presence of which represented evidence of a significant Greek conquest. The Greek gymnasium was more than an athletic club. It was more like a high school for boys, with a curriculum consisting entirely of Greek learning, with emphasis on Greek classical literature, and a strong emphasis on sports.
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 Greeks' introduction of sports to Jewish youth was particularly offensive to the more traditional Jews. In Greek, the word for "naked" is gymnos. As in Greece, contestants in sporting events at the gymnasium in Jerusalem wore no clothing. Devout Jews regarded this practice as an abomination.
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. In this way, the Greeks attempted to ensure the learning of their own ideas.