In the past, we brought you the exciting news that Israeli cattlemen were raising a herd of cattle they hoped would produce a red heifer; a red calf with no more than two black hairs on its entire body. The red heifer was specified by the Bible as required for the Jewish purification rituals. Rabbi Azariah Ariel explained to Breaking Israel News that the ashes of a red heifer are “necessary for us to engage in anything that is holy or sanctified. The highest level of impurity comes from contact with the dead and to purify this condition, the ashes of the red heifer are required.” In November of 2018, it was announced that a red calf had been born that met the initial criteria. Even more exciting, it was recently announced that another calf has been born that meets the initial qualifications. Rabbi Azariah Ariel told Breaking Israel News that there are currently two calves that may potentially be used in for the preparation of the ashes. They are currently being raised in an undisclosed location under special conditions.
Requirements of the Red Heifer
The physical requirements for a red heifer are simple yet precise; a red heifer two years of age with no more than two black hairs on its entire body. Rabbi Ariel explained “The animal must also be two years old. There can be no blemish, no holes in the ear. Until that point, it is considered a calf and not a cow. At that point, the cow can be slaughtered and prepared.” This has led to an intense effort to raise such an exceedingly rare animal. “We know that there have been nine red heifers throughout history, the first having been prepared in the times of Moses and Elazar, the son of Aaron,” Ariel explained. “A red heifer is a female cow that is red. In the language of the Bible, red is not exclusively what we know today as red. It also includes brown and other similar shades of red. This excludes black. All of the hairs on its body must be the same color.”
Relevant Scripture Passages
The Bible makes it clear that the red heifer played an important role in the worship of the Lord. The slaughtering of a red heifer was an essential ceremonial ritual in the Old Testament sacrificial system, as described in Numbers 19:1-10. The purpose of the red heifer sacrifice was to provide for the water of cleansing (Numbers 19:9), another term for purification from sin. After the red heifer was sacrificed, her blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle. The Bible also teaches there will be another Temple in Jerusalem in the future (Ezekiel 41-45) that will obviously be purified (requiring the red heifer) before the Antichrist desecrates the Temple during the tribulation period as Jesus foretold (Matthew 24:15). Importantly, the New Testament also equates the role of the red heifer as being a foreshadowing of the salvation provided by grace through faith in Jesus (Hebrews 9:13-14). Overall, many Jewish faithful believe this event is part of the process that would mark the coming of the Messiah and the final judgment. Yet the significance of the red heifer also relates to Christians who believe the completion of the third Temple is a symbol heralding the second coming of Jesus Christ. With such significant prophetic implications, we should keep this event in our prayers.