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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What does the Bible Really Teach?

CAN you recall a time when you received a fine gift from a dear friend? Likely, the experience was not only exciting but also heartwarming. After all, a gift tells you something about the giver—that he or she values your friendship. No doubt you expressed gratitude for your friend’s thoughtful gift.

2 The Bible is a gift from God, one for which we can be truly grateful. This unique book reveals things that we could never find out otherwise. For example, it tells us about the creation of the starry heavens, the earth, and the first man and woman. The Bible contains reliable principles to help us cope with life’s problems and anxieties. It explains how God will fulfill his purpose and bring about better conditions on the earth. What an exciting gift the Bible is!

3 The Bible is also a heartwarming gift, for it reveals something about the Giver, Jehovah God. The fact that he has provided such a book is proof that he wants us to get to know him well. Indeed, the Bible can help you to draw close to Jehovah.

4 If you have a copy of the Bible, you are far from alone. In whole or in part, the Bible has been published in more than 2,300 languages and thus is available to more than 90 percent of the world’s population. On the average, more than a million Bibles are distributed each week! Billions of copies of either the whole Bible or part of it have been produced. Surely, there is no other book like the Bible.

5 Furthermore, the Bible “is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) In what way? The Bible itself answers: “Men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) To illustrate: A businessman might have a secretary write a letter. That letter contains the businessman’s thoughts and instructions. Hence, it is really his letter, not the secretary’s. In a similar way, the Bible contains God’s message, not that of the men who wrote it down. Thus, the entire Bible truthfully is “the word of God.”—1 Thessalonians 2:13.

6 The Bible was written over a 1,600-year period. Its writers lived at different times and came from many walks of life. Some were farmers, fishermen, and shepherds. Others were prophets, judges, and kings. The Gospel writer Luke was a doctor. Despite the varied backgrounds of its writers, the Bible is harmonious from beginning to end.*

7 The first book of the Bible tells us how mankind’s problems began. The last book shows that the whole earth will become a paradise, or garden. All the material in the Bible covers thousands of years of history and relates in some way to the unfolding of God’s purpose. The harmony of the Bible is impressive, but that is what we would expect of a book from God.

8 The Bible is scientifically accurate. It even contains information that was far ahead of its time. For example, the book of Leviticus contained laws for ancient Israel on quarantine and hygiene when surrounding nations knew nothing about such matters. At a time when there were wrong ideas about the shape of the earth, the Bible referred to it as a circle, or sphere. (Isaiah 40:22) The Bible accurately said that the earth ‘hangs on nothing.’ (Job 26:7) Of course, the Bible is not a science textbook. But when it touches on scientific matters, it is accurate. Is this not what we would expect of a book from God?

9 The Bible is also historically accurate and reliable. Its accounts are specific. They include not only the names but also the ancestry of individuals.# In contrast to secular historians, who often do not mention the defeats of their own people, Bible writers were honest, even recording their own failings and those of their nation. In the Bible book of Numbers, for instance, the writer Moses admits his own serious error for which he was severely reproved. (Numbers 20:2-12) Such honesty is rare in other historical accounts but is found in the Bible because it is a book from God.

10 Because the Bible is inspired of God, it is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Yes, the Bible is a practical book. It reflects a keen understanding of human nature. No wonder, for its Author, Jehovah God, is the Creator! He understands our thinking and emotions better than we do. Furthermore, Jehovah knows what we need in order to be happy. He also knows what pathways we should avoid.

11 Consider Jesus’ speech called the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew chapters 5 to 7. In this masterpiece of teaching, Jesus spoke on a number of topics, including the way to find true happiness, how to settle disputes, how to pray, and how to have the proper view of material things. Jesus’ words are just as powerful and practical today as they were when he spoke them.

12 Some Bible principles deal with family life, work habits, and relationships with others. The Bible’s principles apply to all people, and its counsel is always beneficial. The wisdom found in the Bible is summarized by God’s words through the prophet Isaiah: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself.”—Isaiah 48:17.

13 The Bible contains numerous prophecies, many of which have already been fulfilled. Consider an example. Through the prophet Isaiah, who lived in the eighth century B.C.E., Jehovah foretold that the city of Babylon would be destroyed. (Isaiah 13:19; 14:22, 23) Details were given to show just how this would happen. Invading armies would dry up Babylon’s river and march into the city without a battle. That is not all. Isaiah’s prophecy even named the king who would conquer Babylon—Cyrus.—Isaiah 44:27–45:2.

14 Some 200 years later—on the night of October 5/6, 539 B.C.E.—an army encamped near Babylon. Who was its commander? A Persian king named Cyrus. The stage was thus set for the fulfillment of an amazing prophecy. But would the army of Cyrus invade Babylon without a battle, as foretold?

15 The Babylonians were holding a festival that night and felt secure behind their massive city walls. Meanwhile, Cyrus cleverly diverted the water of the river that flowed through the city. Soon the water was shallow enough for his men to cross the riverbed and approach the walls of the city. But how would Cyrus’ army get past Babylon’s walls? For some reason, on that night the doors to the city were carelessly left open!

16 Regarding Babylon, it was foretold: “She will never be inhabited, nor will she reside for generation after generation. And there the Arab will not pitch his tent, and no shepherds will let their flocks lie down there.” (Isaiah 13:20) This prophecy did more than predict a city’s fall. It showed that Babylon would be desolated permanently. You can see evidence of the fulfillment of these words. The uninhabited site of ancient Babylon—about 50 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq—is proof that what Jehovah spoke through Isaiah has been fulfilled: “I will sweep her with the broom of annihilation.”—Isaiah 14:22, 23.%

17 Considering how the Bible is a book of reliable prophecy is faith strengthening, is it not? After all, if Jehovah God has fulfilled his past promises, we have every reason to be confident that he will also fulfill his promise of a paradise earth. (Numbers 23:19) Indeed, we have “hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting.”—Titus 1:2.^

18 From what we have considered in this chapter, it is clear that the Bible is truly a unique book. Yet, its value extends far beyond its internal harmony, scientific and historical accuracy, practical wisdom, and reliable prophecy. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.”—Hebrews 4:12.

