Beth Sarim is not the name of a woman.

It’s the name of a house—a house that was built in San Diego by the Watchtower organization in 1929.

The Watchtower says that it was built for Watchtower president Joseph Rutherford’s use: “In time, a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for brother Rutherford’s use. 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.’” (Yearbook, 1975, p. 194)

But that’s only a half truth.

It was actually built for King David and the Old Testament patriarchs, whose return was expected at any time.

It was only to be used by Rutherford until they arrived to claim it.

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. The Hebrew words Beth Sarim mean ‘House of the Princes’; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there are those on earth today who fully believe in 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 forever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes on the earth…. It stands there as a testimony to Jehovah’s name; 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. (Salvation, 1939, p. 311)


They deeded the property in trust for these worthies:

Both the grantor and the grantee are fully persuaded from the Bible testimony which is the word of Jehovah God and from extraneous evidence that God’s Kingdom is now in the course of establishment and that it will result beneficially for the peoples of earth; that the governing power and authority will be invisible to men but that the kingdom of God will have visible representatives on the earth who will have charge of the affairs of the nations under supervision of the invisible ruler, Christ. That among those who will be thus the faithful representatives and visible governors of the world will be David, who was once King over Israel; and Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jepthai, and Joseph, formerly ruler of Egypt, and Samuel the prophet and other faithful men named with approval in the Bible at Hebrews 11th chapter.

In 1930, the Golden Age magazine of the Watchtower organization quoted from the trust deed:

The WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY shall hold said title perpetually in trust for the use of any or all of the men above named as representatives of God’s kingdom on earth and that such men shall have possession and use of said property hereinabove described as they may deem for the best interest for the work in which they are engaged. Any persons appearing to take possession of said premises shall first prove and identify themselves to the proper officers of said Society as the person or persons described in Hebrews chapter eleven and in this deed. (Golden Age, March 19, 1930, pp. 400-401)

Despite the “perpetual trust” set forth in the deed, after Rutherford’s death in 1942, the Watchtower sold Beth Sarim—the princes’ house—and it has been owned ever since by people having no connection with the Watchtower organization.

Why did it sell the princes’ house? The Watchtower explained:

It had fully served its purpose and was now only serving as a monument quite expensive to keep; our faith in the return of the men of old time whom the King Christ Jesus will make princes in ALL the earth (not merely in California) is based, not upon that house Beth-Sarim, but upon God’s Word of promise. (The Watchtower, December 15, 1947)

What was the purpose that had been “fully served”?

Was it perhaps to provide a luxuriant home for president Rutherford in his final years rather than a home for the eagerly awaited Old Testament worthies?

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