The Second Temple (Hebrew: בית־המקדש השני, romanized: Beit HaMikdash HaSheni, transl. 'Second House of the Sanctum'), also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem between c. 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple (built at the same location during Solomon's reign over the United Kingdom of Israel) that had been destroyed in 587 BCE by the Neo-Babylonian Empire during its conquest of the Kingdom of Judah; the fallen Jewish kingdom was subsequently annexed as a Babylonian province and part of its populace was held captive in Babylon. Construction on the Second Temple began some time after the conquest of Babylon by the Achaemenid Persian Empire, following a proclamation by the Persian king Cyrus the Great that enabled the Jewish return to Zion. The completion of the Second Temple in the new Achaemenid province of Yehud marked the beginning of the Second Temple period in Jewish history.
|Affiliation||Second Temple Judaism|
|Deity||God in Judaism|
|Location||Temple Mount, Jerusalem|
|Country||Achaemenid Empire (at time of construction)|
|Creator||Zerubbabel; expanded by Herod the Great|
|Completed||c. 516 BCE|
|Height (max)||45.72 metres (150.0 ft)|
|Criteria||Second Jewish Temple|
|Excavation dates||1930, 1967, 1968, 1970–1978, 1996–1999, 2007|
|Archaeologists||Charles Warren, Benjamin Mazar, Ronny Reich, Eli Shukron, Yaakov Billig|
|Condition||Destroyed; built over by the Dome of the Rock during Muslim rule in the 7th century CE|
|Ownership||Jerusalem Islamic Waqf|
|Public access||See Temple Mount entry restrictions|
According to the Bible, the Second Temple was originally a rather modest structure constructed by a number of Jewish returnees to the Levant from Babylon under the Achaemenid-appointed governor Zerubbabel. However, during the reign of Herod the Great over the Herodian Kingdom of Judea, it was completely refurbished and the original structure was totally overhauled into the large edifices and façades that are more recognized in modern recreated models. The Second Temple stood for approximately 585 years before its destruction in 70 CE by the Roman Empire as retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt.[a]
Jewish eschatology includes a belief that the Second Temple will be replaced by a future Third Temple in Jerusalem; Eastern Orthodox Christians contend that the Third Temple already exists in every consecrated and canonical church through the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
The accession of Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire in 559 BCE made the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple possible. Some rudimentary ritual sacrifice had continued at the site of the first temple following its destruction. According to the closing verses of the second book of Chronicles and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1–4, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23), construction started at the original site of the altar of Solomon's Temple. After a relatively brief halt due to opposition from peoples who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), work resumed c. 521 BCE under Darius the Great (Ezra 5) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (c. 516 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year.
The original core of the book of Nehemiah, the first-person memoir, may have been combined with the core of the Book of Ezra around 400 BCE. Further editing probably continued into the Hellenistic era. The book tells how Nehemiah, at the court of the king in Susa, is informed that Jerusalem is without walls and resolves to restore them. The king appoints him as governor of the province Yehud Medinata and he travels to Jerusalem. There he rebuilds the walls, despite the opposition of Israel's enemies, and reforms the community in conformity with the law of Moses. After 12 years in Jerusalem, he returns to Susa but subsequently revisits Jerusalem. He finds that the Israelites have been backsliding and taking non-Jewish wives, and he stays in Jerusalem to enforce the Law.
Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity, arrangements were 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, 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. 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 that 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 mixed feelings by the spectators.
The Samaritans wanted to help with this work but Zerubbabel and the elders declined such cooperation, feeling that the Jews must build the Temple unaided. 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, and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. On his death, the "false Smerdis", an impostor, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months, and then Darius became king (522 BCE). In the second year of his rule the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion, 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 Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people, 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 that the glory of the Second Temple would be greater than that of the first.
Some of the original artifacts from the Temple of Solomon are not mentioned in the sources after its destruction in 586 BCE, and are presumed lost. The Second Temple lacked the following holy articles:
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. According to the Babylonian Talmud however, the Temple lacked the Shekhinah (the dwelling or settling divine presence of God) and the Ruach HaKodesh (holy spirit) present in the First Temple.
Traditional rabbinic literature states that the Second Temple stood for 420 years, and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, placed construction in 356 BCE (3824 AM), 164 years later than academic estimates, and destruction in 68 CE (3828 AM).[b]
The fifth order, or division, of the Mishnah, known as Kodashim, provides detailed descriptions and discussions of the religious laws connected with Temple service including the sacrifices, the Temple and its furnishings, as well as the priests who carried out the duties and ceremonies of its service. Tractates of the order deal with the sacrifices of animals, birds, and meal offerings, the laws of bringing a sacrifice, such as the sin offering and the guilt offering, and the laws of misappropriation of sacred property. In addition, the order contains a description of the Second Temple (tractate Middot), and a description and rules about the daily sacrifice service in the Temple (tractate Tamid).
