The Second Temple (, ''Beit HaMikdash HaSheni
'') was the Jewish holy temple
, which stood on the Temple Mount
, between c. 516 BCE and c. 70 CE. It gave name to the Second Temple period
According to the Hebrew Bible
, it replaced Solomon's Temple
(the First Temple),
[''Understanding Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism''](_blank)
KTAV Publishing House, Lawrence H. Schiffman, page 48–49
which was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire
in 586 BCE, when Jerusalem was conquered
and part of the population of the Kingdom of Judah
was taken into exile to Babylon
According to the Bible, the Second Temple was originally a rather modest structure constructed by a number of Jewish exile groups returning to the Levant
under the Achaemenid
-appointed governor Zerubbabel
. However, during the reign of Herod the Great
, the Second Temple was completely refurbished, and the original structure was totally overhauled into the large and magnificent edifices and facades that are more recognizable. Much as the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple
and Jerusalem in c. 70 CE as retaliation for an ongoing Jewish revolt
. The Second Temple lasted for a total of 585 years (516 BCE to c. 70 CE).
includes a belief that the Second Temple will be replaced by a future Third Temple
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
, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1
, 2 Chronicles 36:22
), 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 I
) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (c. 516 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year.
These events represent the final section in the historical narrative of the Hebrew Bible
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 daric
s, 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 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 mixed feelings by the spectators (, ).
s 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
. 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 Ark of the Covenant
containing the Tablets of Stone
, before which were placed the pot of manna
and Aaron's rod
* The Urim and Thummim
(divination objects contained in the Hoshen
* The holy oil
* The sacred fire.
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 Menorah
(golden lamp) for the ''Hekhal
* The Table of Showbread
* The golden altar of incense
, with golden censer
According to the Mishnah
, the "Foundation Stone
" stood where the Ark used to be, and the High Priest
put his censer on it on Yom Kippur
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 350 BCE
) , 166 years later than secular estimates
, and destruction in 70 CE (3829 AM
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
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 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
Hasmonean dynasty and Roman conquest
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 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 in line to be the king, agreed to be contented with being the 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
, 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.
When the Roman emperor Caligula
planned to place his own statue inside the temple, Herod's grandson Agrippa I
was able to intervene and to persuade him not to do that.
Herod's Temple as imagined in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem
; east at the bottom.
Date and duration
Reconstruction of the temple under Herod
began with a massive expansion of the Temple Mount. For example, the Temple Mount complex initially measured 7 hectares in size, but Herod expanded it to 14.4 hectares (=144000 square meters) 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.
[''Secrets of Jerusalem's Temple Mount'', Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer, 1998]
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.
Extent and financing
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.
[Flavius Josephus: ''The Jewish War'']
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.
Later the sanctuary shekel
was reinstituted to support the temple as the temple tax
Platform, substructures, retaining walls
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 to be 1600 feet wide by 900 feet broad by 9 stories high, with walls up to 16 feet 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 feet by 11 feet by 16.5 feet and weighing approximately 567 to 628 tons, while most were in the range of 2.5 by 3.5 by 15 feet (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 weren't strong enough to lift the blocks alone so they may have used multiple cranes and levers to position them. 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. (6m) 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 the Jews replied 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.
Court of the Gentiles
This area was primarily a bazaar
, with vendors selling souvenirs, sacrificial animals, food, as well as currency changers, exchanging Roman for Tyrian
money because the Jews were not allowed to coin their own money and they viewed Roman currency as an abomination to the Lord, as also mentioned in the New Testament account of Jesus and the Money Changers
when Jerusalem was packed with Jews who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims
[Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. ''The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus.'' HarperSanFrancisco. 1998.]
Guides that provided tours of the premises were also available. Jewish males had the unique opportunity to be shown inside the temple itself.
, in their white linen robes and tubular hats, were everywhere, directing pilgrims and advising them on what kinds of sacrifices were to be performed.
Behind them, as they entered the Court of the Gentiles from the south through the Huldah Gates
, was the Royal Porch, which contained a marketplace, administrative quarters, and a synagogue. On the upper floors, the great Jewish sages
held court, priests and Levites
performed various chores, and from there, tourists were able to observe the events.
