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Byron Stinson (pictured) has been credited with having brought the heifers to Jerusalem. Stinson has previously said that he believes every Christian should support the building of the Temple.Our Jewish Roots / YouTube

(LifeSiteNews) — In September 2022, “five perfectly red heifers” – cows that have not yet borne calves – arrived in Israel.  

This was so controversial, that it quickly prompted Hamas outlets to respond, calling it an attempt to “Judaize the holy mosques” and claiming that “Al Aqsa [the mosque on Temple Mount] is in danger.”[1] 

Soon after, Hamas launched its October 7 attack – named “Operation Al Aqsa Flood” after the Mosque. Hamas’ Abu Obeida actually cited these heifers as a reason for the attack, calling their arrival an act of “aggression against the feelings of an entire nation in the heart of its Arab identity” – as well as serious disrespect of Mohammed.[2] 

This was denied by Rabbi Azariah Ariel, head of the Temple Institute’s Red Heifer Project, who said: “Hamas does not need reasons to kill Jews; It only needs excuses.”[3]

But how could anyone interpret, even if insincerely, the arrival of five red cows as an act of aggression?  

The answer lies in the role many believe these cows will play in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. 

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Red heifers and ritual purity 

The red heifer is mentioned in Numbers 19, which explains that the heifer is to be killed and burnt, and its ashes to be mixed with water. This mixture is the means of removing the ritual impurity incurred from contact with the dead.  

This purification was key for the Jewish priesthood and the sacrificial cult. The Jerusalem Post writes: 

In the modern day, all Jews, including kohanim [priests, or the descendants of the priests], are assumed to be impure with the impurity imparted by a corpse.  

While in everyday life in the modern day this status does not have much of a practical effect, those impure with this type of impurity are prohibited from entering the Temple.[4]

Israel365News states: 

[L]acking a red heifer has left all of Israel ritually impure and unable to properly perform many other commandments.[5] 

This is a problem, because the ceremony has to be completed by a priest who is himself ritually pure. Rabbi Azaria (or Azariah) Ariel, the research director of the Temple Institute explains:  

He has to be pure in order to perform the ritual and prepare the ashes. For example, he cannot be born in a hospital. We have a few priests like that. 

We’re looking for priests who have been careful in this matter of meaning distanced from dead bodies from cemeteries and from hospitals. They have to have a clear family tradition that they are descended from priests. There are actually many, many men like this. He also has to be at an age where he can slaughter the cow at least 15 years old and he hasn’t been in a hospital until that time.

However, Ariel also stated that, in the meantime, it is still possible to enter the Temple Mount and even offer certain sacrifices in a state of ritual impurity.[6] The Daily Wire’s Kassy Akiva also claimed in an X post:

The ashes are used to make a mixture that is used in the purification process for entering the inner courtyard of the Temple Mount.  

Practical uses today would allow police officers to purify themselves before they enter that area for security reasons instead of being forced to enter that area to enforce security without purification first.  

While that is allowed by the letter of Jewish law, all agree that it would be better to purify themselves before entry.

Ariel further claimed in Israel365News that this ceremony “does not activate the requirement to build the Third Temple,” and “building the temple does not depend on the Red Heifers.”[7]

He also stated that “We do not do the ritual of the red heifer so that the Messiah will come so that God will do something like this or like that.”   

However, this does not seem to be completely transparent.  

Stated Temple intentions 

The same Israel365News article states that “reinstating the Temple service in its entirety is dependent on the return of the red heifer ritual.”[8]

In addition, those involved have explicitly stated their understanding that their Red Heifer project is linked with the rebuilding of the Temple.   

The heifers were brought by the Boneh Israel (“Building Israel”) organization made up of Jews and Christians. The heifers were found and raised by Byron Stinson, a “Judeo-Christian” and advisor for the organization.[9] A video on the Boneh Israel website calls him “literally the guy that has brought those Red Heifers to Israel.”[10]

The same website states: 

These Red Heifers can bring world peace! The bible teaches us, that the key for building the Third Temple (the House of Prayer for All the Nations) is purifying us with the red heifer in Jerusalem.[11]

Stinson has also made clear that he understands the heifer ceremony to be a first and necessary step for rebuilding the Temple, and even links it to the emergence of a one-world government:  

The rabbis are so excited because, like us scattered in the Nations, everyone can feel the approach of a one-world government. You can feel the approach of this time that something has to change.  

And everyone feels it, and what they desperately are looking for is for the Messiah to come.  