Following the conquest of Judea by Alexander the Great, it became part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt until 200 BCE, when the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated Pharaoh Ptolemy V Epiphanes at the Battle of Paneion. Judea became at that moment part of the Seleucid Empire. When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and its religious services stopped, Judaism was effectively outlawed.
In 167 BCE, Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He also, according to Josephus, "compelled Jews to dissolve the laws of the country, to keep their infants un-circumcised, and to sacrifice swine's flesh upon the altar; against which they all opposed themselves, and the most approved among them were put to death." This accords with the account in the book of 1 Maccabees.
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.
There is some evidence from archaeology that further changes to the structure of the Temple and its surroundings were made during the Hasmonean rule. Salome Alexandra, the queen of the Hasmonean Kingdom appointed her elder son Hyrcanus II as the high priest of Judaea. Her younger son Aristobulus II was determined to have the throne, and as soon as she died he seized the throne. Hyrcanus, who was next in the succession, agreed to be content with being high priest. Antipater, the governor of Idumæa, encouraged Hyrcanus not to give up his throne. Eventually, Hyrcanus fled to Aretas III, king of the Nabateans, and returned with an army to take back the throne. He defeated Aristobulus and besieged Jerusalem. The Roman general Pompey, who was in Syria fighting against the Armenians in the Third Mithridatic War, sent his lieutenant to investigate the conflict in Judaea. Both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus appealed to him for support. Pompey was not diligent in making a decision about this, which caused Aristobulus to march off. He was pursued by Pompey and surrendered but his followers closed Jerusalem to Pompey's forces. The Romans besieged and took the city in 63 BCE. The priests continued with the religious practices inside the Temple during the siege. The temple was not looted or harmed by the Romans. Pompey himself, perhaps inadvertently, went into the Holy of Holies and the next day ordered the priests to repurify the Temple and resume the religious practices.
Reconstruction of the temple under Herod began with a massive expansion of the Temple Mount temenos. For example, the Temple Mount complex initially measured 7 hectares (17 acres) in size, but Herod expanded it to 14.4 hectares (36 acres) and so doubled its area. Herod's work on the Temple is generally dated from 20/19 BCE until 12/11 or 10 BCE. Writer Bieke Mahieu dates the work on the Temple enclosures from 25 BCE and that on the Temple building in 19 BCE, and situates the dedication of both in November 18 BCE.
Religious worship and temple rituals continued during the construction process. An agreement was made between Herod and the Jewish religious authorities: the sacrificial rituals, called korbanot (offerings), were to be continued unabated for the entire time of construction, and the Temple itself would be constructed by the priests. This is the reason Herod's Temple is still counted as the Second — functioning did not stop, although it was the third building fulfilling the purpose.[of what?]
The old temple built by Zerubbabel was replaced by a magnificent edifice. Herod's Temple was one of the larger construction projects of the 1st century BCE. Josephus records that Herod was interested in perpetuating his name through building projects, that his construction programs were extensive and paid for by heavy taxes, but that his masterpiece was the Temple of Jerusalem.
Mt. Moriah had a plateau at the northern end, and steeply declined on the southern slope. It was Herod's plan that the entire mountain be turned into a giant square platform. The Temple Mount was originally intended[by whom?] to be 1,600 feet (490 m) wide by 900 feet (270 m) broad by 9 stories high, with walls up to 16 feet (4.9 m) thick, but had never been finished. To complete it, a trench was dug around the mountain, and huge stone "bricks" were laid. Some of these weighed well over 100 tons, the largest measuring 44.6 by 11 by 16.5 feet (13.6 m × 3.4 m × 5.0 m) and weighing approximately 567-628 tons,[c] while most were in the range of 2.5 by 3.5 by 15 feet (0.76 m × 1.07 m × 4.57 m) (approximately 28 tons). King Herod had architects from Greece, Rome and Egypt plan the construction. The blocks were presumably quarried by using pickaxes to create channels. Then they hammered in wooden beams and flushed them with water to force them out. Once they were removed, they were carved into precise squares and numbered at the quarry to show where they would be installed. The final carving would have been done by using harder stones to grind or chisel them to create precise joints. They would have been transported using oxen and specialized carts. Since the quarry was uphill from the temple they had gravity on their side but care needed to be taken to control the descent. Final installation would have been done using pulleys or cranes. Roman pulleys and cranes were not strong enough to lift the blocks alone so they may have used multiple cranes and levers to position them.[better source needed] As the mountainside began to rise, the western side was carved away to a vertical wall and bricks were carved to create a virtual continuation of the brick face, which was continued for a while until the northern slope reached ground level. Part of the Antonia hill to the north of Moriah was annexed to the complex and the area between was filled up with landfill.
