In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple Solomon built and proceeded to deport the people of Judah to Babylon. The temple was rebuilt later, wich is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History around 530 BC.
According to the Bible, they stayed in captivity for seventy years until the rise of King Cyrus of Persia, who conquered the Neo-Babylonian empire. Cyrus allowed the exiles to return to Jerusalem from Babylon in 538 BC, and more than 40,000 people (Ezra 2:64) chose to go back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel. They brought with them gold and silver articles recovered from the Babylonian temple after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.
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The first thing they did was to rebuild the altar and offer sacrifices to the Lord after they had settled in Jerusalem. The construction of the second temple began in 520 BC, which was two years after they arrived in Jerusalem. Cedar logs from Lebanon were imported to build the temple, and the foundation was completed soon after. But some local residents opposed the building of the second temple, and they discouraged the former exiles from continuing with the construction. The construction work will not resume until the second year of the reign of King Darius (Ezra 4).
The people led by Zerubbabel and Jeshua resumed the construction of the temple after the encouragement of prophets Haggai and Zechariah. But the governor of Trans-Euphrates Tattenai banded together with some people to discourage them again. He schemed by sending a letter to the new Persian king Darius asking him to confirm an earlier decree by King Cyrus, which permitted the people of Judah to rebuild their temple.
Darius discovered a memorandum by Cyrus and told Tattenai to allow the people to continue the temple construction. Tattenai was also instructed to help the Jews and pay for the full construction cost. He followed Darius’ decree and the second temple was completed in 516 BC, which was the sixth year of Darius’ reign (Ezra 6). The temple was dedicated to the Lord and sacrifices were offered there once again. Ezra the scribe arrived in Jerusalem soon after the construction of the temple was completed.
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