Temple, the Second

After the return from captivity, under Zerubbabel (q.v.) and the
high priest Jeshua, arrangements were almost immediately made to
reorganize the long-desolated kingdom. The body of pilgrims,
forming a band of 42,360, including children, having completed
the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks
of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their
proceeding by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of
their first cares was to restore their ancient worship by
rebuilding the temple. On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the
governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by
contributing personally 1,000 golden darics (probably about
$6,000), besides other gifts, the people with great enthusiasm
poured their gifts into the sacred treasury (Ezra 2). First they
erected and dedicated the altar of Jehovah 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 (B.C. 535),
amid great public excitement and rejoicing (Ps. 116; 117; 118),
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 (Hag. 2:3; Zech. 4:10). The
Samaritans made proposals for a co-operation in the work.
Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the elders, however, declined all such
cooperation: Judah must build the temple without help.
Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. The
Samaritans sought to "frustrate their purpose" (Ezra 4:5), and
sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the
work was suspended. Seven years after this Cyrus died
ingloriously, having killed himself in Syria when on his way
back from Egypt to the east, and was succeeded by his son
Cambyses (B.C. 529-522), on whose death the "false Smerdis," an
imposter, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months,
and then Darius Hystaspes became king (B.C. 522). In the second
year of this monarch the work of rebuilding the temple was
resumed and carried forward to its completion (Ezra 5: 6-17;
6:1-15), under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and
admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready
for consecration in the spring of B.C. 516, twenty years after
the return from captivity.

This second temple had not the ark, the Urim and Thummim, the
holy oil, the sacred fire, the tables of stone, the pot of
manna, and Aaron's rod. As in the tabernacle, there was in it
only one golden lamp for the holy place, one table of shewbread,
and the incense altar, with golden censers, and many of the
vessels of gold that had belonged to Solomon's temple that had
been carried to Babylon but restored by Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).

This second temple also differed from the first in that, while
in the latter there were numerous "trees planted in the courts
of the Lord," there were none in the former. The second temple
also had for the first time a space, being a part of the outer
court, provided for proselytes who were worshippers of Jehovah,
although not subject to the laws of Judaism.

The temple, when completed, was consecrated amid great
rejoicings on the part of all the people (Ezra 6:16), although
there were not wanting outward evidences that the Jews were no
longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign
power.

Hag. 2:9 is rightly rendered in the Revised Version, "The
latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,"
instead of, "The glory of this latter house," etc., in the
Authorized Version. The temple, during the different periods of
its existence, is regarded as but one house, the one only house
of God (compare 2:3). The glory here predicted is spiritual glory
and not material splendour. "Christ himself, present bodily in
the temple on Mount Zion during his life on earth, present
spiritually in the Church now, present in the holy city, the
heavenly Jerusalem, of which he is the temple, calling forth
spiritual worship and devotion is the glory here predicted"
(Perowne).