The project began with the building of giant underground vaults upon which the temple would be built so it could be larger than the small flat area on top of Mount Moriah. Ground level at the time was at least 20 ft (6.1 m) below the current level, as can be seen by walking the Western Wall tunnels. Legend has it that the construction of the entire complex lasted only three years, but written sources such as Josephus say that it took far longer, although the Temple itself may only have taken that long. During a Passover visit by Jesus, he was told that it had been under construction for 46 years. It is possible that the complex had only just been completed a few years previously when the future emperor Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 CE.
The Court of the Gentiles was primarily a bazaar, with vendors selling souvenirs, sacrificial animals, food. Currency was also exchanged, with Roman currency exchanged for Tyrian money, as also mentioned in the New Testament account of Jesus and the Money Changers, when Jerusalem was packed with Jewish pilgrims who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000. Guides that provided tours of the premises were also available. Jewish males had the unique opportunity to be shown inside the temple itself.
The priests, in their white linen robes and tubular hats, were everywhere, directing pilgrims and advising them on what kinds of sacrifices were to be performed.[clarification needed]
Above the Huldah Gates, on top the Temple walls, was the Royal Stoa, a large basilica praised by Josephus as "more worthy of mention than any other [structure] under the sun"; its main part was a lengthy Hall of Columns which includes 162 columns, structured in four rows. The Royal Stoa contained a marketplace, administrative quarters, and a synagogue.[dubious ] On the upper floors of the Royal Stoa, the great Jewish sages held court, priests and Levites performed various chores, and from there, tourists[dubious ] were able to observe the events.
The Royal Stoa is widely accepted to be part of Herod's work; however, recent archaeological finds in the Western Wall tunnels suggest that it was built in the first century during the reign of Agripas, as opposed to the 1st century BCE, while the theory that Herod began the extension and the Royal Stoa is based mainly on Josephus's possibly politically motivated claim. During Herod's reign the stoa was not yet open to the public.
To the east of the court was Solomon's Porch, and to the north,[dubious ] the soreg, the "middle wall of separation",[dubious ] a stone wall described as being 3 cubits high by Josephus (Wars 5.5.2 [3b] 6.2.4), separated the Court of the Gentiles from the inner courts where only Jews could enter.
The Greek word used is πτερυγιον (pterugion), which literally means a tower, rampart, or pinnacle. According to Strong's Concordance, it can mean little wing, or by extension anything like a wing such as a battlement or parapet. The archaeologist Benjamin Mazar thought it referred to the southeast corner of the Temple overlooking the Kidron Valley.
According to Josephus, there were ten entrances into the inner courts, four on the south, four on the north, one on the east and one leading east to west from the Court of Women to the court of the Israelites, named the Nicanor Gate. The gates were: On the south side (going from west to east) the Fuel Gate, the Firstling Gate, the Water Gate. On the north side, from west to east, are the Jeconiah Gate, the Offering Gate, the Women's Gate and the Song Gate. On the Eastern side, the Nicanor gate, which is where most Jewish visitors entered. A few pieces of the Soreg have survived to the present day.[dubious ]. According to Josephus, Herod the Great erected a golden eagle over the great gate of the Temple.
Within this area was the Court of the Women, open to all Jews, male and female. Even a ritually unclean priest could enter to perform various housekeeping duties. There was also a place for lepers (considered ritually unclean), as well as a ritual barbershop for Nazirites. In this, the largest of the temple courts, one could see constant dancing, singing and music.
Only men were allowed to enter the Court of the Israelites, where they could observe sacrifices of the high priest in the Court of the Priests. The Court of the Priests was reserved for priests and Levites.
Between the entrance of the actual Temple building and the curtain veiling the Holy of Holies were the Temple vessels: the menorah, the incense-burning altar, and various other implements.
Jews from distant parts of the Roman Empire would arrive by boat at the port of Jaffa (now part of Tel Aviv), where they would join a caravan for the three-day trek to the Holy City and would then find lodgings in one of the many hotels or hostelries. Then they changed some of their money from the profane standard Greek and Roman currency for Jewish and Tyrian money, the latter two considered religious. The pilgrims would purchase sacrificial animals, usually a pigeon or a lamb, in preparation for the following day's events.
The first thing pilgrims would do would be to approach the public entrance on the south side of the Temple Mount complex. They would check their animals, then visit a mikveh, where they would ritually cleanse and purify themselves. The pilgrims would then retrieve their sacrificial animals, and head to the Huldah gates. After ascending a staircase three stories in height, and passing through the gate, the pilgrims would find themselves in the Court of the Gentiles.
