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Model of Herod's Temple, King Herod's renovation of the old Second Temple

The Second Temple stood between 516 BCE and 70 CE, during which time it was the center of Jewish sacrificial worship. It was the second temple in Jerusalem, built to replace the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon.

The accession of Cyrus the Great of Persia in 538 BCE made the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple possible.[1] According to the Bible, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4, 2 Chron 36:22-23), construction started at the original site, which had remained a devastated heap during the approximate 70 years of captivity (Dan. 9:1-2). After a relatively brief halt, brought about by peoples who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), work resumed circa 521 BCE under the Persian King Darius (Ezra 5) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (circa 515 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year.

Around 20 BCE, Herod the Great renovated the Temple, which became known as Herod's Temple.

The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE under Titus, decidedly ending the Great Jewish Revolt that had began four years earlier. The lower levels of the Western Wall form part of the few surviving remains of Herod's complex.[2]

Traditional rabbinic sources state that the Second Temple stood for 420 years and based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 350 BCE (3408 AM), 166 years later than secular estimates, and destruction in 70 CE (3829 AM).[3]

Contents

Rebuilding the Temple

A stone (2.43x1 m) with Hebrew inscription "To the Trumpeting Place" excavated by Benjamin Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the Second Temple

Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel, arrangements were almost immediately made to reorganize the desolated Yehud Province after the demise of the Kingdom of Judah seventy years earlier. The body of pilgrims, forming a band of 42,360,[4] having completed the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their proceedings by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of their first concerns was to restore their ancient house of worship by rebuilding their destroyed Temple and reinstituting the sacrificial rituals known as the korbanot.

On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by contributing personally 1,000 golden darics, besides other gifts, the people poured their gifts into the sacred treasury with great enthusiasm.[5] First they erected and dedicated the altar of God on the exact spot where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old temple; and in the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing, the foundations of the Second Temple were laid. A wide interest was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with mingled feelings by the spectators.[6][7]

The Samaritans made proposals for co-operation in the work. Zerubbabel and the elders, however, declined all such cooperation, feeling that the Jews must build the Temple without help. Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. According to Ezra 4:5, the Samaritans sought to "frustrate their purpose" and sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the work was suspended.

Seven years later, Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, died,[8] and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. On his death, the "false Smerdis," an imposter, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months, and then Darius I of Persia became king (522 BCE). In the second year of this monarch the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion,[9] under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE, more than twenty years after the return from captivity. The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people[10] although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power. The Book of Haggai includes a prediction[11] that the glory of the second temple would be greater than that of the first.

Missing articles

Since some of the original artifacts were, according to the biblical account, lost after the destruction of the First Temple, the Second Temple lacked the following holy articles[12]:

In the Second Temple, the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) was separated by curtains rather than a wall as in the First Temple. Still, as in the Tabernacle, the Second Temple included:

The Second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great.[13]

Rededication by the Maccabees

Following the conquest of Judea by Alexander the Great, it became part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt until 200 BCE, when King Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated King Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt at the Battle of Panion.[14] Judea became at that moment part of the Seleucid empire of Syria. When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and its religious services stopped, Judaism was effectively outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He also banned circumcision and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the Temple.[15]

Following the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid empire, the Second Temple was rededicated and became the religious pillar of the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom, as well as culturally associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Reconstruction under Herod

Model of Herod's Temple

Around 19 BCE, under the rule of the Roman empire, King Herod the Great began a massive renovation and expansion of the Second Temple complex. The Temple itself was torn down and a new one built in its place. The resulting structure is sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple, but it is still called the Second Temple because the sacrificial rituals continued unabated throughout the construction process.

Destruction

Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (1850 painting by David Roberts)

In 66 CE the Jewish population rebelled against the Roman empire. Four years later, in 70 CE, Roman legions under Titus reconquered and subsequently destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.

The Arch of Titus, located in Rome and built to commemorate Titus's victory in Judea, depicts Roman soldiers carrying off the Menorah from the Temple. Jerusalem itself was razed by the Emperor Hadrian at the end of the Bar Kochba Rebellion in 135 CE when he attempted to establish a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina.

The destruction date according to the Hebrew calendar was the 9th of Av, also known as Tisha B'Av (29 or 30 July 70).

