The Second Temple was the Jewish holy temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, 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), 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 from Babylon 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).
The Construction of the Second Jewish Temple
Construction of the Second Temple was completed under the leadership of the last three Jewish Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi with Persian approval and financing. Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel, arrangements were almost 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.