We take a look at the Second Temple that was consecrated in 515 B.C.


 Saturday, 9/ 24/11

In the first reading Zachariah urged the people of Jerusalem to get busy erecting their temple. He promised them that if they went ahead building the temple, “Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica compared the campaigning of Haggai and Zachariah for getting the temple built to the programs of politicians for getting a giant football stadium built to draw money to our city.

With the enthusiasm stirred up by those two prophets, the people got the temple built in just five years, dedicating it in 515 B.C. 

The temple was not one huge building like St. Peter’s. It was a small building with two rooms. That small building was surrounded on three sides by the relatively small courtyard sacred to the priests. That courtyard was surround on three sides by the courtyard of Israel, and that courtyard was surrounded on three sides by the courtyard of the women. There the altar, a large barbecue pit, was constructed. That was surrounded by the Courtyard of the Gentiles where the animals for sacrifice were penned, then sold.

But, getting back to the small building, which was the only roofed structure. The inner room was known as the Holy of Holies. It had been the room where the Ark of the Covenant rested, but the Ark was destroyed or carried off by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. .Even without the Ark, that small room was sacred to God’s presence.

The other small room, heavily curtained off from the Holy of Holies, was called the Holy Place. A chosen priest entered it twice a day to burn incense to God. (That was where John the Baptist’s father Zechariah was met by the Angel Gabriel.)

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