In Jewish history, the era of the Second Temple lasted between 530 BC and 70 AD, during the presence of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. In this period Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots sects were formed. The Second Temple’s construction was completed under the rule of the last three Jewish Prophets named Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi with the approval and funding of Persian.
In 538 BC Zerubbabel was the leader of the tribe of Judah and was the first group of Jewish captives to return back to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2). Later on, Zerubbabel was appointed as the governor of Judah, and without any delay, he started to rebuild the temple which was destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:8-10) with the help of Joshua, the high priest (Ezra 3:2-3, 8). It took two years for Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple’s foundation. The construction delayed because of the Samaritan settlers who at first were kind and friendly and later showed their wicked demeanor (Ezra 4:1-5) As a result Persia refused to finance the project any further, leading to the temple being unfinished for 17 years.
Haggai a prophet sent by God to Zechariah to motivate and support Zerubbabel and work on the second temple began. It took four years for the temple to be completed. God was pleased with Zarubbabel’s efforts to which Haggai gave Zerubbabel a special blessing, “On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23).
During the process of the second temple being constructed a group of Jews was not happy with the construction. Jews who had seen the first temple mock Zerubbabel’s temple as a poor substitute for the original, since the original was big in size and grandeur. For them, it could not be compared with the First Temple which was built by Solomon. In fact, it was true that Zerubbabel’s temple was smaller in scale and with much fewer resources. Furthermore, only Solomon’s temple possessed the Ark of the Covenant which was no longer in Israel’s possession, and the first temple was lit by fire from heaven. Lastly, the first temple was filled with Shekinah, whereas the second temple did not face such miracle. On the other hand, Haggai stated that the Second Temple would one day outshine the First Temple. (Haggai 2:3-9). His prophecy was fulfilled 500 years later when Jesus Christ came (Luke 2:22, 46; 19:45). The Messiah Himself walked the courts of the Second Temple.