19 Reading God’s “word,” or message, in the Bible can change our life. It can help us to examine ourselves as never before. We may claim to love God, but how we react to what his inspired Word, the Bible, teaches will reveal our true thoughts, even the very intentions of the heart.

20 The Bible truly is a book from God. It is a book that is to be read, studied, and loved. Show your gratitude for this divine gift by continuing to peer into its contents. As you do so, you will gain a deep appreciation of God’s purpose for mankind. Just what that purpose is and how it will be realized will be discussed in the following chapter.

- Published by the WTB&TS,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How We Came to Be Known as Jehovah’s Witnesses

Derisive Nicknames

From the 16th century onward, this situation posed a problem for the Reformers. Since the name Christian was being used so loosely, how could they distinguish themselves from others who claimed to be Christians?

Often they simply acquiesced to the use of a derisive nickname given to them by their enemies. Thus theological opponents of Martin Luther, in Germany, were the ones that first applied his name to his followers, calling them Lutherans. Those associated with John Wesley, in England, were labeled Methodists because they were unusually precise and methodical in the observance of religious duties. Baptists at first resisted the nickname Anabaptist (meaning, “Rebaptizer”) but gradually adopted the name Baptist as a sort of compromise.

What about the Bible Students? They were dubbed Russellites and Rutherfordites by the clergy. But adopting such a name would have fostered a sectarian spirit. It would have been inconsistent with the reproof given to early Christians by the apostle Paul, who wrote: “When one says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ but another says: ‘I to Apollos,’ are you not simply men [that is, fleshly in outlook instead of spiritual]?” (1 Cor. 3:4) Some people labeled them “Millennial Dawnists”; but Christ’s Millennial Reign was only one of their teachings. Others called them “Watch Tower People”; but that too was inappropriate, for the Watch Tower was merely one of the publications that they used to disseminate Bible truth.

Need for a Distinctive Name

In time, it became increasingly evident that in addition to the designation Christian, the congregation of Jehovah’s servants truly did need a distinctive name. The meaning of the name Christian had become distorted in the public mind because people who claimed to be Christians often had little or no idea who Jesus Christ was, what he taught, and what they should be doing if they really were his followers. Additionally, as our brothers progressed in their understanding of God’s Word, they clearly saw the need to be separate and distinct from those religious systems that fraudulently claimed to be Christian.

True, our brothers often referred to themselves as Bible Students, and starting in 1910, they used the name International Bible Students’ Association with reference to their meetings. In 1914, in order to avoid confusion with their recently formed legal corporation called International Bible Students Association, they adopted the name Associated Bible Students for their local groups. But their worship involved more than studying the Bible. Furthermore, there were others who also studied the Bible—some, devoutly; others, as critics; and not a few, as persons who viewed it simply as fine literature. Then, after the death of Brother Russell, some former associates refused to cooperate with the Watch Tower Society and the International Bible Students Association, even opposing the work of these societies. Such fragmented groups used a variety of names, some of them clinging to the designation Associated Bible Students.

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This caused further confusion.

But then, in 1931, we embraced the truly distinctive name Jehovah’s Witnesses. Author Chandler W. Sterling refers to this as “the greatest stroke of genius” on the part of J. F. Rutherford, then president of the Watch Tower Society. As that writer viewed the matter, this was a clever move that not only provided an official name for the group but also made it easy for them to interpret all the Biblical references to “witness” and “witnessing” as applying specifically to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In contrast, A. H. Macmillan, an administrative associate of three presidents of the Watch Tower Society, said concerning that announcement by Brother Rutherford: “There is no doubt in my mind—not then nor now—that the Lord guided him in that, and that is the name Jehovah wants us to bear, and we’re very happy and very glad to have it.” Which viewpoint do the facts support? Was the name ‘a stroke of genius’ on the part of Brother Rutherford, or was it the result of divine providence?

Developments Pointing to the Name

It was in the eighth century B.C.E. that Jehovah caused Isaiah to write: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. . . . You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I am God.’” (Isa. 43:10, 12) As shown in the Christian Greek Scriptures, many prophecies recorded by Isaiah have fulfillment in connection with the Christian congregation. (Compare Isaiah 8:18 with Hebrews 2:10-13; Isaiah 66:22 with Revelation 21:1, 2.) Yet, Isaiah 43:10, 12 was never discussed in any detail in The Watch Tower during its first 40 years of publication.

After that, however, their study of the Scriptures directed the attention of Jehovah’s servants to significant new developments. God’s Kingdom with Jesus as Messianic King had been brought to birth in the heavens in 1914. In 1925, the year that this was made clear in The Watch Tower, the prophetic command, in Isaiah chapter 43, to be witnesses of Jehovah was given attention in 11 different issues of the magazine.

In The Watch Tower of January 1, 1926, the principal article featured the challenging question: “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” During the next five years, The Watch Tower discussed some portion of Isaiah 43:10-12 in 46 separate issues and each time made application of it to true Christians. In 1929 it was pointed out that the outstanding issue facing all intelligent creation involves the honoring of Jehovah’s name. And in connection with the responsibility that Jehovah’s servants have regarding this issue, Isaiah 43:10-12 repeatedly came up for consideration.

Thus the facts show that as a result of study of the Bible, attention was repeatedly being drawn to their obligation to be witnesses of Jehovah. It was not the name of a group that was under consideration but the work that they were to do.

But by what name should those witnesses be known? What would be appropriate in view of the work they were doing? To what conclusion did God’s own Word point? This matter was discussed at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., on July 24-30, 1931.

A New Name

The large letters J W appeared prominently on the front cover of the convention program. What did they mean? It was not until Sunday, July 26, that their significance was explained. On that day Brother Rutherford delivered the public discourse “The Kingdom, the Hope of the World.” In that discourse, when identifying those who are the proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, the speaker made special reference to the name Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Later that day Brother Rutherford followed this up with another talk, during which he discussed reasons why a distinctive name was needed. To what name did the Scriptures themselves point? The speaker quoted Acts 15:14, which directs attention to God’s purpose to take out of the nations “a people for his name.” In his discourse he highlighted the fact that as stated at Revelation 3:14, Jesus Christ is “the faithful and true witness.” He referred to John 18:37, where Jesus declared: “For this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” He directed attention to 1 Peter 2:9, 10, which says that God’s servants are to ‘declare abroad the excellencies of the one that called them out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ He reasoned on a number of texts from Isaiah, not all of which were understood clearly at that time, but then he climaxed his presentation with Isaiah 43:8-12, which includes the divine commission: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I am God.’” To what conclusion, then, was Jehovah’s own Word directing them? What name would be in harmony with the way God was in fact using them?