They know that this is the first step to be able to build the temple. You can’t purify the people that are going to work on the temple until you actually have this purification water that comes from the ash from the red heifers.[12] 

Stinson has also stated: 

I believe the response of every Christian should be to support the building of the Temple.[13] 

The Jerusalem Post also stated that back in September, the Heifers were ceremonially met at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport by several rabbis from the Temple Institute, including Rabbi Azaria Ariel himself and Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry Director General Netanel Isaac.[14] 

The Temple Institute was founded by Ariel’s father (Rabbi Yisrael Ariel) and Rabbi Azaria Ariel leads its Research Department. The Institute’s own website says that while some Temple ceremonies are possible in a state of ritual impurity, the red heifer is necessary for full restoration: 

The complete renewing of all aspects of the Holy Temple service, and the revival of complete ritual purity among Jews, is contingent upon the preparation of the red heifer. […]  

The preparation of the red heifer is a precondition for the reinstitution of the complete service in the Holy Temple.[15] 

Messianic significance attributed 

The website also reports favorably the teaching on this matter of the enormously influential twelfth century Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (“Maimonides” or “Rambam”). He linked the bringing of the next red heifer with the coming of the Messiah (the “Mashiach” or “Moshiach”): 

Nine red heifers were offered from the time that they were commanded to fulfill this mitzvah until the time when the Temple was destroyed a second time.  

The first was brought by Moses our teacher. The second was brought by Ezra. Seven others were offered until the destruction of the Second Temple.  

And the tenth will be brought by the king Mashiach; may he speedily be revealed. Amen, so may it be G‑d’s will.[16] 

Maimonides also states that a key feat of this supposed Messiah, and indeed one of the conclusive proofs of his claim, is that he will rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.[17] 

Therefore, it seems hard to deny that there is a link between the bringing of the Red Heifers and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple – as well as the coming of the supposed Messiah to be accepted by the Jewish people.  

Al-Aqsa Mosque  

A significant obstacle to rebuilding the Temple is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located on Temple Mount.   

It has long been a site of controversy between Muslims and Jews, as only Muslims are permitted to pray on the site.   

This controversy had been boiling up in the build-up to October 7, in that Israeli settlers and “ultra-nationalist Jewish groups” had been forcing their way past Al-Aqsa’s security and trying to perform what authorities called religious “Talmudic Rituals.”[18]

It is held that Mohammed was carried to the site of the ruined Jerusalem Temple on a magical horse; and that he tethered his horse to the Western Wall and from there ascended to heaven and met the various prophets. 

As a result, this mosque is regarded as the third holiest site for Muslims.  

Although Rabbi Ariel stated that “Hamas does not need reasons to kill Jews,” it remains true that Abu Obeida called the October 7 attack “the Al Aqsa flood.”[19]  

It seems impossible to see how the Islamic world could tolerate the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the rebuilding of a Jewish Temple. The results could radically surpass October 7‘s Al Aqsa Flood. 

But this is not stopping those behind the Red Heifer project. Perhaps their confidence is rooted in the ideas expressed by Maimonides, who states that the Moshiach will also be identified as one who “fights the wars of God” and succeeds in doing so – and that his reign will commence with a great war between the two powers of Gog and Magog.[20]


There is no consensus amongst Catholic theologians as to whether the Temple will ever actually be rebuilt, and previous attempts have failed.[21]

However, if it is rebuilt, there would seem to be a link between this rebuilding and the appearance of a supposed Jewish Messiah. 

Many Catholic theologians and fathers believe that the Antichrist will be such a man.[22] There have been many false messiahs acclaimed by some representatives of the Jewish people, including Bar Kokhba and even Napoléon. However, the theologian Suarez wrote in his work on the Antichrist: 

There is one whom the Jews expect and one whom they will all welcome. The others who pretended to be the Messiah were not received by all the Jews, but only by a certain few.[23] 

It would seem likely that, if the Temple were to be rebuilt, and as a result a particular man were to be acclaimed as the Messiah, then such a man may well be the prophesied Antichrist.  

Even aside from this, such an act will be taken as a further provocation by elements in the Islamic world, and may well be cited as a reason (or excuse) for further violence. 

Matters continue apace. The Temple Institute have claimed to have found a Kohen (priest) fit to perform the ceremony, which despite comments to the contrary, does seem to be as remarkable as finding the red heifers themselves.[24]

Editor’s note: This article was updated April 10, 2024.


2, 19
3, 5, 6, 7, 8
4, 14
16 Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Sefer tahaah, Parah Adumah 3.4. Available at: 
17 Consider the following: In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. Then, in his days, the observance of all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah.” Further: If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvot as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David, his ancestor, will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of God, we may, with assurance, consider him Mashiach. If he succeeds in the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Mashiach.” 11.4 Maimonides, Sefer Shoftim (The Book of Judges), Melachim uMilchamot (The Laws of Kings and their Wars) 11.1, 4. Available at:
20 He writes: “The simple interpretation of the prophets’ words appear to imply that the war of Gog and Magog will take place at the beginning of the Messianic age.” Maimonides ibid., 12.2
21 St. Paul states that the Antichrist will sit “in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God” (2 Thess. 2.4), but theologians do not agree as to whether this applies to a rebuilt Jerusalem Temple, a Catholic Church, or something else.
22 Fr Denis Fahey says that “it is the common opinion of the Fathers of the Church” and cites Ss. Jerome, Ambrose, Gregory the Great, Ephraim and John Chrysostom. Fr Denis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and The Conversion of the Jewish Nation, The Christian Book Club of America, Palmdale CA, 1993, p 184.
23 De Antichristo, Disp. 54, Sect. 1, n. 7. Quoted in Fahey, p 185.