5 Nov. Ezra 5:1-9,6:1-4.13-22

5 Nov. The Second Temple is completed

“The prophets Haggai and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jewish people in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak started working again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were there, helping them.”

“At that time Tattenai, who was the governor west of the Euphrates River, and Shethar-Bozenai and their fellow workers went to the Jewish people and asked, ‘Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and fix these walls?’… The builders were not stopped until a report could go to King Darius and his written answer could be received.”

“This is what was said in the report they sent to him: … ‘King Darius, you should know that we went to the district of Judah where the Temple of the great God is. The people are building that Temple with large stones and they are putting timbers in the walls. They are working very hard and are building very fast.’”

“We asked their elders, ‘Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and these walls?... Now, if the king wishes, let a search be made in the royal records of Babylon. See if King Cyrus gave an order to rebuild this Temple in Jerusalem. Then let the king write to us and tell us what he has decided.’”

“So King Darius gave an order to search the records kept in the treasury in Babylon. A scroll was found in Ecbatana, the capital city of Media. This is what was written on it: Note: King Cyrus gave an order about the Temple of God in Jerusalem in the first year he was king. This was the order: ‘Let the Temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices. Let its foundations be laid; it should be 30 metres high and 30 metres wide. It must have three layers of large stones and then one layer of timbers. The costs should be paid from the king’s treasury.’”

“Now then, Tattenai, governor of west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-Bozenai and all the officers of that area, stay away from there. Do not bother the work on that Temple of God… So Tattenai, the governor west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-Bozenai and their fellow workers carried out King Darius’ order quickly and carefully. The Jewish elders continued to build and were successful because of the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo.”

“They finished building the Temple as the God of Israel had commanded and as kings Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes of Persia had ordered. The Temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar in the sixth year Darius was king…”

“The Jewish people who returned from captivity celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. The priests and Levites had made themselves clean. Then the Levites killed the Passover lambs for all the people who had returned from captivity, for their relatives the priests and for themselves… For seven days they celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread in a very joyful way.”

          (Ezra 5:1-3,6-9,17;6:1-4,6,13-15,19-22)



Encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the work on rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem started again in 520BC - the second year of the reign of Darius I (522-486BC) (see Ezra 4:24). Seeing the rapid progress the builders were making, the Babylonian governor of Trans-Euphrates wrote to the king asking who had authorised the re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem.

King Darius searched the Persian archives at Ecbatana and discovered the decree of King Cyrus, made in 537BC, authorising the restoration of the Temple. Work then proceeded again. The Temple was finally completed in the sixth year of the reign of Darius I and was dedicated in time for the Passover festival in March 516BC.

The design and layout of the Second Temple was revealed in a vision given to the prophet Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 40:1-43:27). According to Ezekiel, the Temple building stood on a raised foundation within an Inner Court and an Outer Court. After climbing from the Inner Court up the steps to the eastern portico, the Outer Sanctuary was entered through a huge doorway. A small wooden incense altar stood inside the Outer Sanctuary.

Beyond this, another monumental doorway led into the Inner Sanctuary containing 'The Most Holy Place' where the Ark of the Covenant was restored. The walls of the Sanctuary were decorated with carved cherubim and palm trees. On the north and south sides of the Inner Sanctuary, a three-storey annex provided ninety small rooms for the priests who officiated in the Temple. On each successive level, the rooms were wider than those underneath, creating an overhanging effect.

The main four-horned stone altar for offering animal sacrifices stood on a raised platform in the Inner Court, reached by steps facing the main eastern gateway leading into the Outer Court. The Outer Court was surrounded by a wall, on the inside of which were thirty rooms. The Outer Court of the Temple was entered by three monumental gateways on the north, south and east sides.

The Second Temple was re-modelled and extended by Herod the Great in 23BC, who built new colonnades and enlarged the Temple courtyards to accommodate more Jewish pilgrims. Ezekiel’s detailed description of the original Second Temple, finished in 516BC, cannot therefore be verified, and is the subject of much discussion and speculation.

The photo shows a model of the Second Temple at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

You can see a photo of the reconstructed altar @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/35-the-exiles-return-to-judah/the-completion-of-the-second-temple-in-jerusalem/

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