The obvious answer was embodied in a resolution enthusiastically adopted on that occasion. That resolution said, in part:

“In order that our true position may be made known, and believing that this is in harmony with the will of God, as expressed in his Word, BE IT RESOLVED, as follows, to wit:

“THAT we have great love for Brother Charles T. Russell, for his work’s sake, and that we gladly acknowledge that the Lord used him and greatly blessed his work, yet we cannot consistently with the Word of God consent to be called by the name ‘Russellites’; that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the International Bible Students Association and the Peoples Pulpit Association are merely names of corporations which as a company of Christian people we hold, control and use to carry on our work in obedience to God’s commandments, yet none of these names properly attach to or apply to us as a body of Christians who follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master, Christ Jesus; that we are students of the Bible, but, as a body of Christians forming an association, we decline to assume or be called by the name ‘Bible Students’ or similar names as a means of identification of our proper position before the Lord; we refuse to bear or to be called by the name of any man;

“THAT, having been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer, justified and begotten by Jehovah God and called to his kingdom, we unhesitatingly declare our entire allegiance and devotion to Jehovah God and his kingdom; that we are servants of Jehovah God commissioned to do a work in his name, and, in obedience to his commandment, to deliver the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to make known to the people that Jehovah is the true and Almighty God; therefore we joyfully embrace and take the name which the mouth of the Lord God has named, and we desire to be known as and called by the name, to wit, Jehovah’s witnesses.—Isa. 43:10-12.”

Following the presentation of the full resolution, loud, sustained applause indicated the full agreement of the audience with what had been stated.

- Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, WTB&TS


Additional Reading:

Which form of the divine name is correct—Jehovah or Yahweh?

No human today can be certain how it was originally pronounced in Hebrew. Why not? Biblical Hebrew was originally written with only consonants, no vowels. When the language was in everyday use, readers easily provided the proper vowels. In time, however, the Jews came to have the superstitious idea that it was wrong to say God’s personal name out loud, so they used substitute expressions. Centuries later, Jewish scholars developed a system of points by which to indicate which vowels to use when reading ancient Hebrew, but they put the vowels for the substitute expressions around the four consonants representing the divine name. Thus the original pronunciation of the divine name was lost.

Many scholars favor the spelling “Yahweh,” but it is uncertain and there is not agreement among them. On the other hand, “Jehovah” is the form of the name that is most readily recognized, because it has been used in English for centuries and preserves, equally with other forms, the four consonants of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton.

J. B. Rotherham, in The Emphasised Bible, used the form Yahweh throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. However, later in his Studies in the Psalms he used the form “Jehovah.” He explained: “JEHOVAH—The employment of this English form of the Memorial name . . . in the present version of the Psalter does not arise from any misgiving as to the more correct pronunciation, as being Yahwéh; but solely from practical evidence personally selected of the desirability of keeping in touch with the public ear and eye in a matter of this kind, in which the principal thing is the easy recognition of the Divine name intended.”—(London, 1911), p. 29.

After discussing various pronunciations, German professor Gustav Friedrich Oehler concluded: “From this point onward I use the word Jehovah, because, as a matter of fact, this name has now become more naturalized in our vocabulary, and cannot be supplanted.”—Theologie des Alten Testaments, second edition (Stuttgart, 1882), p. 143.

Jesuit scholar Paul Joüon states: “In our translations, instead of the (hypothetical) form Yahweh, we have used the form Jéhovah . . . which is the conventional literary form used in French.”—Grammaire de l’hébreu biblique (Rome, 1923), footnote on p. 49.

Most names change to some extent when transferred from one language to another. Jesus was born a Jew, and his name in Hebrew was perhaps pronounced Ye‧shu′a‛, but the inspired writers of the Christian Scriptures did not hesitate to use the Greek form of the name, I‧e‧sous′. In most other languages the pronunciation is slightly different, but we freely use the form that is common in our tongue. The same is true of other Bible names.

How, then, can we show proper respect for the One to whom the most important name of all belongs? Would it be by never speaking or writing his name because we do not know exactly how it was originally pronounced? Or, rather, would it be by using the pronunciation and spelling that are common in our language, while speaking well of its Owner and conducting ourselves as his worshipers in a manner that honors him?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Does the Bible Have a Hidden Code?

ABOUT two years after the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, a journalist claimed that with the assistance of computer technology, he had discovered a prediction of that event hidden in the original Hebrew Bible text. The journalist, Michael Drosnin, wrote that he had tried to warn the prime minister over a year before the assassination but to no avail.

Other books and articles have now been published claiming that this hidden code provides absolute proof of God's inspiration of the Bible. Does such a code exist? Should a hidden code be the basis for believing that the Bible is inspired of God?

A New Idea?

The idea of a hidden code in the Bible text is not new. It is a central concept in the Cabala, or traditional Jewish mysticism. According to Cabalistic teachers, the simple meaning of the Bible text is not its true meaning. They believe that God used the individual letters of the Hebrew Bible text as symbols, which when properly understood reveal a greater truth. In their view, each Hebrew letter and its position in the Bible text was set by God with a specific purpose in mind.

According to Jeffrey Satinover, a researcher of the Bible code, these Jewish mystics believe that the Hebrew letters used to record the creation account in Genesis hold incredible mystical power. He writes: "Genesis, in short, is not simply a description; it is the very instrument of the act of creation itself, a blueprint in the mind of God made manifest in physical form."

A 13th-century Cabalistic rabbi, Bachya ben Asher of Saragossa, Spain, wrote of certain hidden information that was revealed to him by reading every 42nd letter in a portion of Genesis. This method of skipping over letters according to a particular sequence in an attempt to discover hidden messages is the basis for the modern Bible-code concept.

