The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World

Red Heifer
Red Angus Heifer

By COGwriter

Have you heard about the red heifer? Do you know what one is? Do you know why certain Jews and others are excited about a particular one?

Here is a definition of a heifer:

heif·er [hef-er] noun a young cow over one year old that has not produced a calf. ( accessed 06/28/14)

heif·er noun \ˈhe-fər\ : a young female cow; especially : one that has not had a calf ( accessed 06/28/14)

heifer noun [C] /ˈhef.ər/ US /-ɚ/ a young cow, especially one that has not yet given birth to a calf (= baby cow) ( accessed 06/28/14)

Some consider cows are heifers after about six months. Whether it is under or over a year, a 'red' heifer is a female cow that is reddish brown in color which has not produced a calf. They mainly look brown, but with some reddishness.

Certain Jews believe that God will provide a red heifer just before the Messiah will arise. Some farmers are even raising cattle in the hope of providing the red heifer certain Jews feel is needed. Essentially some feel this is for a type of re-sanctification of the priesthood. Without that "red heifer" and/or the related sanctification, the sacrifices the Bible says will be stopped (Daniel 9:27, 11:31) cannot be resumed according to certain Jews.

Thus, if the relevant Jews willing to sacrifice animals believe this is needed, the location of a ritualistically proper red heifer can be a major milestones in the sequence of end-time events.

A Red Heifer Has Been Found

A red heifer found in the USA has some in Israel concerned and two readers sent links to the following:


Institute reports required ‘red heifer’ being raised in U.S.

The Jerusalem-based Temple Institute has taken on the goal of rebuilding the Third Jewish Temple, regarded by Jews and Christians as a precursor to the coming of the Messiah.

The plan is guaranteed to provoke world conflict, since the Islamic Dome of the Rock now sits on the presumed Temple site…

The organization posted a video this month showing what appears to be a perfect red heifer that is being raised at an unidentified location in the United States.

“In truth, the fate of the entire world depends on the red heifer,” the institute says.

“For G-d has ordained that its ashes alone are the single missing ingredient for the reinstatement of biblical purity – and thereafter, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.”

The Temple Institute says purification with the red heifer “reminds us that man has the potential to rise above his transitory physical existence, with all its false sense of hopelessness and misery … the impurity of death.”

Finding a red heifer is like finding a needle in a hay stack. But early this week some overly industrious Jew managed to do just that in the United States of America.

This finding is all the more intriguing considering that on the coming Sabbath (Shabbat) Jews will read in the synagogues the Torah portion that begins with one of the mysterious commandment of the Red Heifer: “Tell the Israelites to procure for you a red heifer that is free from every blemish and defect and on which no yoke has ever been laid…” (Num. 19:2ff).

The Red Heifer is an extremely rare creature. According to Jewish tradition, during the two thousand years from the time this commandment was given until the destruction of the Second Temple in the first century AD, only nine red cows that met the biblical criteria were ever found.

For a cow to be a Red Heifer it has to be without blemish, one that was never put to work and completely reddish. Jewish law requires keeping the young cow under strict care until it reaches three years old. During this time, leaning on the cow, riding it even once or even putting a piece of cloth on its back disqualifies it from becoming a Red Heifer…

The discovery of a red calf that could potentially become a Red Heifer excites many Jews who believe that Moses prepared the first Red Heifer and Messiah will prepare the last one.

The possibility of finding a real Red Heifer prompted the Temple Institute to make the logistic preparations needed for bringing the American calf to Israel and to train priests that will perform this sacred and rare sacrificial ceremony.

At least in theory, this calf could help Jews sufficiently purify themselves to engage in real Temple activities. For now, however, believers will have to chew their nails for at least two and a half years before it will be known whether or not this import is the Red Heifer.

A Passover Sign form God?

April 5, 2015

A possible parah adumah, a full red heifer, is attracting attention across the Jewish world as the cow, located on a small farm outside of Lakewood, NJ, is getting set to reach its second birthday, Hamodia reported.

An extremely rare phenomenon, according to Jewish law, the cow would only become permissible for use after its second birthday, in which it will be fully inspected for any blemishes, included hairs that are not red.

A red heifer is necessary to make ash needed for the ritual purification process to carry out services in the Jewish Temple.

“Somebody from Brooklyn called and offered me one million dollars for her, but I told him that she’s not for sale. This is a gift from Hashem (God),” owner Herbert Celler told the newspaper. “When he asked what I’m going to do with her, I told him that I’m going to be the first in line when Moshaich (the Messiah) comes.”

According to Celler, the cow was born on April 2, 2013 during Passover. The farmer explained that he has been “extremely vigilant” in making sure that the cow does not engage in any work or sustaining any blemishes, which may disqualify the cow according to Jewish law.

The fate of the world does not depend on upon a red heifer being found, though at some point in time, at least one will apparently be pointed to as important. Perhaps the one that made the news in June 2014 and April 2015, perhaps another.

There is Already Opposition to the Idea of Animal Sacrifices

It should be pointed that many are opposed to animal sacrifices, and would oppose things such as sacrificing a red heifer.

In a book I wrote in 2009, I warned that the prophesied "starting of sacrifices in Israel might be perceived as the terrible crime" (2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect, p. 302) that the King of the North may point to as a reason to stop them as is taught in Daniel 11:31.

In late 2014, a court in India banned religious animal sacrifices as barbaric (see India court bans religious animal sacrifices: will this impact the Jews?).

Jewish group like The Temple Institute believe that the fate of the world depends on upon a red heifer being found and then sacrificed.  The Old Testament clearly teaches that those who follow it alone are to sacrifice animals (e.g. Exodus 12:1-7; Leviticus 16:15-16).  Although, the New Testament does away with this (Hebrews 9:9-12; 10:1-7), the Jews that do not accept that Jesus was the Christ (which is the vast majority of them), do not consider that the New Testament is scripture, hence their only religious text commands them to sacrifice animals.  And the Bible shows that this will happen again and will be stopped by the final King of the North:

27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)

31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (Daniel 11:31)

It is not just the Indian court decision that I believe that the King of the North will point to.  I believe that animal rights' groups will scream in protest against Israel once it allows animal sacrifices again.  I also believe that the Arab and Islamic world will protest such sacrifices.

Interestingly, notice the following Catholic writings:

Abbot Herman of Lehnin (died 1300) Towards the end of the world “Israel will commit a terrible crime for which it will suffer death.” (Culleton, R. Gerald.  The Prophets and Our Times. Nihil Obstat: L. Arvin.  Imprimatur: Philip G. Scher, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno, November 15, 1941.  Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 151)

Catholic priest and writer R. Gerald Culleton (20th century): After the birth of Anti-Christ and shortly before the rise of the Great Monarch, the false doctrines were to multiply …In the last days before Anti-Christ, there are to appear many anti-christs… Towards the end of the world the Jews are to commit some atrocious crime for which they will be greatly persecuted…the Great Monarch…This Lion Monarch… together with the Great Pope or Angelic Pastor, shall appear after socialism…(Culleton, pp. 25,27,28,50)

Perhaps “after socialism” may mean after communism falls, like it mainly did in the late 20th century.  True Church of God Christians with “Jewish practices,” who could be considered a type of “Anti-Christ” by Greco-Romans (see Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus? ), are to be greatly persecuted around the time of the Great Catholic “Lion” Monarch (see Persecutions by Church and State).  The “atrocious crime” could refer to the “crime” of pointing out that the modern Roman Catholics are not the faithful representatives of true apostolic Christianity and that their apparent Great Monarch represents not the solution, but the ten-horned beast of Revelation.  Or maybe it refers to the Jews re-instituting sacrifices.  Or perhaps a combination of factors.

Either way, the King of the North is prophesied to stop animal sacrifices.  He may very well state that he is stopping international 'crime' by causing animal sacrifices to cease.

The Bible Teaches About a Red Heifer

Here is what the Bible says about a red heifer:

1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 “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. 3 You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him; 4 and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting. 5 Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned. 6 And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer. 7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening. 8 And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening. 9 Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin. 10 And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them. (Numbers 19:1-10)

Jews have interpreted this to mean that another red heifer needs to be sacrificed for sacrifices to be resumed or for the Messiah to return.  While that is not directly stated above, it could be implied from that one is again needed.  And if those who want to sacrifice will not do so until they have a red heifer, then in that respect a red heifer is important. Certain Jews, like those of the Temple Institute, have added non-biblical requirements for the 'tenth red heifer' that while not biblically essential (and Jesus complainted that the Jews in His day did that as well as is recorded in Mark 7:9-13), may be humanly necessary for the Jews to accept a particular red heifer as rabbinically valid.

Some Jews believe that the Books of Daniel and Isaiah tell about a future red heifer, despite the fact that they do not specify one.  Notice the following passages that are sometimes cited starting with those in Daniel:

9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.

11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. (Daniel 12:9-12)

While certain Jews tie the purification in verse 10 to the removal of sacrifices in verse 11, the Bible does not tie this in with a red heifer.  Some Jews then tie in the following from Isaiah:

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

Some Jews tie the burning of scarlet in Numbers 9:6 to the above.  Yet, while sins can be as scarlet, the Bible is not saying that this is related to a red heifer.  It is a call from God to repent.  And Christians do this without a red heifer (Acts 2:38) as it is not possible that the blood of bulls or goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).  Jesus takes away sins (John 1:36).

Notice also the following:

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-15)

Christians do not need any heifer, but certain Jews who reject Jesus' sacrifice think that they do.

Jewish Teachings and Traditions

The Jews have various traditions about the red heifer.  In the Mishnah (Parah 3.5) it was claimed that “Moses prepared the first, Ezra prepared the second, and five were prepared after Ezra.”

So, supposedly there have been only nine proper prepared ones and the tenth one is what is needed.

The Living Church of God has taught:

Farmers are even raising cattle in the hope of providing the "red heifer" needed for the re-sanctification of the priesthood (Numbers 19:1–10). Without that sanctification, the sacrifices cannot be made—so those who are watching end-time prophetic events know that the slaughter of the red heifer is one of the first major milestones in this final sequence of end-time events. (Wakefied D. The Bright Line. Tomorrows World magazine, July-August 2009)

However, this is not quite the case. It might be that a red heifer will be sacrificed. However, not all Jews who believe in the need for a red heifer believe that it must be slaughtered before sacrifices can be resumed. They simply believe one is needed and that perhaps the Messiah will later sacrifice it. Those who expect that a red heifer must be sacrificed prior to the sacrifices of Daniel 9:27, 11:31 taking place may find that they are in error and will discount true biblical end time fulfillments.

Notice the following:

Before the Temple can be rebuilt and Temple worship can be resumed, a perfect red heifer must be found.

And now one has been discovered.

According to Orthodox Jewish authorities, a suitable red heifer cannot even have a single black hair.  So finding such a creature is not easy.  According to Jewish tradition, only nine such red heifers were found during the entire time when the first two temples were standing.  And if this current red heifer ever does any work or ever mates it will be disqualified.  The following comes from a Jewish source

The sages infer that the Red Heifer must be completely red—even two black hairs would render it invalid. And it must not have done any work in its lifetime—even having a yoke placed on its back or having mated would disqualify it.

Once a candidate was found, and there was need for more purifying ash water, the cow would be slaughtered and burned on a pyre, along with a cedar branch, hyssop sprig, and crimson wool. The ceremony took place on the Mount of Olives, opposite the Temple Mount.

All of this has huge implications for world events.

Traditionally, many Orthodox Jews have believed that the spotting of a red heifer would herald the coming of the Messiah.

And if this red heifer does indeed turn out to be a suitable candidate, one of the biggest obstacles to rebuilding the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem will have been removed. ( June 24, 2014)

Notice some of what the Temple Institute teaches about it:

But in truth, the fate of the entire world depends on the red heifer. For G-d has ordained that its ashes alone are the single missing ingredient for the reinstatement of Biblical purity – and thereafter, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple…

The Divine ordinance of the heifer, beyond the grasp of man’s frail intellect, with all the details of its preparation and ceremony, calls out to Israel and to all who seek to cling to the living word of the G-d of Israel: “Purify yourselves! Shake off your despair! Death is an illusion!” Thus it is written, “…but all of you who cling to the Lord your G-d…you are all alive today” (Deut. 4:4)…

G-d uses many devices to bring His children back to Him. …  the rabbis observed: “And if one should wonder, how could a man turn his life around, and come close to G-d on account of a heifer?! Do not wonder: For it is through the heifer that all of Israel becomes pure.

The Mishna teaches that up until the destruction of the Second Temple, ashes had been prepared from a total of only nine red heifers. The very first red heifer was processed by Moses himself – as the verse states, “… have them bring you a red heifer.” The second was done by the prophet Ezra in the days of the First Temple, and during the entire era of the Second Temple only seven more heifers were used for ashes. This was enough to provide for the nation’s needs for purification throughout all those years.

The names of all the High Priests who prepared those seven heifers during Second Temple times are recorded by the Mishna: Simon the Just and Yochanan each made two; El’yhoeini ben Hakof, Chanamel HaMitzri and Yishmael ben Pi’avi processed one heifer each. Thus, from the time that Moses received the commandment of the red heifer from the Holy One, blessed be He, until the destruction of the Second Temple, purifying ashes had been produced by the hands of these great leaders from a total of nine red heifers.

The Tenth Red Heifer Will be Prepared by the Messiah

In recounting this historical record in his commentary to the Mishna, the great Maimonides ends with the enigmatic statement: “… and the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God’s will.

With this amazing statement, Maimonides recounts an ancient tradition – that the tenth red heifer is associated with the Messianic era. Does this perhaps mean that the appearance of a red heifer in these waning end times is an indication, a forerunner of the appearance of the Messiah himself, who will officiate at its preparation?

If there has been no red heifer for the past 2,000 years, perhaps it is because the time was not right; Israel was far from being ready. But now… what could it mean for the times we live in, to have the means for purification so close at hand? With the words of Maimonides in mind, we cannot help but wonder and pray: If there are now red heifers… is ours the era that will need them?

Some believe that the tenth red heifer came prior to the destruction of the last temple.  Whether it did or not, the Bible simply does not mention ten red heifers.

Not the Abomination, and other Red Heifers have Been Claimed...

Some have wondered if the abomination of desolation Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:15 that Daniel taught spoke of is the sacrificing of the next agreed upon Jewish red heifer.  Let me simply state that no it is not.  That abomination has to do more with the final coming Beast of the Sea of Revelation 13 and not a sacrifice of the Jews.

Some Jews, like those affiliated with the Temple Institute, want to resume animal sacrifices and believe having a red heifer is a sign that the time is right.  An agreed upon red heifer may increase pressure on the nation of Israel to allow such sacrifices–though it may not happen until the deal of Daniel 9:27 is fulfilled (see also The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27).

Many evangelical prophecy watchers seem to believe that a third Jewish Temple needs to  be rebuilt in Jerusalem in the Temple Mount area near the Dome of the Rock for many end time prophecies to come to pass.

That belief is in error.  An employee of the Temple Institute told me personally that his group did not believe that they needed a rebuilt Jewish Temple to resume animal sacrifices.  He basically said is that all they need is an altar, which they have, and permission for the Israeli government, which they expect will happen some day.  Years earlier, a representative of the ‘reconstituted Sanhedrin’ emailed me and said the same thing (see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).

There have been a few claimed red heifers over the past decade or two, but supposedly they were not sufficiently blemish-free.  Notice the following:

The Temple Institute … thought to have identified two candidates, one in 1997 and another in 2002.[7] The Temple Institute had initially declared both kosher, but later found each to be unsuitable. During a March 2010 radio interview a Temple Institute representative claimed that there is now “definitely a kosher red heifer here in Israel.” (Red Heifer.  Wikipedia, viewed 06/27/14)

So, now apparently another is being watched.

It is my belief is that once there is permission to start regular sacrifices, that whichever red heifer  may be available then will be considered to be the right and acceptable one (if it was not so before hand).

Temple Not Required For Jewish Sacrifices

As far as a temple goes, it should also be noted that many doubt whether or not the claimed Temple Mount is truly the location of the last Jewish temple.  Furthermore, many of the stones from that temple were moved to the Western Hill in Jerusalem, commonly referred to as Mount Zion (see Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill).

Notice that the Bible shows that during the time of Ezra animal sacrifices in the Temple were made before the second Jewish Temple was built:

2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. 4 They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day. 5 Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the Lord. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. (Ezra 3:2-6)

So, while a red heifer may be required (or at least desired) for the Temple Institute to sacrifice, an actual rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount is not.

That being said, the Temple Mount area is a likely location for end time sacrifices to resume, especially considering that the Temple Institute insists that it is the correct location (which is truly debatable).

If Jews will not sacrifice until there is a red heifer, then looking out for one would seem to be a sign that ties in with end time prophecy. Since the Bible shows that the Jews will again have animal sacrifices (cf. Daniel 9:27; 11:31), the fact that The Temple Institute and others are taking note of another claimed red heifer shows that there is real interest in taking steps that will lead to the fulfillment of various end time prophecies.

The stopping of the animal sacrifices occurs just prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) and what is commonly considered to be the end of the world.

As Jesus said, “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:37).

Thiel B. The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World. COGwriter (c) 2014/2015 0406

Back to home page

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? Although people like Timothy LaHaye teach a third Jewish temple is required, who is ‘the temple of God” in the New Testament? Does the Bible require a rebuilt Jewish Temple?
Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle on Mt. Zion, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building? Might it contain stones from the Jerusalem Temple?
The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27 This prophecy could give up to 3 1/2 years advance notice of the coming Great Tribulation. Will most ignore or misunderstand its fulfillment? Here is a link to a related sermon video Daniel 9:27 and the Start of the Great Tribulation.
Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? After a 20 year negotiation, the Church of Rome has negotiated the right to have Catholic mass in the building known as the Cenacle. It is in the area where the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill once stood. This is believed to be the location of the earliest Christian church building. How does the Bible define the ‘temple of God’ in the New Testament? Could this be the area where the ‘man of sin’ will sit in the “temple of God’ that Bible prophecy discusses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? This is a YouTube video.
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a version in Mandarin: 主编: 谁是’大罪人’?Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People.