536 B.C. - 515 B.C.
The temple was labeled by many theologians and Bible translators as the "Second" Temple. Scripture, however, describes it as "a reviving, a raising up, a restoring" of the House of God.
During the reign of three kings of Persia (Cyrus, Artaxerxes, Darius):
536 B.C. - Return of first exiles to Jerusalem from Babylon.
536 B.C. - Altar of Burnt offering constructed.
535 B.C. - Foundation of house laid.
520 B.C. - Work suspended for fifteen year, resumed.
516 B.C. - House completed and consecrated.
The Return of the First Exiles from Babylon
"Now these... came up out of the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city... Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah... The whole assembly numbered 42,360..."
Ezra 2:1, 2
Note: In the Scriptures describing the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple of Solomon, few workmen other than Moses and Solomon are mentioned. But in the rebuilding of God's House after the return from exile, there is a larger cast of referenced players whose spirits were stirred by God to help with the rebuilding.
First of all Cyrus, king of Persia. Then from among the people, Zerubbabel, the governor; Joshua, the high priest; Ezra, also a priest; Haggai and Zachariah, prophets of God.
Also included in the telling are the names of the enemies who opposed the work.
The tabernacle and Solomon's temple were constructed in relatively peaceful times as was Herod's renovation; Zerubbabel's reconstruction was accomplished in times of great opposition.
The Altar of the Burnt Offering Built
"Now when the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then Joshua... and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel... and his brothers arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offering on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. So they set up the altar on its foundation, terror was upon them because of the peoples of land; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord... morning and evening... From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, but the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians, to bring cedar wood from Lebanon to the sea at Joppa according to the permission they had from Cyrus."
The Foundation Completed
Construction Materials and Measurements (As Decreed by Cyrus)
"Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt and let its foundation be fixed (or laid) , its height being 90 feet and its width 90 feet; with three layers of huge stones, and one layer of new timber. And let the cost be paid from the royal treasury."
"Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem... (they) began the work... Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites... with cymbals, to praise the Lord according to the directions of King David... And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men had seen the first house wept..."
The Work on God's House Suspended for 15 Years
"Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' households, and said to them, 'Let us build with you, for we like you seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assyria who brought us up here.' But Zerubbabel and Joshua and the rest of the fathers' households of Israel said to them, 'You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God...' Then the people of the land weakened the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors again them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus... even to the reign of Darius...
Now in the reign of Xerxes, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem...
'...let it be known to the king, that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem; they are rebuilding the rebellious and the evil city... if that city is rebuilt they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll and will damage the revenue of the kings... And you will discover in the record books... that the city is a rebellious city damaging to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt within it in past days, therefore that city was laid waste.'"
Ezra 4:1-6, 12-15
"'...a search has been made and it has been discovered that that city has risen up against the kings in past days, that rebellion and revolt have been perpetrated in it, that mighty kings have been over Jerusalem... Make these men stop work, that the city may not be rebuilt until a decree is issued by me...'
As soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes' document was read they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by force of arms.
Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia."
Rebuilding began again in 520 B.C. under Darius.
"When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah... prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, then Zerubbabel... and Joshua... arose and began to rebuild the house of God... and the prophets of God were with them supporting them."
Ezra 5:1, 2
A New Challenge
"...Tettenai, the governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River... came to them and spoke to them, 'Who issued you a decree to rebuild this house and to finish this structure?' But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until a report should come to Darius, and a written reply be returned concerning it."
A Copy of the Letter
"Let it be known to the king, that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with huge stones, and timbers are being laid in the walls, and this work is going on with great care and is succeeding in their hands. Then we asked those elders... 'Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure...' And thus they answered us saying, 'We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar... who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild the house of God... And now, if it pleases the king, let a search be conducted... and let the king send to us his decision...'"
Darius' reply to Tattenai; Governor of the Province Beyond the River:
"...keep away from there... Leave this work on the house of God alone. Moreover... the full cost is to be paid to these people from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces beyond the River, and that without delay. And whatever is needed... for a burnt offering to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine, and anointing oil, as the priests in Jerusalem request, it is to be given to them daily without fail..."
"And the elders of the Jews were building and succeeding through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah... And they finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes. And this temple was completed... it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.
And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. And they offered for the dedication of the temple of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, corresponding to the number of tribes of Israel. Then they appointed the priests to their divisions and the Levites in their orders for the service of God in Jerusalem as it is written in the book of Moses. And the exiles observed the Passover on the 14th day of the first month... And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord has caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to strengthen them in the work of the house of God, the God Israel."
Ezra 6:14-20, 22
The Rebuilding Resumed Again Through the Prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah
"Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'This people says, The time has not come, the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.'
Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai... saying, 'Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? Now therefore... set your heart on your ways!... Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the house, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified...'
Then Zerubbabel... and Joshua... the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai, the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people showed fear before the Lord.
Then Haggai spoke by commission of the Lord to the people saying, '"I am with you," declares the Lord.'
So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel... and the spirit of Joshua... and the spirit of the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the 24th day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king."
Haggai 1:1-5, 7, 8, 12-15
"And this temple was completed... it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius."