The Second Return of Israel
Not all Jews returned to the land with Zerubavel, though. The majority decided to stay in the land of exile where they had established good businesses and social status. Let us notice again that the Babylonian exile was not oppressive to the Jews.
Zerubavel went back to Babylon to ask King Dareyavesh for permission to carry on the building of the Temple because the enemies of the Yehudim had made the construction of the Temple ceased. This was Dareyavesh king of Persia, who succeeded Ahashverosh, he was the son of Esther, as found in Midrash Leviticus Rabbah (13:4).
King Dareyavesh made a second decree concerning the building of the Temple which was a confirmation of King Koresh’s decree, as it is written in Ezr_6:1-12,
In the first year of King Koresh, King Koresh made a decree concerning the House of Elah at Yerushalayim, “Let the house be built in the place where they brought offerings, and its foundations strongly laid, its height sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits, three rows of heavy stones and one row of new timber. Let the expenses be paid from the sovereign’s house. “And let the gold and silver utensils of the House of Elah, which Nevukadnetstsar took from the Heikal which is in Yerushalayim and brought to Bavel, be returned and go to the Heikal which is in Yerushalayim, to its place, and deposit them in the House of Elah,” Now, Tattenai, governor beyond the River, and Shethar-Bozenai, and your companions the officials beyond the River, stay away from there. Leave the work of this House of Elah alone. Let the governor of the Yehudim and the elders of the Yehudim build this House of Elah on its place. And I make a decree as to what you should do for the elders of these Yehudim, for the building of this House of Elah: Let the exact expense be paid to these men from the sovereign’s resources, out of the taxes beyond the River, so that they are not stopped. And whatever they need – both young bulls and rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the Elah of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Yerushalayim – let it be given them day by day without fail, so that they bring pleasing offerings to the Elah of heaven, and pray for the life of the sovereign and his sons. And I make a decree that whoever changes this word, let a timber be pulled from his house, and let him be impaled, hanged on it. And let his house be made a dunghill because of this. And Elah, who has caused His Name to dwell there does overthrow any sovereign or people who put their hand to change, to destroy this House of Elah which is in Yerushalayim! I Dareyavesh make the decree – let it be done promptly.
And according to 1Es_4:43-48, 1Es_4:53-63, Dareyavesh was the king who issued the decree to build the Temple and Yerushalayim in the second year of his reign, in the month Nisan, which is the first month, and the second exile to return with Yoakim, grandson of Zerubavel (1Es_5:1-7, Mat_1:11-13) in year 3446, safely escorted by a thousand horsemen to Yerushalayim. As already stated, the account of Hagai the prophet according to which the command of Elohim to built the Temple (Hag_1:7-11) was issued in the second year of Dareyavesh on the first day of the sixth month, which was the new moon (Hag_1:1-2), and the construction began on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year, (Hag_1:14-15). In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, which is the seventh day of Sukkot, the word of YHVH came by Haggai the prophet conjointly with Zechariah the prophet (Ezr_5:1-2) to encourage Zerubavel the governor and Yehoshua the high priest to start building the House of YHVH (Hag_2:1-4).
Here is the place to say that the set-apart place is not necessarily deserted when the Temple is ruined. In Ezr_3:1-6 and 1Es_5:53 we see that on Yom Teruah, the first day of the seventh month, they began to offer burnt offerings to YHVH before having even built the foundation of the Temple itself which already presupposes the existence of an altar. The references to priests and sacrifices in Hag_2:11-13 go further to suggest that the service to YHVH was independent even from the existence of the Temple. For it was David, and not Shlomo, who built the first altar there (see 2Sa_24:18 and 1Ch_21:22). Therefore, the present author may suggest that this may be the case with the building of the Third Temple: an altar might be built before the coming of the Messiah who will build the Millennial Temple (see Part III of this study).
When the remnant of Israel returned from exile, they neglected to build the Temple and the punishment was a terrible drought. We read in Haggai:
When you looked for much, then see, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I would blow on it. Why?, declares Yehovah of hosts. Because of My House which lies in ruins, while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its fruit. And I called for a drought on the land, and on the mountains, and on the grain, and on the new wine, and on the oil, and on whatever the ground brings forth, and on man, and on livestock, and on all the labour of the hands. (Hag 1:9-11)
Then Zerubbavel and Yehoshua, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of their Elohim and they came and worked on the House of YHVH on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Dareyavesh (Hag_1:12-15).
However, the first stone of the Temple was not laid until the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month in the second year of Dareyavesh (Hag_2:15-18) in the second month of the second year of their coming to the House of Elohim (1Es_5:57, Ezr_3:8-12, Ezr_5:1-2). In the second year of Dareyavesh the land of Yehudah was still for the most part lying waste, Yerushalayim was still without walls, and exposed most defenselessly to all the insults of the opponents of the building of the Temple: the Samaritans. The House was completed on the third day of Adar (the 12th month) in 3450, which was the sixth year of Dareyavesh (Ezr_6:14-15) or on the twenty-third day as found in 1Es_7:4-5, according to the decree of Elohim, and according to the decrees of Koresh, Dareyavesh, and Artahshashta. Then the sons of the exile, did the dedication of the House. And they appointed the priests and the Levites to their divisions over the service and performed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, (Ezr_6:16-19).
Only under King Daryavesh did Zerubavel, the governor, and Yehoshua, son of the high priest Yehozadak, succeed in completing the Second Temple. The city remained almost empty; its walls were later breached and its gates were burned down by the locals who opposed the restoration of the Yehudim in the land.
Insert: As stated in Tractate Yoma (21b) the five items in the First Temple that were not in the Second Temple are: 1) the Golden Ark, 2) the Urim and Tummim, 3) the fire that descended from heaven, 4) the Shechinah, and 5) the Distinguished Breath (Set-apart Spirit).