Computers "Reveal" the Code

Before the computer age, man's ability to examine the Bible text in this way was limited. In August 1994, however, the journal Statistical Science published an article in which Eliyahu Rips of Jerusalem's Hebrew University and his fellow researchers made some startling claims. They explained that by removing all spaces between letters and using a sequence of equidistant jumps between letters in the Hebrew text of Genesis, they had discovered the names of 34 famous rabbis encoded in the text, along with other information, such as their dates of birth or death, in close proximity to their names.* After repeated testing, the researchers published their conclusion that the information encoded in Genesis was statistically beyond the possibility of chance—proof of inspired information deliberately hidden in code form in Genesis thousands of years ago.

Building on this method, journalist Drosnin ran his own tests, searching for hidden information in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. According to Drosnin, he found the name of Yitzhak Rabin embedded in the Bible text by a sequence of every 4,772 letters. With the Bible text arranged in lines of 4,772 letters each, he saw that Rabin's name (read vertically) intersected with a line (Deuteronomy 4:42, running horizontally) that Drosnin translated as "assassin that will assassinate."

Deuteronomy 4:42 actually speaks of a manslayer who has killed unintentionally. Thus, many have criticized Drosnin's arbitrary approach, claiming that his unscientific methods could be used to find similar messages in any text. But Drosnin stood his ground, issuing this challenge: "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a Prime Minister encrypted in [the novel] Moby Dick, I will believe them."

Proof of Inspiration?

Professor Brendan McKay, of the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University, took up Drosnin's challenge and made extensive computer searches through the English text of Moby Dick.# Using the same method described by Drosnin, McKay claims to have found "predictions" of the assassinations of Indira Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and others. According to McKay, he discovered that Moby Dick also "prophesied" the murder of Yitzhak Rabin.

Returning to the Hebrew text of Genesis, Professor McKay and associates have also challenged the experimental results of Rips and his associates. The charge was that the results have less to do with an inspired encoded message than with the researchers' method and approach—the fitting of data largely done at the discretion of the researchers. Scholarly debate on this point continues.

Another issue arises when claims are made that such encrypted messages were deliberately hidden in the "standard" or "original" Hebrew text. Rips and his fellow researchers say that they made their search with the "standard, generally accepted text of Genesis." Drosnin writes: "All Bibles in the original Hebrew language that now exist are the same letter for letter." But is this the case? Rather than a "standard" text, various editions of the Hebrew Bible are used today, based on different ancient manuscripts. While the Bible message does not differ, the individual manuscripts are not identical letter for letter.

Many translations today are based on the Leningrad Codex—the oldest complete Hebrew Masoretic manuscript—copied about the year 1000 C.E. But Rips and Drosnin used a different text, namely the Koren. Shlomo Sternberg, an Orthodox rabbi and mathematician at Harvard University, explains that the Leningrad Codex "differs from the Koren edition used by Drosnin by 41 letters in Deuteronomy alone." The Dead Sea Scrolls include portions of the Bible text copied over 2,000 years ago. The spelling in these scrolls often differs considerably from later Masoretic texts. In some scrolls, certain letters were freely added to indicate vowel sounds, since vowel points had not yet been invented. In other scrolls, fewer letters were used. A comparison between all extant Biblical manuscripts shows that the meaning of the Bible text remains intact. Yet, it also clearly indicates that the spelling and number of letters vary from text to text.

The search for a supposed hidden message depends upon an absolutely unchanging text. One letter altered would completely distort the sequence—and the message if there was one. God has preserved his message through the Bible. But he has not preserved each letter intact, as if he were obsessed with such trivial matters as spelling changes over the course of centuries. Does this not indicate that he has not buried a hidden message in the Bible?—Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:24, 25.

Do We Need a Hidden Bible Code?

The apostle Paul very clearly wrote that "all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) The clear and straightforward message in the Bible is not too difficult to understand or apply, but many people choose to ignore it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) The prophecies that are openly presented in the Bible give a solid basis for believing its inspiration.% Unlike a hidden code, Bible prophecies are not arbitrary, and they do not 'spring from any private interpretation.'—2 Peter 1:19-21.

The apostle Peter wrote that "it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:16) The concept of a Bible code has its roots in Jewish mysticism, utilizing "artfully contrived" methods that obscure and distort the plain meaning of the Bible's inspired text. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves unequivocally condemned such a mystical approach.—Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:9-13.

How happy we are to have the Bible's clear message and instruction, which can help us to know God! This is far better than trying to learn about our Creator by searching for hidden messages that are the products of private interpretation and computer-assisted imagination.—Matthew 7:24, 25.


* In Hebrew, numeric values can also be represented by letters. Therefore, these dates were determined by letters in the Hebrew text rather than by numerals.

# Hebrew is a language without vowel letters. Vowels are inserted by the reader according to context. If the context is ignored, a word's meaning can be completely changed by inserting different vowel sounds. English has fixed vowel letters, making such a word search far more difficult and restrictive.

% For more information on the Bible's inspiration and its prophecies, see the brochure A Book for All People, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

- Appeared in the April 1, 2000, Watchtower, WTB&TS

The Allure of Numbers

IMAGINE a world without numbers. There would be no money. Trade would be restricted to face-to-face barter. And what about sports? Without numbers, not only would we be unable to keep score but we could not even define how many players should be on each team!

Besides their practical application, however, numbers carry an aura of mystery. This is because they are abstract. You cannot see, touch, or feel numbers. To illustrate: An apple has a distinct color, texture, size, shape, smell, and taste. You can check each of these properties to see whether a certain object is indeed an apple, a lemon, a ball, or something else. A number, however, is not like that. One collection of seven items may not share anything in common with another collection of seven items—other than their “sevenness.” Hence, to comprehend the meaning of numbers—for example, to discern the difference between six and seven—is to grasp something very abstract indeed. And this is where number mystics come into the picture.

From Pythagoras to Pseudoscience

Attributing special meaning to numbers was common in ancient societies. Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher and mathematician who lived during the sixth century B.C.E., taught that all things can be reduced to numerical patterns. He and his followers reasoned that the whole universe exemplifies order and proportion. Could it not be, then, that mathematical relationships are inherent in all material things?

