from the book Encylcopedia of Freemasonry & its Kindred Sciences
by Albert C. Mackey M. D.
This book is in the public domain.
Temples, The Jerusalem - 1. Solomon began the building of his Temple about 967 B.C., and completed it in about six and one-half years. This was in reality a collection of buildings, inside a wall, and the Temple proper was probably at or near the center, a structure 90 to 100 feet long, about 30 to 35 feet in width and at its highest about 50 feet. The entire system of buildings, taken as a unit, was the greatest single building feat ever undertaken by the Jewish people before or since. This was the First Temple.
For nearly five centuries it was the center and capital of Hebrew peoples, not only in Palestine but wherever they might live. It and the city were looted and w destroyed by the Babylonian hordes under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B-C- (It may be more than a coincidence that the only successful—though temporary— attempt ever made by the Egyptians to achieve monotheism occurred while this First Temple was still standing It is likewise interesting to note that many of the tales, traditions, legends, and historical occurrences about Solomon or his Temple need not refer to so early a date as 967 B.C. but may refer to it as of any date as between 967 B-C. and 586 B.C.)
2. When after a half century Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem they began almost at once to rebuild the Temple under their "prince," or leader, Sheshbazzar, who began work in 536 B.C. it was completed by Zerubbabel in 516 B.C. after twenty years of slow, hard labor by a poverty-stricken people, and then was only half restored. After 168 B.C. this building was looted, attacked, razed, rebuilt, and finally destroyed almost completely. This was the Second Temple.
3. One of the looters was Herod. In 40 B.C. Antony and Octavius gave him the title "King of Judea." Between 20 B.C. and 19 B.C., and for political reasons of his own, he began to rebuild the Temple, and on a larger scale. It was not completed until between 62 A.D. and 64 A.D. Only two years after this latter date the Jews began their revolt against Roman rule; in about four years, or 70 A.D., the whole "Temple was burnt to the ground and utterly destroyed.?' This was the Third Temple.
(Historians long were skeptical about the descriptions of the three Temples on the ground that structures of such size and elaborateness called for a technical knowledge which did not exist in ancient times. Modern archeological discoveries have removed that objection by proving that as early as 1000 B.C. many of the technical arts were at a high stage of development. Thus, and to cite only two examples, Tutankhamen's physicians had the use of complete sets of surgical instruments, and practiced many forms of anesthesia; shorthand, a technique without which modern business could hardly function, was known to ancient Egypt; in 1934 the Egypt Exploration Society published a book Greek Shorthand Manuals compiled from papyri and waxed tablets unearthed by archeologic excavations.)