In 66 CE the Jewish population rebelled against the Roman Empire. Four years later, on 4 August 70 CE (the 9th day of Av and possibly the day on which Tisha B'Av was observed) or 30 August 70 CE, Roman legions under Titus retook and destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The Arch of Titus, which was built in Rome to commemorate Titus's victory in Judea, depicts a Roman victory procession with soldiers carrying spoils from the Temple, including the Menorah. According to an inscription on the Colosseum, Emperor Vespasian built the Colosseum with war spoils in 79 CE – possibly from the spoils of the Second Temple.
The Temple was on the site of what today is the Dome of the Rock. The gates led out close to Al-Aqsa Mosque (which came much later). Although Jews continued to inhabit the destroyed city, Emperor Hadrian established a new city called Aelia Capitolina. At the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, many of the Jewish communities were massacred and Jews were banned from living inside Jerusalem. A pagan Roman temple was set up on the former site of Herod's Temple.
Historical accounts relate that not only the Jewish Temple was destroyed, but also the entire Lower city of Jerusalem. Even so, according to Josephus, Titus did not totally raze the towers (such as the Tower of Phasael, now erroneously called the Tower of David), keeping them as a memorial of the city's strength. The Midrash Rabba (Eikha Rabba 1:32) recounts a similar episode related to the destruction of the city, according to which Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, requested of Vespasian that he spare the westernmost gates of the city (Hebrew: פילי מערבאה) that lead to Lydda (Lod). When the city was eventually taken, the Arab auxiliaries who had fought alongside the Romans under their general, Fanjar, also spared that westernmost wall from destruction.
In 1871, a hewn stone measuring 60 cm × 90 cm (24 in × 35 in) and engraved with Greek uncials was discovered near a court on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and identified by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau as being the Temple Warning inscription. The stone inscription outlined the prohibition extended unto those who were not of the Jewish nation to proceed beyond the soreg separating the larger Court of the Gentiles and the inner courts. The inscription read in seven lines:
Translation: "Let no foreigner enter within the parapet and the partition which surrounds the Temple precincts. Anyone caught [violating] will be held accountable for his ensuing death."
In 1935 a fragment of another similar Temple warning inscription was found.
Another ancient inscription, partially preserved on a stone discovered below the southwest corner of the Herodian Mount, contains the words "to the place of trumpeting...". The stone's shape suggests that it was part of a parapet, and it has been interpreted as belonging to a spot on the Mount described by Josephus, "where one of the priests to stand and to give notice, by sound of trumpet, in the afternoon of the approach, and on the following evening of the close, of every seventh day..." closely resembling what the Talmud says.
After 1967, archaeologists found that the wall extended all the way around the Temple Mount and is part of the city wall near the Lions' Gate. Thus, the Western Wall is not the only remaining part of the Temple Mount. Currently, Robinson's Arch (named after American Edward Robinson) remains as the beginning of an arch that spanned the gap between the top of the platform and the higher ground farther away. Visitors and pilgrims also entered through the still-extant, but now plugged, gates on the southern side that led through colonnades to the top of the platform. The Southern wall was designed as a grand entrance. Recent archaeological digs have found numerous mikvehs (ritual baths) for the ritual purification of the worshipers, and a grand stairway leading to one of the now blocked entrances.
On September 25, 2007, Yuval Baruch, archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a quarry compound that may have provided King Herod with the stones to build his Temple on the Temple Mount. Coins, pottery and an iron stake found proved the date of the quarrying to be about 19 BCE.[how?] Archaeologist Ehud Netzer confirmed that the large outlines of the stone cuts is evidence that it was a massive public project worked by hundreds of slaves.
Bar Kokhba tetradracm showing the Jerusalem Temple façade 132–135 CE
Arch of Titus showing spoils of Jerusalem Temple
Part of the south-western upper corner of Herod's temple colonnade with ancient "Trumpeting Place" Hebrew inscription.
The Warning Inscription found in 1871
A copy of the temple warning inscription found in 1871
Fragment of Second Temple Warning
The period between the construction of the Second Temple in 515 BCE and its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE witnessed major historical upheavals and significant religious changes that would affect most subsequent Abrahamic religions. The origins of the authority of scripture, of the centrality of law and morality in religion, of the synagogue and of apocalyptic expectations for the future all developed in the Judaism of this period.
According to this calculation, this year which is one-thousand, one-hundred and seven years following the destruction, which year in the Seleucid era counting is [today] the 1,487th year (corresponding with Tishri 1175–Elul 1176 CE), being the year 4,936 anno mundi, it is a Seventh Year [of the seven-year cycle], and it is the 21st year of the Jubilee" (END QUOTE). = the destruction occurring in the lunar month of Av, two months preceding the New Year of 3,829 anno mundi.
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