What challenges did Herod face in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem?
Originally, Solomon erected Jerusalem’s temple on a hill and had retaining walls built on the east and west sides of the hill in order to create level terraces around the sacred structure. Herod wanted a temple more magnificent than Solomon’s, so he set about remodeling and enlarging the existing one.
Herod’s engineers enlarged the flat area north of the temple in order to expand the terraces there. Toward the south, the platform was extended 105 feet (32 m). To accomplish this, a series of stonework vaults and a thick retaining wall were constructed. At some points, this wall stood 165 feet (50 m) high.
Herod tried not to offend Jewish sensibilities or disrupt the temple’s services and sacrifices. Jewish historian Josephus says that Herod even trained Jewish priests as stonemasons and carpenters so that no unauthorized worker would enter the holy areas.
Herod did not live to complete the project. By 30 C.E., the rebuilding had been under way for 46 years. (John 2:20) The work was completed by Herod’s great-grandson, Agrippa II, in the middle of the first century C.E.
Why did the people of Malta think that the apostle Paul was a murderer?
Some of the people of Malta may have been influenced by concepts of Greek religion. Consider what occurred after Paul’s shipwreck on Malta, as reported in the book of Acts. When the apostle laid a bundle of sticks on the fire that had been lit to keep his shipwrecked traveling companions warm, a viper attached itself to his hand. At that, the islanders said: “Surely this man is a murderer, and although he made it to safety from the sea, Justice did not permit him to keep on living.”
The Greek term for “Justice” here is “di’ke.” The word can mean justice in an abstract sense. In Greek mythology, however, Dike was the name of the goddess of justice. It was thought that she oversaw human affairs and reported undisclosed injustices to Zeus, so that the guilty would be punished. Thus, according to one source, the residents of Malta may have been thinking: “Though Paul has escaped the sea, he is a marked man who is now overtaken by the goddess Dike . . . through the viper.” The people changed their minds when it became clear that Paul was unharmed.