The Royal Porch 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 first century BCE, while the theory that Herod began the extension and the Royal Porch is based mainly on Josephus's possibly politically motivated claim. During Herod's reign the porch was not yet open to the public.
To the east of the court was Solomon's Porch
, and to the north, the ''soreg'', the "middle wall of separation", a stone wall described as being 3 cubits high by Josephus (Wars 5.5.2 b
6.2.4), separated the Court of the Gentiles from the inner courts where only Jews could enter.
The accounts of the temptation of Christ
in the gospels of Matthew
both suggest that the Second Temple had one or more 'pinnacle
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.
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.
Sanctuary ("the holy")
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.
Holy of Holies
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
currency for Jewish
and Tyrian money
, the latter two considered religious.
[Sanders, E. P. ''The Historical Figure of Jesus''. Penguin, 1993.] [Ehrman, Bart D.. Jesus, Interrupted, HarperCollins, 2009. ]
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 legion
s under Titus
retook and destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The Arch of Titus
, in Rome
and built 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 sects of Judaism that had their base in the Temple dwindled in importance, including the priesthood
and the Sadducees
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.
Temple warning inscriptions
In 1871, a hewn stone measuring 60 × 90 cm. 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 iolating
will be held accountable for his ensuing death." Today, the stone is preserved in Istanbul's Museum of Antiquities.
[Ancient Temple Mount ‘warning’ stone is ‘closest thing we have to the Temple’]
In 1935 a fragment of another similar Temple warning inscription was found.
Place of trumpeting
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.
Walls and gates of the Temple complex
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 which 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. [
Inside the walls, the platform was supported by a series of vaulted archways, now called Solomon's Stables, which still exist. Their current renovation by the ''Waqf'' is extremely controversial.
On September 25, 2007, Yuval Baruch, archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a quarry compound which 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. 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.
Floor tiling from courts
More recent findings from the Temple Mount Sifting Project include floor tiling from the Second Temple period.
Magdala stone interpretation
The Magdala stone is thought to be a representation of the Second Temple carved before its destruction in the year 70.
File:Magdala Stone (4).jpg|Magdala Stone
File:Barkokhba-silver-tetradrachm.jpg|Bar Kokhba tetradracm showing the Jerusalem Temple façade 132–135 CE
File:Rom, Titusbogen, Triumphzug 3.jpg|Arch of Titus showing spoils of Jerusalem Temple
File:Ancient Jerusalem, A remnant of the temple walls.jpg|Part of the south-western upper corner of Herod's temple colonnade with ancient "Trumpeting Place" Hebrew inscription.
File:Jerusalem Temple Warning Inscription.jpg|The Warning Inscription found in 1871
File:XV04 - Roma, Museo civiltà romana - Lapide del Tempio - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto 12-Apr-2008.jpg|A copy of the temple warning inscription found in 1871
File:Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology WingDSCN5007.JPG|Fragment of Second Temple Warning
File:To the trumpeting place.jpg|The Trumpeting Place inscription, a stone (2.43 × 1 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.
Second Temple Judaism
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.
* Archaeological remnants of the Jerusalem Temple
* Herodian architecture
* Jerusalem stone
* List of artifacts significant to the Bible
* List of megalithic sites
* Replicas of the Jewish Temple
* Temple of Peace, Rome
* Temple in Jerusalem
* Timeline of Jewish history
*Grabbe, Lester. 2008. ''A History of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period''. 2 vols. New York: T&T Clark.
*Nickelsburg, George. 2005. ''Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction''. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress.
*Schiffman, Lawrence, ed. 1998. ''Texts and Traditions: A Source Reader for the Study of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism''. Hoboken, NJ: KTAV.
*Stone, Michael, ed. 1984. ''The Literature of the Jewish People in the Period of the Second Temple and the Talmud''. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Second Temple and Talmudic Era
The Jewish History Resource Center, Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
''Jewish Encyclopedia'': Temple of Herod
''Jewish Encyclopedia'': Temple, The Second
4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism
Second Temple of Jerusalem
nbsp;(renders album of 3d model) / Zonerama photo gallery
The Southern & Western walls in Jerusalem – The Temple Mount
The Temple Mount photos including sites below the Mount itself, off limits to any non-Muslims
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