Contact Us

The Second Temple is Built

The Second Temple is Built


Before the destruction of the First Temple, Jeremiah had famously prophesized (Jeremiah 29:10), "For so said G‑d: For at the completion of seventy years of Babylon I will remember you, and I will fulfill My good word toward you, to restore you to this place."

And indeed, that is what happened. A little more than fifty years after the destruction of the First Temple, the Babylonians, who had destroyed the First Temple, were vanquished by the rising Persian Empire. The Persian king, Cyrus the Great, soon authorized the Jews to rebuild the Temple, but construction ground to a halt due to interference by the Samaritans. In 353 BCE, exactly seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews began building again—at first independently, but King Darius soon ratified their effort. The Second Temple was completed in 349 BCE. Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the community in Judea became vibrant and secure.

The Second Temple era spanned 420 years, ending with the Romans' destruction of the Holy Temple in 70 CE.1 For much of this period, Judea was under foreign domination. First the Jews were ruled by the Persians, and then, after the conquests of Alexander the Great, they were ruled by the Greeks. The Hasmonean revolt in 140 BCE brought about a period of Jewish monarchy. But the Hasmoneans did not rule for long.


There is some disagreement regarding the exact year in which the Second Holy Temple was destroyed. According to Rashi, it happened in 68 CE, while according to Tosafot, it was 69 CE. Josephus, a historian of the time, records the year as 70 CE. Some of this apparent disagreement can be attributed to different ways of counting the Jewish year: whether the five days before Adam's creation constitute Year 1 or Year 0.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Pasadena July 28, 2017

Destruction of the temples It is obvious from the explanation given by Rabbi Yahuda Shurpin, that the dates of the destruction of the temples is most likely determined by the old calendars which will create a discrepancy in the actual dates. Seeing that the dates were determined by piecing together history backwards from the Gregorian calendar, I can see why their are different accounts. The methods of recording facts and history were just being created and formed to reflect actual events. Very interesting Rabbi Shurpin. Thank you. Reply

Lawrence Iowa April 6, 2016

Correct Chronology Thanks to Simcha Bart for this link. I believe late Eugene Faulstich, Ruthven, Iowa, has done most complete Chronology of Tanakh.

It appears there is disagreement between Chabad, academic scholars, and regular people.

Gene believes first Temple destroyed 588 B.C. Scholars accept 587 B.C.

Cyrus the Great was grandson of Astyages/Darius the Mede/Ahasuerus and lived with him and Esther. Jehoiakin released 2 weeks after first Purim. Reply

James Hiney Los Angeles, Ca. via November 3, 2013

History I am a Christian, but I fully appreciate our Hebrew Heritage, and I find this informative good reading. May our Creator bless you, Jim Reply

Aaron Samuelson Rego Park, NY July 29, 2012

Jerusalem 3000 One thing that confuses me after reading the articles on the 1st and 2nd Holy Temples here and all associated comments is how it would have been possible for Jerusalem as the city of David to have celebrated its 3000th anniversary recently. If Solomon's commissioning of the Holy Temple was in 823 BCE, his father, David, would have had to have founded the city 160-170 years earlier. Rabbi Shurpin's comment sheds light on the problem with accurate dating, but I wonder if the Jerusalem 3000 celebration had rabbinical support. Reply

Maayan Burroughs WHITTIER, California July 24, 2012

Wow!!! Thank you so much Rabbi Shurpin! I learned something important tonight. I didn't know all that. Very interesting. Reply

Anonymous Apollo, PA July 23, 2012

Date inconsistency Thanks Rabbi Shurpin for all this information! I never knew all this, and it certainly is interesting! Reply

