Judaism is a religion, but even more it’s a philosophy and an ethnicity. An identity. We have special foods, customs, stories derived from wherever “our people” came from — or at least came from most recently.
It was during the time among the Babylonians, and later among the Persians, we incorporated into our folklore shedim (demons) and dibbukim (migrant spirits) as well as the concept of angels and demons (derived from Zoroastrianism). These influences have become a permanent part of Jewish literature, right through today.
So Jews, like other ethnic groups, have our folk tales and mythology. One characters who appears frequently in Jewish folklore is — of all people — Alexander the Great. As a kid, no one was more surprised than I was to find Alexander showing up in stories from the Talmud.
Excerpt from :
THE AMERICA COUNCIL ON JUDAISM
On Alexander the Great’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the wise men of the city come out to meet the conqueror and demonstrate through word play what Alexander would have learned about himself had he but read the Talmud.
Alexander Learns Virtue
He asks these questions of the wise men:
“Who is wise?”
“He who can foresee the future,” answer the wise men.
“Who is a hero?”
“He who conquers himself.”
“Who is rich?”
“He who rests content with what he has.”
“By what means does man preserve his life?”
“When he kills himself.” (Talmudist notes: By this they meant when a man destroys within himself all passion.)
“By what means does a man bring about his own death?”
“When he clings to life.” (Talmudist notes: When he holds on to his passions and belongs to them.)
“What should a man do who wants to win friends?”
“He should flee from glory and should despise dominion and kingship,” the wise men conclude.
At the end of the Judaization process, the Alexander is a humbled dictator. Although the lesson does not transform him into Moses, the Talmudic dialectics bring Alexander the Great down a notch or two and make him a better man and a more benevolent dictator.