JERUSALEM, Israel —It is quite a sight to see a group of cattle arriving at Israel’s busy Ben Gurion Airport.
A recent delivery of five red heifers from Texas to Israel is causing quite a stir. Talk is growing that their arrival is prophetic, and a prerequisite to the return of the Messiah.
Some rabbis believe the ashes of a red heifer are necessary for purifying priests to serve in a future Temple.
The heifers were discovered and brought to Israel with the help of the Boneh Israel – “Building Israel” – organization and its team leader, Byron Stinson.
Rabbis from the Temple Mount Institute in Jerusalem approached Stinson about the unique cattle.
“They said, ‘Byron, could you… in Texas find us a red heifer?’ And I wasn't expecting that that day and it was shocking to me to think about it. But I know a lot of ranchers and I know a little bit about cattle and being in Texas,” Stinson recalled. “I always say yes to these Jewish rabbis because they're my friends and I love them, and why not?”
This began an in-depth process of finding the rare heifer that meets key stipulations found in the Bible.
”So the criteria is make sure every hair is clearly, distinctly red all the way through. There's no playing around with it. You have to look at all of the hairs and you have to have a heifer that's all red,” Stinson explained. “On top of that criteria is the animal could never be used for work. And then the biggest one that almost disqualifies everyone is it can't have a blemish.”
These rules come from Chapter 19 in the book of Numbers. It says, “Now the lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: ‘speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him.’”
The ashes of the red heifer would be used to purify water from the Gihon spring in the City of David. Just a few ashes could purify thousands of gallons of water.
That water can then purify priests from any contact with a dead body so they can offer sacrifice in the temple. Stinson believes this could be a step toward the building of a Third Jewish Temple.
“So it’s the first step,” he explained. “Before you can actually start building on the temple, you have to go to a higher level of purity.”
Stinson and others say the rebuilding could be close at hand.
“As I read the Bible,” he says, “this rebuilding of the temple happens here at a time when the world's in need for it, and I think we’re at that time just as a person that's watching events in the world, that we really need to come back to our roots and back to our God. And so, yeah, I think we're very close to that time. I really do.”
The red heifer must also be two years old. The Texas cattle are just around a year old and could qualify in just over a year.
Stinson hopes that if no white or black hairs appear on the cattle, at least one of them could become the first qualified red heifer in 2000 years. “I think with five of them, we have a really good chance of that,” he said.
In the 12th century, the Jewish sage Maimonides said that throughout the first and second temple periods there were nine red heifers. He predicted the tenth would signal the appearance of the Messiah. That explains why many are excited about the arrival.
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