Since Pythagoras’ day, numerical readings have been used for prediction and dream interpretation as well as for memory aids. They have been employed by Greeks, Muslims, and members of Christendom. Using a system of numerology called gematria, Jewish Cabalists assigned a numerical value to each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and thereby claim to have found hidden meanings in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Modern-day numerology is similar. Often, your name and birth date will be the starting point. A numerical value is assigned to each letter in your name. By adding these—along with the numbers of your birth month and date—a numerologist establishes your key numbers. He then ascribes special meaning to these numbers, which he feels provide a complete description of you—including your personality, your unconscious desires, and your destiny.

Perhaps the real attraction of numerology lies in the seeming accuracy of its analysis. “Many people have come to believe in numerology through finding how closely the numbers fit those to whom they are applied,” writes Edward Albertson in his book Prophecy for the Millions. Yet, numerology has also been labeled a pseudoscience. Why? Are there reasons for you to be suspicious of its claims?


In his book The Bible Code, journalist Michael Drosnin claims to have discovered hidden messages by means of computer analysis of the Hebrew Scriptures. According to Drosnin’s claims, the “code” yielded the words “assassin that will assassinate” along with the name Yitzhak Rabin—and this was found a year before Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was killed.

As expected, The Bible Code created its share of controversy. Dave Thomas, a mathematician and physicist, demonstrated that computer analysis of any text will produce what appear to be cryptic messages. Analyzing Drosnin’s own text, Thomas came up with the words “code,” “silly,” and “hoax.” “Hidden messages can be found anywhere,” Thomas says, “provided you’re willing to invest time and effort to harvest the vast field of probability.”

With its capability of making an unlimited number of calculations, a computer would likely find some combinations of letters that could be used as some sort of prediction. But this is merely a coincidence and does not prove that the Bible contains hidden messages.

- Appeared in the September 8, 2002 Awake, WTB&TS

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why did Pastor Russell's wife leave him?

Additional Reading:

Is it proper for a married woman to leave her husband if they cannot get along well? Why did the wife of the first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, C. T. Russell, leave him?—U.S.A.

The Bible does not encourage divorce or separation simply because a husband and his wife are not getting along well. Under inspiration the apostle Paul wrote: “To the married people I give instructions, yet not I but the Lord, that a wife should not depart from her husband; but if she should actually depart, let her remain unmarried or else make up again with her husband; and a husband should not leave his wife.”—1 Cor. 7:10, 11.

So rather than resort to separation when difficulties arise in the marriage, a Christian woman ought to do everything that she can to work toward a better, more loving relationship with her husband. Appreciating marriage as God’s institution and gift to mankind, she should want to make her marriage work out to the praise and honor of the Giver, Jehovah God. She should be careful never to give her husband any reason to want to leave, for the unbeliever should be able to see that true Christianity is responsible for making his marriage mate a more loving, kind, considerate and understanding wife. This would be in harmony with the counsel given by the apostle Peter: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.”—1 Pet. 3:1, 2.

At times, however, despite the fine conduct of his Christian wife, an unbeliever insists on leaving her. In that case, should the believing wife strive to prevent her husband from departing? Or should a Christian husband hinder an unbelieving wife from leaving him? No. The Bible tells us: “If the unbelieving one proceeds to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not in servitude under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace.”—1 Cor. 7:15.

At times it may happen that a wife who claims to be a Christian leaves her believing husband. The husband may keenly regret the separation and may rightly hope for a reconciliation. But what if the wife’s departure is over the issue of husbandly headship or a disagreement over some other Biblical principle?

In that case the Christian husband recognizes that he cannot compromise his position as family head or make any concession that would be contrary to the Scriptures in order to bring about a reconciliation. A Christian husband is under divine command to reflect God’s glory. For him to abandon his position of headship would mean shaming the head of the Christian congregation, Jesus Christ, and dishonoring Jehovah God.—Compare 1 Corinthians 11:3-7.

C. T. Russell appreciated his Scriptural position as husband, as is evident from his handling of matters in connection with his wife. In a letter to a personal friend in England, dated December 27, 1899, he explained why his wife had departed and also expressed his feelings about it, saying:

“Our dear Sister Russell became afflicted with the same malady which has smitten others—notably those mentioned in the pamphlet, ‘A Conspiracy Exposed.’ Their difficulty was the same as that of the great Adversary in the beginning—ambition, and a desire to subvert matters in order to gratify that ambition.

“It is over twenty years since we were married, and for thirteen of those years Sister Russell was all that could be asked of a loving, noble, true helpmate, and at the time of the conspiracy she was still in this attitude to such an extent that she voluntarily made a trip through several states on the track of S. D. Rogers, correcting his slanderous statements. But the ambitious spirit which already had begun to work was fanned quite to a flame by the very warm reception which was accorded to our dear sister on the occasion above mentioned. She seemed to forget that she was received, not merely for herself, but also as a representative of the Lord’s work, and as the representative of her husband.

“She returned from that trip very self-conscious, and in that respect very different from what she had been previously—especially for the first ten years of our married life. This spirit seemed to grow stronger instead of less, until about four years ago, when she began to ‘strike’ for the gratification of her ambition. You will remember that it is nearly four years since at her request her name was dropped, as associate editor, and thereafter attached to any articles which she might write in the WATCH TOWER. The next move was to insist upon more space, and upon liberty to write what she pleased, which should not have any correction or criticism. This lasted awhile, until I told her, kindly but plainly, that I could not think it to be the Lord’s will to encourage her to take any part in the work so long as she manifested so ambitious a spirit. From that date nothing was published from her pen.

“Her next move was to seek to compel me to give her space, etc., or what she termed her proper liberties to use her talents. To this end she called two brethren to meet me, after the manner of Matt. 18:15. She was wholly disappointed in the results, for the brethren told her plainly that to their understanding the question she raised was entirely outside their jurisdiction, or that of any others; that so far as her judgment would guide them the Lord had not erred in putting matters into the hands of Brother Russell, and if he at any time saw fit to change the arrangements he was abundantly able to do so, and that they could only advise her to the contrary of her wishes, much as they regretted this disappointment of her exaltation.

“The next step of Sister Russell and her (natural) sisters was to organize a women’s crusade against me in the Allegheny congregation. The result was a considerable stirring up of slander and misrepresentation, for of course it would not serve their purposes to tell the plain unvarnished truth, that Sister Russell was ambitious, etc. You can readily understand my position; as a man I would be at a disadvantage, and the slanders proceeded without my being able to do anything to counteract them, and as you well know my desire was not to say a word against the companion of my choice, whom I dearly loved, and whom I still dearly love.

