Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone

The Second Temple is Built

The Second Temple is Built

E-mail

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.

FOOTNOTES
1.

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 Chabad.org's copyright policy.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (11)
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
James Hiney
Los Angeles, Ca.
chabadps.com
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.
Aaron Samuelson
Rego Park, NY
July 24, 2012
Wow!!! Thank you so much Rabbi Shurpin! I learned something important tonight. I didn't know all that. Very interesting.
Maayan Burroughs
WHITTIER, California
July 23, 2012
Date inconsistency
Thanks Rabbi Shurpin for all this information! I never knew all this, and it certainly is interesting!
Anonymous
Apollo, PA
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")
Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin
mychabad.org
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 BCE...help me to understand please! thanks
Maayan Burroughs
WHITTIER, California
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.
Anonymous
Apollo, PA
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.
Art Frailey
Marion, IIllinois
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.
Anonymous
Columbia, SC
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.
Aharon Hachoker
Show all comments
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG