The Second Temple (בית המקדש, romanized: 'Beit HaMikdash' meaning 'Holy House') was the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem which stood between 516 BCE and 70 CE. During this time, it was the center of Jewish worship, which focused on the sacrifices known as the korbanot. Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was destroyed in 586 BCE when the Jews were exiled into Babylonian Captivity. Construction of a new temple was begun in 535; after a hiatus, work resumed ca. 521, with completion occurring in 516 and dedication in 515. As described in the Book of Ezra, rebuilding of the Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and ratified by Darius the Great. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Second Temple on August 4th 70 CE, ending the Great Jewish Revolt that began in 66 CE.
On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by contributing personally 1,000 golden darics, besides other gifts, the people poured their gifts into the sacred treasury with great enthusiasm (Ezra 2). First they erected and dedicated the altar of God on the exact spot where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old temple; and in the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing (befitting Psalms 116; 117; 118), the foundations of the second temple were laid. A wide interest was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with mingled feelings by the spectators ().
This second temple also differed from the first temple in that, while in the older temple there were numerous trees planted in the courts of the Lord, there were no trees in the second temple. The second temple also had for the first time a space, being a part of the outer court, provided for non-Jewish worshippers who were worshippers of God and subject only to those laws incumbent upon gentiles.
This temple was adorned with gold and it was the holiest site in Judaism.
The temple, when completed, was consecrated and the sacrificial observances known as the korbanot resumed, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people (Ezra 6:16), although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power. The Book of Haggai records a prediction (2:9) that the glory of the second temple would be greater than that of the first. This temple, during the different periods of its existence, is often regarded by believers as but one house, the one only house of God.
Other Christians read the prophecy quite differently. Some say that in Haggai 2:3, the "former glory" of the house refers to the temple that Solomon had built. Thus, since the former glory of the place identified as "this house" in verse 9 is not the glory of the second temple but of the first one, there is no reason to necessarily say that the latter glory of it is a reference to the glory of the second temple either, but that it could be referring to the glory of the third temple, the one that Ezekiel prophesied. As such, this prophecy is seen as referring to the future temple to be built during the Messianic Kingdom. This explanation is common among those who hold to the dispensationalist and other premillennial models, but those who hold to amillennialism and postmillennialism repudiate it.
Around 19 BCE, Herod the Great began a massive renovation and expansion of the Second Temple Complex. The Temple itself was torn down and a new one built in its place. The resulting structure is sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple, but it is still called the Second Temple because the sacrificial rituals continued unabated throughout the construction process.