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41. The Return of the Jews from Captivity in Babylon and the Construction of the Second Temple.


The Jews were in captivity in Babylon seventy years. The Persian King Cyrus, in the first year of his reign over Babylon, allowed the Jews to return from captivity to their fatherland and to build a Temple to the Lord in Jerusalem. Forty-two thousand Jews returned to their homeland. The Jews who remained in Babylon helped them with gold, silver and other necessities, and beyond that with rich donations to the Temple. The King returned the sacred vessels which were taken from the Temple of Solomon by Nebuchadnezzar.

Having returned to Jerusalem, the Jews first of all resumed sacrifices to the Lord God, and then, the next year, they laid the foundations for the new Temple. The Samaritans, having found out about it, expressed a desire to take part in the building of the Temple, but the Jews, in order to keep the services to God pure, refused them. After nineteen years the Temple was finished. The new Temple was not as rich and splendid as the Temple of Solomon. The old folk, remembering the splendor of the former Temple, wept over the fact that this second Temple was poorer and smaller than before.

But the Prophet Haggai, whom the Lord sent to the Jews, comforted them. He predicted that the glory of this latter Temple would be greater than that of the former because to this Temple would come the Desire of all nations, Christ the Saviour of the World (cf. Haggai 2:6-9).

The Prophet Zechariah foretold the triumphant entry of the Saviour into Jerusalem upon a colt, the foal of a donkey (cf. Zech. 9:9).

The Prophet Malachi prophesied that the advent of the Messiah was near and that before Him would be sent a Forerunner, that is a precursor like the Prophet Elijah, to prepare people to receive the Saviour (cf. Mal. 3:1, 4:5). Malachi was the last prophet of the Jews. After him for more than four hundred years, words of the prophets were not heard among the Hebrew people, until the appearance of the Forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist.

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