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin via July 23, 2012

The traditional Jewish dating system is based primarily on the traditional chronology given in the Bible as well as the Seder Olam, an authoritative work dating back to Talmudic times, and the Talmud itself. The Seder Olam is founded on an uninterrupted tradition and forms the basis for such halachic determinations as the dating of Shemittah.
Secular historians, however, have adopted a sharply divergent chronological system for this period. They date the destruction of the First Temple and the construction of the Second Temple 167 years earlier than does Seder Olam and all other traditional Jewish sources. Secular history identifies 538 BCE (3223) as the year Cyrus conquered the Babylonian Empire, while our tradition puts this event at 371 BCE (3390). As Scripture states clearly (Ezra 1:1ff and II Chronicles 23:22-3) it was in the first year of Cyrus' reign that the Jewish exiles were permitted to return to Jerusalem. Cyrus' reign began a year after he and Darius the Mede conquered Babylon (see Daniel 9:2 with Rashi, Megillah 12a, and Seder Olam ch. 28-29). 18 years after that the Second Temple was built (see Seder Olam ch. 30, Megillah 11b).
Another discrepancy involves the duration of Persian domination of the near East. In the Rabbinic tradition, Persian rule spanned the relatively brief period of 52 years, from 370-318 BCE (3391-3443), 34 of these years being after the construction of the Second Temple. Secular history assigns 208 years to Persia, from 538-330 BCE (3223-3431). According to this latter version, ten Persian kings reigned during those years, Jewish tradition, however, recognizes no more than four Persians as rulers of the entire known civilized world: Cyrus, Achashvairsoh, Darius, and possibly Cambyses.
This discrepancy has been noted by numerous Jewish scholars throughout the centuries who have insisted that the traditional chronology is incontrovertibly supported by Scripture. Various jewish scholars have offered explanations about these inconstancies, for example, Rabbi Don Isaac Abarbanel (in his comm.. to Daniel) suggests that some of the Persian kings mentioned in the ancient sources may have ruled Persia prior to its conquest of Babylonia. The Talmudic reference to a 52-year Persian hegemony, however, refers only to the years when Persia ruled the former Babylonian Empire...."
It should be noted however, that contrary to what many think, the chronology used by modern historians is far from exact. It was not until the 20th century that the entire world recognized one universal calendar system -- the Christian calendar (also known as the Gregorian calendar). If we go back in time however, the calendar situation is far more chaotic. Accurate historical records were almost unheard of and every empire used its own calendar system which was often based on totally different criteria. With no unbroken historical traditional and no universally accepted standard for how to calculate time, there is no non-Jewish equivalent to Seder Olam Rabba nor for the Jewish calendrical calculation system passed down from antiquity. So how do we get the chronology that historians use today? Historians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries worked backward and pieced it together.
This was done primarily through comparing what little historical records survived from ancient Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt, together with archaeological finds and radio carbon dating. Because there are margins of error in all of these methods and much is open to interpretation, significant debates erupted between different scholars which continue to this day. Therefore, the chronologies used by modern historian can best be described as well-educated guesses.
Because our site is written from the traditional Jewish perspective, and because Jewish chronology makes a stronger case for historical accuracy, we use the traditional Jewish dates (some of the above is quoted from the appendix in the back of Artcroll Publication's "History of the Jewish People: The Second Temple Era") Reply

cody thompson Pennsylvania May 5, 2017
in response to Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin:

Hello Rabbi Shurpin:

I realize this is a rather late thread, but I was nosing around the web for info on the Seder and Ezra's death date.

I was told by a Christian pastor that Ezra actually died the same year as Alexander in 323 BCE. I was told this was referenced in the Seder Olam Rabbah 30. I have looked high and low and can not find this or verify it anywhere. All places I search claim Ezra lived at least 100 years earlier. One location said he lived 480 BC to 440 BC. I highly doubt this is correct. Can you verify or refute the 323 BC date or help me find this somewhere?. Thank so much. Reply

Maayan Burroughs WHITTIER, California July 22, 2012

I have a problem with the dates on this site.
In my history book written by a Jewish scholar in History, the temple was build between 521-516 me to understand please! thanks Reply

Anonymous Apollo, PA July 20, 2012

Date inconsistency . . is there no information as follow-up on this question from Anon in SC?? The 722 and 586 BCE dates are very well established as being accurate, making the 2nd Temple 656 years old when destroyed in 70CE. The difference here of about 236 years is quite substantial, more than 163 indicated above. Reply

Art Frailey Marion, IIllinois July 11, 2012

There was no 0 year. The creation would have started on day 1 and ended on day six, of the start of the first year.
There also was no 0 year between 1 BC an 1AD, as some advocate.
The Jewish calender counted straight on through. Reply

Anonymous Columbia, SC April 17, 2011

No. According to the article, the 2nd Temple was begun in 353 BCE, 70 years after the destruction of the First, which therefore would have been destroyed in 423, not 586 BCE. That is a discrpancy of 163 years from the dates I was taught as an undergrad. I am not saying what I was taught is correct, but there must be some evidence to support such a glaring margin of error. Reply

Aharon Hachoker April 11, 2011

Anon in SC Are you mixing up the fall of the First Temple with the fall of the Second Temple? There was a huge gap of time between the two. This article is about the Second Temple. Reply

Anonymous Columbia, SC April 9, 2011

Dating Events When I was taking religion classes in college (1970s) I read that the Northern Kingdom fell in 722 BCE and Judh in 586 BCE. What is the source of the considerably later dates on this site? Reply