In addition to a daily log of places and events on my tour of Israel, I thought I’d also include a few (maybe one per day at the end of the day) interesting facts that I’ve learned about the holy lands in Biblical times.
Today’s fact is about the two temple eras. I knew there were two temples in Jerusalem, but I didn’t know the details until today. Solomon’s temple was built in about 1600 BC. King David wanted to build a temple for God, but God instructed him in 2 Samuel 7 that Solomon his son would succeed him as King and build the temple instead of David, because David had too much blood on his hands.
In 605 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem, carrying many of its men, women and children off to Babylon. Parenthetically, this is how Daniel ended up in Babylon. He also set up a Babylonian governor over the Jews, who of course rebelled. Nebuchadnezzar therefore returned for a second siege in 597 BC. Finally, after another rebellion, the Babylonians finished the job, and burned the temple to the ground in 587 BC (see 2 Kings 25). This ended the first temple period.
Seventy (70) years later, the Jews returned from captivity, and under Ezra’s direction began to rebuild a much more modest 2nd temple, called the Zerubbabel temple. Construction started in 516 BC and took 20 years to complete (see Ezra 3-6). This began the second temple period.
Right about the time Jesus was born, Herod the Great dramatically expanded the temple, making it much more impressive. But the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, including the 2nd temple in 70 AD.
Today a Muslim mosque stands where the temple was believed to be. End times prophecies purport that the Jews must rebuild the temple on that site and re-initiate ritual sacrifices before Jesus returns.