“Briefly, then, this female conspiracy came to a head, and resulted in a little sifting, the majority, under the Lord’s providence, being recovered from the snare, and only about six or eight of our company of two hundred, injured by it. Sister Russell’s next move was to give color to the slanders that had been started, by leaving me—she hoping that I would go after her and make any concession to have her back. But in this she was mistaken, and when she desired to come back I totally refused, except upon a promise that she should make reasonable acknowledgement of the wrong course she had been pursuing for a year, and give some assurance of being a friend and not an enemy. I esteemed that I had been delivered of the Lord, and that to put myself again into her power without reasonable guarantees would be wrong on my part. This is two years ago now. She is living in the city with her mother and sisters, and holds a little religious meeting, which her coterie of friends attend. I see her frequently, treat her kindly, and never have anything but the very best of wishes respecting her present and eternal welfare.”

In summing up the matter respecting his wife, C. T. Russell wrote: “Sister Russell became afflicted with the spirit of ambition, as others have been, and in the Lord’s providence it seemed best three years ago now that she should not be further identified with the publications [of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society], until such time as she might show a thorough change of heart in this matter.”

Manifestly C. T. Russell acted rightly in doing what he could to be kind and considerate to his wife. But Scripturally he could not abandon his position as head to bring about a reconciliation.

- Questions from Readers, 1972 Watchtower, WTB&TS


In 1879, Charles Taze Russell married Maria Frances Ackley. They had a good relationship for 13 years. Then flattery of Maria and appeals to pride on her part by others began to undermine that relationship; but when their objective became clear, she seemed to regain her balance. After a former associate had spread falsehoods about Brother Russell, she even asked her husband’s permission to visit a number of congregations to answer the charges, since it had been alleged that he mistreated her. However, the fine reception she was given on that trip in 1894 evidently contributed to a gradual change in her opinion of herself. She sought to secure for herself a stronger voice in directing what would appear in the Watch Tower. When she realized that nothing that she wrote would be published unless her husband, the editor of the magazine, agreed with its contents (on the basis of its consistency with the Scriptures), she became greatly disturbed. He put forth earnest effort to help her, but in November 1897 she left him. Nevertheless, he provided her with a place to live and means of maintenance. Years later, after court proceedings that had been initiated by her in 1903, she was awarded, in 1908, a judgment, not of absolute divorce, but of divorce from bed and board, with alimony.

Having failed to force her husband to acquiesce to her demands, she put forth great effort after she left him to bring his name into disrepute. In 1903 she published a tract filled, not with Scriptural truths, but with gross misrepresentations of Brother Russell. She sought to enlist ministers of various denominations to distribute them where the Bible Students were holding special meetings. To their credit not many at that time were willing to be used in that way. However, other clergymen since then have shown a different spirit.

Earlier, Maria Russell had condemned, verbally and in writing, those who charged Brother Russell with the sort of misconduct that she herself now alleged. Using certain unsubstantiated statements made during court proceedings in 1906 (and which statements were struck from the record by order of the court), some religious opposers of Brother Russell have published charges designed to make it appear that he was an immoral man and hence unfit to be a minister of God. However, the court record is clear that such charges are false. Her own lawyer asked Mrs. Russell whether she believed her husband was guilty of adultery. She answered: “No.” It is also noteworthy that when a committee of Christian elders listened to Mrs. Russell’s charges against her husband in 1897, she made no mention of the things that she later stated in court in order to persuade the jury that a divorce should be granted, though these alleged incidents occurred prior to that meeting.

Nine years after Mrs. Russell first brought the case to court, Judge James Macfarlane wrote a letter of reply to a man who was seeking a copy of the court record so that one of his associates could expose Russell. The judge frankly told him that what he wanted would be a waste of time and money. His letter stated: “The ground for her application and of the decree entered upon the verdict of the jury was ‘indignities’ and not adultery and the testimony, as I understand, does not show that Russell was living ‘an adulterous life with a co-respondent.’ In fact there was no co-respondent.”

Maria Russell’s own belated acknowledgment came at the time of Brother Russell’s funeral at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh in 1916. Wearing a veil, she walked down the aisle to the casket and laid there a bunch of lilies of the valley. Attached to them was a ribbon bearing the words, “To My Beloved Husband.”

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, 1993, WTB&TS

I thought it may be of interest to some to note that Maria Frances Russell's (1850-1938) obituary in the St. Petersburg Times, Tuesday March 15, 1938 states, "MRS. MARIA F. RUSSELL Funeral services for Mrs. Maria F. Russell, well-known religious worker who died Saturday night, will be held this morning at 10:30 o'clock at the John S. Rhodes funeral chapel with the Rev. E.R. Barnard officiating. Burial will be in Royal Palm Cemetery." Upon researching the name "E.R. Barnard" at the St. Petersburg library it was also discovered that he was the Pastor of the "West Central Presb. Church, 2627 1st ave. N. Also discovered was the home in which Maria Russell lived, 516 14th ave. N. She did, in fact, live with her niece Mabel Packard (deceased 1961 or 1962) who kept the same residence till her death and evidently had no children or other relatives known in the area. Also sharing the home residence was Mabel's husband Richard Packard (deceased in 1950's) and Emma Russell (1855 - 1929) who was Maria's fleshly sister and the widow of Joseph L. Russell, C.T. Russells father. The four are buried on a "family" plot at the cemetery mentioned in the obit. The plot was purchased in 1923 by Maria and Emma indicating that they made their way to the St. Peterburg area in, at least, the early 1920's. A May 1888 Watchtower prints a letter from C.T. Russells father Joseph from "Manitee Co., Fla" which is the St. Petersburg area. Emma Russell, J.L. Russell's wife, would then naturally have been familiar with this very beautiful Florida area. The home at 516 14th ave. N. does presently value between 500-600,000 dollars and is less than 2000 sq. feet. It is in a beautifully maintained historic area in St. Pete literally within direct sight from the bay area. I hope this information is helpful.


