When you hear about the Second Temple of Jerusalem it refers to the Jewish temple which stood where the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock stands today. This elevated plateau in Jerusalem’s Old City is also known as Mount Moriah. The Second Temple followed the First Temple which was built under Solomon and later destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians.

After the destruction of the First Temple a Second Temple was constructed (515BC) and then renovated and rebuilt on the orders of King Herod once he came to power. Herod is known as the great builder, he was responsible for the construction of many prestigious structures in Israel and the Second Temple was no exception. Herod had an elaborate plan and he employed 10,000 workmen 1,000 carpenters and masons and 1,000 wagons to bring the large stones to the site.  We have all this precise information from the records of ancient historians like Tacitus and Josephus.

The construction of the Second Temple took many years to complete and was a masterpiece of architecture. The Second Temple consisted of four courts, one within the other with the inner court being the inner sanctuary or Holy of Holies and entrance to this sanctuary was restricted to the High Priest. The outer wall of the outer court was surrounded by high thick stone walls and it is part of this outer retaining wall which remains today and is known as the Wailing Wall. Further excavation has uncovered elements which are thought to have been part of the Second Temple. In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem you can see a scale model of the Second Temple.

The Second Temple fell in 70AD as a result of the Jewish Great Revolt in 66AD against the Roman rule. Jews revolted against the bad treatment they received under Roman rule, the excessive taxes, Roman disrespect of the Jewish faith and even the theft of silver from the temple. A group of Jewish zealots began the revolt which lead to a Roman siege on Jerusalem, when the Romans eventually captured the city they burnt the temple to the ground leaving only what we know today as the Wailing Wall. The destruction of the Second Temple is remembered by the Jewish fast day Tisha B’av.

The Second Temple is significant in the Christian faith as this is the temple Jesus would have known, it is the Jewish temple of Jerusalem referred to in the New Testament. This is the temple Jesus “cleansed” and the temple where he studied and preached.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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