The song and associated music video by haredi Israeli artist Gad Elbaz, By the Rivers of Babylon (Hebrew: על נהרות בבל‎), is themed on the destruction of the Second Temple.[16]

See also

References

  1. ^ Samuelson, Norbert Max. Revelation and the God of Israel, Cambridge University Press, 2002. pg. 226. ISBN: 052181202X
  2. ^ Porter, J.R. The Illustrated Guide to the Bible, Oxford University Press US, 1998. pg. 91. ISBN: 0195214625
  3. ^ Goldwurm, Hersh. History of the Jewish people: the Second Temple era, Mesorah Publications, 1982. Appendix: Year of the Destruction, pg. 213. ISBN: 089906454X
  4. ^ Ezra 2:65 HE
  5. ^ Ezra 2
  6. ^ Haggai 2:3
  7. ^ Zechariah 4:10
  8. ^ 2 Chronicles 36:22-23
  9. ^ Ezra 5:6-6:15
  10. ^ Ezra 6:15,16
  11. ^ Ezra 2:19
  12. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, temple The Second Temple
  13. ^ Ezra 1:7-11
  14. ^ De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) The Battle of Panion (200 BC)
  15. ^ Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews Jewish War i. 34
  16. ^ Gad Elbaz - By the Rivers of Babylon music video The song itself is based on the Hebrew Bible's Book of Psalms: Psalm 137

External links

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.


After the death of the last Jewish Prophets and still under Persian rule, the leadership of the Jewish people was in the hands of five successive generations of zugot ("pairs of") leaders. They flourished first under the Persians then under the Greeks. As a result the Pharisees and Sadduccees were formed.

Contents

Construction of the Second Temple

Construction of the Second Temple was completed under the leadership of the last three Jewish Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi with Persian approval and financing. ) with Hebrew inscription "To the Trumpeting Place" excavated by Benjamin Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the Second Temple]]


Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel, arrangements were almost immediately made to reorganize the desolated Yehud Province after the demise of the Kingdom of Judah seventy years earlier. The body of pilgrims, forming a band of 42,360,[1] having completed the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their proceedings by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of their first concerns was to restore their ancient house of worship by rebuilding their destroyed Temple and reinstituting the sacrificial rituals known as the korbanot.

On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by contributing personally 1,000 golden darics, besides other gifts, the people poured their gifts into the sacred treasury with great enthusiasm.[2] First they erected and dedicated the altar of God on the exact spot where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old temple; and in the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing, the foundations of the Second Temple were laid. A wide interest was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with mingled feelings by the spectators.[3][4]

The Samaritans made proposals for co-operation in the work. Zerubbabel and the elders, however, declined all such cooperation, feeling that the Jews must build the Temple without help. Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. According to Ezra 4:5, the Samaritans sought to "frustrate their purpose" and sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the work was suspended.

Seven years later, Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, died,[5] and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. On his death, the "false Smerdis," an imposter, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months, and then Darius I of Persia became king (522 BCE). In the second year of this monarch the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion,[6] under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE, more than twenty years after the return from captivity. The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people[7] although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power. The Book of Haggai includes a prediction[8] that the glory of the second temple would be greater than that of the first.

Hellenistic period

In 332 BCE the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great. After his demise, and the division of Alexander's empire among his generals, the Seleucid Kingdom was formed.

During this time currents of Judaism were influenced by Hellenistic philosophy developed from the 3rd century BCE, notably the Jewish diaspora in Alexandria, culminating in the compilation of the Septuagint. An important advocate of the symbiosis of Jewish theology and Hellenistic thought is Philo.

The Hasmonean Kingdom

featuring a Menorah]]

A deterioration of relations between hellenized Jews and religious Jews led the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes to impose decrees banning certain Jewish religious rites and traditions. Consequently, the orthodox Jews revolted under the leadership of the Hasmonean family, (also known as the Maccabees). This revolt eventually led to the formation of an independent Jewish kingdom, known as the Hasmonaean Dynasty, which lasted from 165 BCE to 63 BCE. The Hasmonean Dynasty eventually disintegrated as a result of civil war between the sons of Salome Alexandra, Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II. The people, who did not want to be governed by a king but by theocratic clergy, made appeals in this spirit to the Roman authorities. A Roman campaign of conquest and annexation, led by Pompey, soon followed.

References








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