Why is Herod's Temple also called the Second Temple and not the Third?

Have you ever wondered why it isn't called the 3rd Temple?  Solomon's Temple was the first Temple made of stone in Jerusalem. It was destroyed by the Babylonians. A second Temple was built after the 70 year exile, by Zerubbabel.  Herod completely tore down the old Temple and built a third Temple. Those are the facts of the matter, and yet the Jews refuse to call it the third Temple.

What is the real reason behind this? It is all about the Messiah. Ezekiel’s Temple was supposed to be the third Temple and the Messiah would enter through the East Gate as King. This would usher in peace on earth, fulfilling the old Prophesies.  This, of course, didn't happen.

There were different Jewish sects back then, just as there are today, but one government, which was the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. The Great Sanhedrin was made up of 70 men of high standing and the High Priest.  They were the judges and enforced the Law's of Moses, which included the Temple laws.

The Jewish people were expecting the Messiah, their King, to come soon,  but some believed that first Ezekiel's Temple would be built. The Third Temple. Herod built a magnificent Temple and increased the size of the Temple compound to the North, West and South. He did not expand it to the East because of the great expense involved, so Solomon's Porch and the East Gate, remained intact and the east wall was only made longer by extending Solomon's wall to the North and South.  Herod filled in the Tyropoeon Valley and built the Western court, there had never been a court on the West prior to this. Adding this court caused the Temple compound to become 600 feet east to west. He also extended the temple to the north and south making it a square of 600 x 600 ft, a Greek furlong/staid equaling 411.4285 cubits.  But Ezekiel's Temple was to be 500 x 500 cubits (amahs).  How could Herod's Temple be Ezekiel's Temple?  At the time Ezekiel had the vision they were still in exile in Babylon. The young Jews were taught the 3 different lengths for a cubit according to the Babylonians. For a building, the Babylonian cubit to be used was 14.4 inches.  Amazingly 14.4 x 500 = 7200' divided by a standard Jewish cubit of 17.5" = 411.4285 cubits, which is 600 feet.  I don't know about you, but to me this is just too big of a coincidence. It would allow some to say, during that time, that Herod's Temple was 500 x 500 cubits. And that claim made its way into the Mishna, via one Rabbi. Josephus also wrote that the Temples east wall, which he called Solomon's wall, was 400 cubits. A Greek cubit of 18 inches times 400 equals 600 feet.  He also wrote that the Temple, including Fort Antonia measured 6 furlongs around, meaning 600' x 1200' altogether. Can Josephus be wrong three times? I think not.

The time for the Messiah to come on the scene was upon them. It would be when the 3rd Temple was completed.

At the time when Jesus came on the scene the Sanhedrin were all very rich men, that wielded great power in Jerusalem. The High Priest, Caiaphas, was the richest, most powerful, ever known. He owned all the booths for selling lambs, goats, young bulls, doves, etc.
for sacrificing, and his children were in charge of those booths. The Temple had become a place of merchandise.

Even though Jesus had thousands of Jewish followers and had fulfilled the Messianic prophecies, even performing great miracles, and raising the dead, all Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin saw was a threat. Their lust for power and money was being threatened by this lowly man. He was no King! Can anything good come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)


Caiaphas declared Jesus a blasphemer, and the Sanhedrin agreed. Jesus was sent before Pilate and ultimatly He was crucified. Jesus had warned them that if they rejected Him their city and Temple would be laid even to the ground within a generation, which it was in 70 AD This was also prophesied by Daniel (Dan 9). 

So, no more Temple, and for the Jewish nation, and to them, no Messiah had come. They rejected Him as their Messiah. Therefore, Herod's Temple was not the promised third Temple, but merely an extension of the second Temple. Simple. And yet everyone who studies knows that Herod tore down the second Temple completely and built the third, because Josephus recorded it all in 70 AD.

Today there is still great confusion about a third Temple being built, not only for the Jews, but also the Christians. Many Jews believe the Temple must be built in this age before the Gog war. Others believe that the third Temple is Ezekiel's Temple, which they believe will be built after the Gog war, in a time of peace on earth, by the surviving Jews. This is a huge difference.  As for the larger majority of Christians, through a poor understanding of Daniel 9, the Olivet Discourse of Mat 24, Mark 12-13 and Luke 21 and 2 Thess. They believe that an antichrist will become the world leader and allow the Jews to build the 3rd Temple and 3 1/2 years later he will stand in the Temple and declare himself God. This will cause the Gog war for 3 1/2 years until Messiah Jesus returns. The Resurrection of the Dead in Christ and Rapture of the living believers is also believed to take place at three different times. There are Pre-tribbers, which means as soon as the antichrist appears on the scene the believers will be raptured and not have to go through the 7 years of tribulation. They believe Jesus could come at any minute.  The Mid-tribbers believe that as soon as the antichrist declares himself God, half way through the last 7 years, the believers will be raptured, and the Post-tribbers believe when Jesus returns at the end of the 7 years the dead will be raised and we, the living believers, are raptured, and we all meet Jesus in the air.  This misunderstanding of these scriptures is what causes the Christians to push for the Jews to hurry up and build a third Temple. Any type of Temple will do. Christian organizations help pay for archaeological digs for the purpose of proving where the old threshing floor is located so that the Jews can start building.

Will any of these groups ever agree? Not in this life. Scripture tells us that in the next age, which begins after the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the living believers, only then will Ezekiel's Temple (the first and only Temple built durng the thousand years, when Jesus rules) will be built by the surviving Jews. (see, Eze 39-47. Zac 12-14).





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