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Sunday, November 22, 2009

J. F. Rutherford and "Beth - Sarim"

"Beth-Sarim"

Opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses have occasionally made references (most of the details being incorrect) to J. F. Rutherford and "Beth - Sarim" in an attempt to discredit the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. A look at the context and actual records would be beneficial:

The 1975 Year Book tells us that

"Brother Rutherford had a severe case of pneumonia after his release from unjust imprisonment during 1918-1919 because of his faithfulness to Jehovah. Thereafter he had only one good lung. It was virtually impossible for him to remain in Brooklyn, New York, during the winter and still carry out his duties as the Society's president. In the 1920's he went to San Diego under a doctor's treatment. The climate there was exceptionally good and the doctor urged him to spend as much time as possible in San Diego. That is what Rutherford did ultimately.

"In time, a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for Brother Rutherford's use. It was not built at the expense of the Watch Tower Society. Concerning this property, the 1939 book Salvation stated: `At San Diego, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929, there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth-Sarim.'" - p. 194.

By November of 1941 Brother Rutherford's condition compelled him to return to Beth-Sarim for his final illness. He died there January 8, 1942.
However, the Salvation book (written by Brother Rutherford) quoted above goes on to say:

"The Hebrew words `Beth Sarim' mean `House of the Princes'; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today who fully believe God and Christ Jesus and in His kingdom, and who believe that the faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth. The title to Beth-Sarim is vested in the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in trust, to be used by the president of the Society and his assistants for the present, and thereafter to be for ever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes on the earth. .... and if and when the princes do return and some of them occupy the property, such will be a confirmation of the faith and hope that induced the building of Beth-Sarim." - p.311.

Apparently Brother Rutherford had earlier written that he expected the return of these princes in the year 1925. I don't have a copy of that, but I see no reason to doubt it. Note, however, that Beth-Sarim wasn't built until 1929.

Money had been contributed for the specific purpose of "constructing a house in San Diego for Brother Rutherford's use" during his illnesses. The money, of course, could not be legally (or morally) used for any other purpose.

It's not surprising that in his book Brother Rutherford didn't care to detail these conditions which would have necessarily put his physical illnesses on public display. His decision to also dedicate this ground and building to those princes whom he truly expected to soon return is certainly understandable.

The fact that the princes did not return as soon as he expected was obvious even before Beth-Sarim was even built and certainly does not make Brother Rutherford a False Prophet.


Related Article:

Beth-Sarim (1929 - 1947) (Pastor Russell)
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