|Alpha and Omega|
|Publication date||July 2, 2019|
Alpha and Omega is a novel by Harry Turtledove (Del Rey, July, 2019). It is a supernatural thriller about the End of Days that posits that the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam does indeed exist without question. An excerpt may be found at Penguin Random House.
The Reconstruction Alliance, a fundamentalist Jewish organization in Israel dedicated to reconstructing the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, were overjoyed to discover a pure red heifer in Arkansas of all places. They sent Yitzhak Avigad, along with his nephew Chaim, to confirm it was fully red without any white patches. He confirmed this, making the cow essential for ritual sacrifice so its ashes could purify the Third Temple site along with the construction workers and priests. Avigad made arrangements to ship the cow to Kibbutz Nair Tamid in Israel.
This news was picked up by Christian Fundamentalists who also became excited since the reconstruction of the Third Temple was a requirement for the Last Days and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Brandon Nesbitt of the Gabriela and Brandon television program also heard of this and managed to convince his producer Saul Buchbinder and his co-host Gabriela Sandoval to film a special on the Red Heifer in Israel.
At the same time Yoram Louvish, an Israeli archaeologist associated with the Reconstruction Alliance, conducted a secret and illicit dig in a tunnel at the base of Temple Mount. Eric Katz and Orly Binur spotted something unusual which turned out to be old stonework that dated from the Babylonian conquest. There was no way to dig through it without alerting the Waqf, the Palestinian organization controlling the Temple Mount site, so Louvish put the dig on hold.
However, after a terrorist dirty bomb attack on the main bus station in Tel Aviv, the Israeli government gave Louvish permission to breach the wall along with a heavy Israeli Defense Forces presence to protect the dig. The archaeologists worked carefully, chipping away at the mortar around one stone block until it could be removed. Looking inside, Louvish found the Ark of the Covenant. While remarkable in itself, what defied science was that it was floating several inches above the ground.
The Gabriela and Brandon personnel had arrived in Israel just before the dirty bomb attack. This made them the first American news organization on the scene so they broke the story to the U.S. audience. After the Ark was discovered and moved to the Shrine of the Book they filmed the transfer and the Ark at its new location. Gabriela Sandoval then managed to convince the reluctant Rabbi Shlomo Kupferman, the Minister of Religious Affairs to allow her to open the Ark and see what it contained live on television, but Brandon Nesbitt slipped her a roofie and took her place in the broadcast. As Rabbi Kupferman feared, when Nesbitt touched the Ark, he was struck dead.
The Reconstruction Alliance began the construction of the Third Temple with the active support of Rabbi Kupferman and the Israeli government. First they carefully disassembled the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque so the Arabs could rebuild them elsewhere. Part way through, the Iranians warned they considered it an act of war if the two holy places were not restored. When they were not, Iran launched three ballistic missiles. The Israelis had prepared their Patriot missile battery but, before any counter-missiles were launched, there was a flash on the radar screen and the Iranian missiles vanished. Simultaneously, the President of Iran, the Defense Minister and the Grand Ayatollah died. On the office wall of the president, the words Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin were written in ancient Aramaic script.
When the two Islamic buildings were removed, construction of the Third Temple began along with a causeway between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Rabbi Kupferman ruled that modern construction methods using concrete and heavy machinery could be used, except for the Holy of Holies which would be constructed by hand. As this went on, the Palestinians launched a heavy mortar attack. The shells that landed around the base of the Temple Mount destroyed a bulldozer and killed several people, and destroyed the masonry closing the Golden Gate. No shells hit the causeway and the one shell that landed on top of Temple Mount did not explode.
Finally, the day the red heifer would be sacrificed arrived. Rabbi Kupferman conducted the ceremony but even he didn't have the gall to wear the High Priest's robes. As Kupferman prepared to cut the heifer's throat, Katyushas screamed from the sky. As before, those that landed at the base of the Temple Mount exploded but those on top failed to do so. Kupferman continued the ceremony and lit the pyre to reduce the red heifer to ashes. At this point, the Messiah reveled himself by raising the dead in the cemeteries at the base of the Temple Mount and led them into Jerusalem by the Golden Gate, all according to prophecy.