In verse 1, by Israel’s calendar, the seventh month was Tishri (about September). It was the month of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26–32), and then came the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:33–43), celebrating the exodus. It was important to build the altar first, as it was the first thing done when the people first entered the land after the exodus (Deuteronomy 27:1-8); and it was built at the site of the old altar (verse 3), and they began sacrificing at once. In verse 7, they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and to the Sidonians and the Tyrians for the cedars of Lebanon to be brought.
The Temple project began in the second year (about 537 BC). The second month, in verse 8, was Ziv (1 Kings 6:1) and is in the spring. It was the same time of year that Solomon began construction of the original temple (2 Chronicles 3:2). In verses 10-11, the people shouted with joy at the laying of the foundation. But in verses 12-13, some of the very old remembered the first temple, and they did not believe that the new one would be as awesome and beautiful as the first (see Haggai 2:2-9). So the sounds of weeping and joy could not be distinguished from each other.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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