Beth-Sarim - House of Princes
This is one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of the Jehovahís Witnesses and one that the Watchtower wishes had never happened. From time to time the Watchtower is forced to make reference to Beth-Sarim and when it does so it does it in a very dishonest manner and quickly glosses over the real facts. In the Proclaimers of Godís Kingdom book p.76 the Watchtower makes only a light reference to the house and misleads its readers into believing that it was of little relevance and played no major part in their history. Whereas in reality is was a fundamental teaching that all witnesses and the secular world were aware of. What follows is a more in-depth analysis of the importance the Watchtower placed on Beth-Sarim
In the early twenties the Watchtower put forward the prophecy that the ancient worthies would be resurrected here on earth in 1925. The Watchtower were so sure about this date that they acquired a large property in California for their use. This property was named Beth-Sarim meaning house of princess, and was to be the home for, amongst others, Abraham, David, Isaac, Jacob, Samson and Moses. In the grounds of the mansion the Watchtower planted palm and olive trees so that the ancient worthies would feel at home. In addition if the worthies needed to get around San Diego they would have had the private use of 2 chauffeur driven Cadillacs.
The only person who ever took up residence in the mansion was Rutherford himself and as soon as he died in 1941 the Watchtower sold the property and dropped their teachings with regard 1925.
Below are some quotes from the secular press at the time. Note what a big thing Rutherford makes of the house and, in hind sight, what an absolute embarrassment he makes not only of himself but of Jehovahís organization the Watchtower.
Time Magazine of Mar 31, 1930 "Judge Joseph Frederick Rutherford 60, lives in a ten room Spanish mansion, No 4440 Braeburn Rd, San Diego, Calif. Last week he deeded No 4440 Braeburn Road, and adjacent two car garage and a pair of automobiles to King David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, Samuel and sundry other mighties of ancient Palestine. Positive is he that they are shortly to reappear on earth, Said he: 'I have purposely landscaped the place with palm and olive trees so that these princes of the universe will feel at home ..".
San Diego Sun, March 15, 1930 "But how will you identify King David or any of the other representatives from God?' Rutherford was asked. 'I thought all that out before I wrote the deed,' the judge replied with a twinkle in his gray eyes. 'I realized the possibility of some old codger turning up bright and early some morning and declaring he was David. The men whom I have designated to test the identity of these men are officers of my societies and have consecrated themselves to the Lord, they will be divinely authorized to know impostors from the real princes.'
The San Diego Sun of Jan 9 1931 "A gaunt unshaven tramp has been the lone claimant for the $75,000 Southern Californian mansion of David, king of Israel, since it was deeded to the Biblical character a year ago. This was revealed today by Judge James Rutherford, temporary owner of the luxuriantly furnished Spanish type mansion at 440 Braeburn Rd in the exclusive Kensington Heights district. In one of the oddest deeds ever recorded, Rutherford, president of the International Bible Students Association and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, has placed in trust the magnificent estate for ancient kings and prophets of Israel. The slayer of Goliath and his companions may occupy the 10 room modern home with it's landscaped gardens and patio as soon as their credentials are approved by Rutherford and officials of his societies, divinely authorized to recognize them.
One morning as I was going from the house to the garage, a queer looking creature approached me, tipped his dirty hat and cried 'Howdy Judge, I'm David' 'Go and tell that to the winds', I told him and he left without arguing the matter. I could see at a glance that he was not David. He didn't look like I knew David would look.' Asked how he expected David and his distinguished brethren to look, Rutherford, without hesitation, opened his huge Bible and pointed to a verse which said that the Princes of the Universe would be risen from the dead 'as perfect men'. 'I interpret that to mean', the tall dignified Judge declared, 'that David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, Joseph and Samuel will be sent here to wrench the world from Satan's grasp, clothed in modern garb as we are, and able, with little effort, to speak our tongue.' Rutherford pictured the arrival of the biblical delegation perhaps in frock coats, high hats, canes and spats.
At Beth Sarim (House of Princes) as Rutherford has named his mansion, David will find the most modern appliances that science has devised. When the distinguished guests walk up the circular stairway to the second floor, they will find a large office with red leather chairs and shiny flat topped desk with inverted lighting. Even French telephones await the touch of the princes. Opening a wide door, the native sons of Palestine will behold a large bathroom, resplendent in shiny black tile with needle shower and an amply filled medicine chest. What a thrill giant shouldered Samson, who wrecked a palace with his bare fists might find in the gold safety razor and strop! Rutherford built the second floor bedroom, which he temporarily occupies, large in order to accommodate several of the expected owners. With wide pane windows that look out on the purple Cuyamacas to the East and California's first mission to the north, the bedroom is almost severe in it's furnishings. The rulers of the universe will have simple tastes, the judge apparently believes, although the austere end tables sported gaily covered fiction magazines. Rutherford has imported some Koniach, Wasser from Cologne, Germany to freshen the princely faces after shaving. A black skull cap hangs over one of the bedposts.
The coming of David and his companions will be the greatest news story of the ages, Rutherford predicted. 'I am not a publicity seeker,' Rutherford said with a twinkle in his kindly brown eyes, 'but I feel that the world should know about their arrival. It will be a great news story.' Word of his 'House of king David' has reached into every corner of the world, the judge stated. 'Everywhere I went people asked me about this place,' Rutherford said. 'In Chicago a millionaire manufacturer offered to build another house for David, but I declined the offer. 'Literally thousands have driven here to see this place,' Rutherford continued. 'Many have come to the door and my secretary has shown them about the place.' The patio with it's silver pool and olive and palm trees is gay with flowers. Down toward the canyon, paths have been landscaped to allow David and his friends to walk in meditation. Many of the fruits and trees, native to their Palestine, will greet the rulers when they arrive. In the two car garage next door stands a new, yellow 16 cylinder coupe which will be turned over to the rulers along with all the personal property on the place. 'Everything will be theirs, the house, the land, the furnishings and even the clothes if they need them,' Judge Rutherford said. 'What will I do? Oh, don't worry about me. I'll manage somehow.' the judge smiled. He had another 'Watch Tower' residence on Staten Island and practically an entire floor at Bethel. The seven famous men will not have long to rest at their San Diego estate because they soon will lead the forces of the Lord to vanquish the minions of Satan at the battle of Armageddon, Rutherford believed. 'But they will win out. The Lord will punish the devil and will show that the preachers and the politicians have been giving the people false counsel,' Rutherford said confidently. Rutherford will sail May 9 for Europe where he will speak before conventions in Berlin, Paris and London."
The below deed was obtained from the County Record Office, San Diego, California Book 1741 p.69. Please note how the worthies are mentioned on the second page.