Also See:

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette, March 14, 1879: “RUSSELL-ACKLEY - on Thursday evening, March 13, 1879, at the residence of the bride’s mother, by Eld. J. H. Paton of Almont, Michigan. Mr. C. T. Russell to Miss Maria Ackley of Allegheny City. No cards.” - Watch Tower History Blog, by B. W. Schulz

Pastor Charles T. Russell

Seeing that God has such a wonderful Plan for the blessing of mankind, Pastor Russell gave all of his power and energy to making known these great truths to the world. He never took a vacation; he worked until the day of his death.

Like other Christians he was looking for the second coming of Christ. Between 1872-6 he discovered that the Scriptures clearly teach that the Lord would not return in a body of flesh, but would return as a spirit being, invisible to human eyes, and that his second presence was due in the autumn of 1874. This led to the publishing of a booklet entitled, "The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return," which had a phenomenal circulation.

Many students of the Bible throughout the United States and Canada responded to the information derived from that book, and his correspondence became voluminous.

Realizing the necessity of keeping the truth before the minds of those who had begun to investigate, in 1879 he began the publication of THE WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE, and was its sole Editor to the time of his death.

This journal is issued semi-monthly; it never publishes advertisements, but is devoted exclusively to religious topics. Among the English speaking people in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, its semi-monthly circulation is 45,000 copies. It is also published in Armenian, Dano-Norwegian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish Roumanian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish and Ukrainian, reaching a large number of subscribers in America and Europe.

He was President of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY from its organization in 1884 until his death. He was also President of the PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION, organized in 1909, and the INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION, incorporated in London, in 1913, both of the latter corporations being adjuncts to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY. Through these religious corporations, as well as by word of mouth, he promulgated the Gospel of Messiah’s kingdom. He was the author of the following publications, issued between the years 1881 and 1914, each having phenomenal circulation, as given below: Food For Thinking Christians 1,450,000 Tabernacle Shadows 1,000,000 Divine Plan of the Ages 5,532,500 The Time is at Hand 1,878,500 Thy Kingdom Come 1,792,500 Battle of Armageddon 714,000 The Atonement 663,500 The New Creation 646,500 What Say the Scriptures About Hell? 3,000,000 He was also the author of WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT SPIRITISM, OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS, et cetera, et cetera. He was the author of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, which had been exhibited prior to his death to more than nine million persons. He wrote and published the SCENARIO of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, which has had a very wide circulation. His publications were translated into thirty-five different languages. At the same time he was Pastor of more than 1,200 congregations of Bible Students, in different parts of the world. These he visited and taught as often as possible.

He organized and conducted a Lecture Bureau which constantly employed seventy Bible lecturers, who traveled and delivered lectures on the Scriptures. He organized and managed an auxiliary lecture bureau of seven hundred men who gave a portion of their time to lecturing on Bible teachings. Each year he wrote practically all of the copy for the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY, the annual distribution of which amounted to approximately fifty million copies.

His weekly sermons were handled by a newspaper syndicate. More than 2,000 newspapers, with a combined circulation of fifteen million readers, at one time published his discourses. All told, more than 4,000 newspapers published these sermons.

The Continent , a publication whose editor often opposed Pastor Russell, once published the following significant statement concerning him: "His writings are said to have greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America; greater even than the work of Arthur Brisbane, Norman Hapgood, George Horace Lorimer, Dr. Frank Crane, Frederick Haskins, and a dozen other of the best known editors and syndicate writers put together."

- Published by the society after his death in certain printings of the Studies in the Scriptures.

In 1870 a zealous young man, Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), began to ask many questions about Christendom’s traditional teachings. As a youth, he worked in his father’s haberdashery in the bustling industrial city of Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, U.S.A. His religious background was Presbyterian and Congregational. However, he was perturbed by such teachings as predestination and eternal torment in hellfire. What were his reasons for doubting these basic doctrines of some of Christendom’s religions? He wrote: “A God that would use his power to create human beings whom he foreknew and predestinated should be eternally tormented, could be neither wise, just nor loving. His standard would be lower than that of many men.”—Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35; 1 John 4:8, 9.

While still in his late teens, Russell started a weekly Bible study group with other young men. They began to analyze the Bible’s teachings on other subjects, such as immortality of the soul as well as Christ’s ransom sacrifice and his second coming. In 1877, at the age of 25, Russell sold his share in his father’s prospering business and began a full-time preaching career.

In 1878 Russell had a major disagreement with one of his collaborators, who had rejected the teaching that Christ’s death could be an atonement for sinners. In his rebuttal Russell wrote: “Christ accomplished various good things for us in his death and resurrection. He was our substitute in death; he died the just for the unjust—all were unjust. Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. . . . He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” He continued: “To redeem is to buy back. What did Christ buy back for all men? Life. We lost it by the disobedience of the first Adam. The second Adam [Christ] bought it back with his own life.”—Mark 10:45; Romans 5:7, 8; 1 John 2:2; 4:9, 10.

Always a staunch advocate of the ransom doctrine, Russell severed all ties with this former collaborator. In July 1879, Russell started to publish Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, known worldwide today as The Watchtower—Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. In 1881 he, in association with other dedicated Christians, established a nonprofit Bible society. It was called Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, known today as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal agency that acts in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses. From the very beginning, Russell insisted that there would be no collections taken at congregation meetings nor contributions solicited through the Watch Tower publications. The people who joined Russell in deep Bible study became known simply as the Bible Students.

A Return to Bible Truth

As a result of their Bible study, Russell and his associates came to reject Christendom’s teachings of a mysterious “Most Holy Trinity,” an inherently immortal human soul, and eternal torment in hellfire. They also rejected the need for a separate seminary-trained clergy class. They wanted to return to the humble origins of Christianity, with spiritually qualified elders to lead the congregations without thought of a salary or remuneration.—1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.

In their investigation of God’s Word, those Bible Students were keenly interested in the prophecies of the Christian Greek Scriptures related to “the end of the world” and to Christ’s “coming.” (Matthew 24:3, KJ) By turning to the Greek text, they discovered that Christ’s “coming” was, in fact, a “pa‧rou‧si′a,” or invisible presence. Therefore, Christ had given his disciples information about the evidence of his invisible presence in the time of the end, not a future visible coming. Along with this study, those Bible students had a keen desire to understand the Bible’s chronology in relation to Christ’s presence. Without understanding all the details, Russell and his associates realized that 1914 would be a crucial date in human history.—Matthew 24:3-22; Luke 21:7-33, Int.

