The Builders Of The Second Temple -- By: Walter R. Betteridge

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 053:210 (Apr 1896)
Article: The Builders Of The Second Temple
Author: Walter R. Betteridge


The Builders Of The Second Temple

Walter R. Betteridge

With the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the transportation of the elite of the nation, the doom of Israel seemed to be sealed. Humanly speaking, the hopes of Isaiah and of Ezekiel were apparently only the fancies of enthusiastic dreamers. The restoration of Judah was as little to be expected as the restoration of the ten northern tribes. But, in spite of these overwhelming improbabilities, such a restoration actually did take place, Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt, and a new Israel rose on the ruins of the old, differing in many respects from the old, it is true, but still its legitimate historical successor.

The history of this period confirms the opinion which would be naturally formed, that such a restoration must take place gradually, and could not be effected at one stroke. A century was required for its accomplishment. With regard to the course of events during this century, the records are for the most part silent, but the salient points are treated with unusual fullness. These salient points are, the rebuilding of the temple, and the establishment of its services; the building of the walls of Jerusalem; and the foundation of the Jewish church on the basis of the law of Moses. The second and third of these events stand close together in point of time, and connect themselves with the names of Nehemiah, Ezra, and probably the prophet Malachi, while the first occurred three-quarters of a century earlier, and is connected with the names of Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Haggai, and Zechariah.

It has always been supposed, on the basis of what seems to be the clear statements of the records, that the great majority of the new community were either returned exiles or the descendants of the returned exiles, though it is stated that they were reinforced by others of those who had never been carried into captivity.1 But recently Professor Kosters,2 the successor of the late Professor Kuenen at Leiden, in an elaborate monograph has attempted to prove that the generally received opinion is incorrect in holding that a large band of exiles returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in the reign of Cyrus, and that it was these returned exiles who began the work of restoration and reconstruction. Kosters maintains that there is no satisfactory evidence that any of the exiles returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in the reign of Cyrus; that the Jews still, remaining in Palestine, inspired by their prophets, began the work of rebuilding the temple in the second year of Darius, and brought it to a successful issue ...

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