More than four
hundred years passed between the latest stories of the Old
Testament and the stories of the New Testament. During those years
there were many changes.
Although God let
the Jews return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem, they did
not become a separate kingdom at once. Instead, they were subjects
of the king of first one country and then another.
Once during those
years, the Jews freed themselves and chose one of their own people
to rule over them. This man was not a descendant of David, but the
son of a priest. After his death his sons ruled until the Roman
army conquered the little Jewish nation. From that time on the
Jews were ruled by the Romans.
capital of the Roman government was so far from Judah, the Roman
emperor sent Herod to be king of the Jews. Herod made Jerusalem
his home and governed the Jews in a way that pleased the Romans.
He did not care what the Jews thought of his rule.
years as king, Herod found out he had many enemies among the Jews.
Because he wanted to make friends with them, he planned to rebuild
their temple. Several hundred years had passed since Zerubbabel
had built it. Herod had that old temple torn down, and in its
place he put up a white marble building. Parts of it were covered
with silver and gold.
It took several
years to finish the new temple. During that time, Herod hired more
than ten thousand men to do the work. The great temple could be
seen towering above all the other buildings of Jerusalem. It
reflected the dazzling glory of the morning sunlight.
This new temple
pleased the Jews greatly and they were proud of it. In this temple
the priest, descendants of Aaron, offered sacrifices to God each
morning and evening just as God had commanded Moses on Mount