Russell knew that a great preaching work had to be done. He was conscious of the words of Jesus recorded by Matthew: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) There was a sense of urgency to the activity of those Bible Students prior to 1914. They believed that their preaching activity would culminate in that year, and therefore they felt they should expend every effort to help others to know “this good news of the kingdom.” Eventually, C. T. Russell’s Bible sermons were being published in thousands of newspapers around the world.

Additional Reading:

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Is the Watchtower of pagan origin? No, it is not!

It appears that some ex-JWs "function" on a level that is just slightly higher then that of a tadpole. I just love this insightful comment. The reasoning ability of some apostates is overwhelming. I am sure it took him weeks to come up with this one.

"The Watchtower Bible & Tract Organization uses a pagan image as its logo. Do they realize that the watchtower is of pagan origin or do they just believe that its members will not realize it, since they are advised not to do independent study?"

Typical apostate "reasoning" how ignorant (lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact) can a person be. If this ex-JW would do “independent study” then he/she would know that this photo is of the Greek goddess Artemis. The “independent study” would also show that the Bible talks about watchtowers, towers and watchman, long before it talks about this Greek goddess. See the two volumes
of Insight on the Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Society. If this apostate would really like to talk about
pagan, then check out this link:

THE PURPOSE OF THIS MAGAZINE, The Watchtower, is to honor Jehovah God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Just as watchtowers in ancient times enabled a person to observe developments from afar, so this magazine shows us the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecies. It comforts people with the good news that God's Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is now ruling as King of God's Kingdom. This magazine has been published by Jehovah's Witnesses continuously since 1879 and is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority.

Also, on page 48 of the Proclaimers book, a footnote explains: The expression “Watch Tower” is not unique to Russell’s writings or to Jehovah’s Witnesses. George Storrs published a book in the 1850’s called The Watch Tower: Or, Man in Death; and the Hope for a Future Life. The name was also incorporated in the title of various religious periodicals. It stems from the idea of keeping on the watch for the outworking of God’s purposes.—Isa. 21:8, 11, 12; Ezek. 3:17; Hab. 2:1.

What do the facts show?

Isaiah 21 (21st Century King James Version)
6For thus hath the Lord said unto me: "Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth." 7And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed. 8And he cried, "A lion! My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set at my post whole nights. 9And behold, here cometh a chariot of men with a couple of horsemen!" And he answered and said, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the graven images of her gods He hath broken unto the ground!" 100 my threshing and the corn of my floor, that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you. 11The burden of Dumah: He calleth to me out of Seir, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?" 12The watchman said, "The morning cometh, and also the night. If ye will inquire, inquire ye; return, come."

Ezekiel 3 (21st Century King James Version)
17"Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word out of My mouth, and give them warning from Me.

Habakkuk 2 (21st Century King James Version)
1I will stand upon my watch and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. 2And the LORD answered me and said: "Write the vision and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it. 3For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie. Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry.

2 Chronicles 20 (21st Century King James Version)
24And when Judah came toward the watchtower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude; and behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. 25And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil from them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days in gathering the spoil, it was so much. 26And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the Valley of Berachah [that is, Blessing], for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore the name of the same place was called The Valley of Berachah unto this day.

- Insight on the Scriptures, published by the WTB&TS


A place of lookout or post of observation, often built on a city wall. Other watchtowers were constructed in wilderness areas or on frontiers. They were principally designed for military purposes and served to protect a city or a boundary; they were also constructed as places of refuge for shepherds and farmers in isolated areas and enabled a watchman to warn of marauders so that flocks and ripening crops in the area might be protected.—2Ch 20:24; Isa 21:8; 32:14.

A number of cities were named Mizpeh (Heb., mitspeh′, “Watchtower”), probably because of being on high elevations or because of notable towers erected there. Sometimes the Bible distinguished these cities by naming their location, as “Mizpeh of Gilead” (Jg 11:29) and “Mizpeh in Moab.”—1Sa 22:3.

A pile of stones was set up by Jacob and called “Galeed” (meaning “Witness Heap”) and “The Watchtower.” Laban then said: “Let Jehovah keep watch between me and you when we are situated unseen the one from the other.” (Ge 31:45-49) This pile of stones would testify to the fact that Jehovah was watching to see that Jacob and Laban carried out their covenant of peace.


A building (or a part of a structure) that is usually higher than its diameter and tall in relation to its surroundings. The history of tower building goes back to the time shortly after the Flood when men on the Plains of Shinar declared: “Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens.” (Ge 11:2-4) That tower is thought to have been styled along the oblique pyramid lines of the religious ziggurats discovered in that part of the earth.

Simple towers were built in vineyards as vantage points for watchmen in guarding the vines against thieves and animals.—Isa 5:1, 2; Mt 21:33; Mr 12:1.

For military defense, towers were built into the walls of cities, usually with more prominent ones at the corners and flanking the gates. (2Ch 26:9; 32:5; Eze 26:4, 9; Zep 1:16; 3:6) In some instances towers served as a chain of outposts along a frontier, or as places of refuge in isolated areas for shepherds and others.—2Ch 26:10; 27:4.

Often a tower inside the city served as a citadel. The towers of Shechem, Thebez, and Penuel were such structures. (Jg 8:9, 17; 9:46-54) Ruins of other city towers have also been found in Jericho, Beth-shan, Lachish, Megiddo, Mizpah, and Samaria.

The Hebrew term mighdal′, meaning “tower” (Eze 29:10; 30:6), forms part of the name of certain places, such as Migdal-gad (meaning “Tower of Good Fortune”) and Migdal-el (meaning “Tower of God”).—Jos 15:37; 19:38.

“Siege towers” on occasion were built by the attacking armies when assaulting fortified cities. These served as elevated firing positions for archers or throwers. Also, some assault towers contained battering rams and provided protection for those operating the rams.—Isa 23:13.

Jerusalem’s Towers

The Tower of the Bake Ovens was located on the NW side of the city near or at the Corner Gate. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) Why it was so named is not certain, but quite possibly commercial bakers were present in that vicinity. It may have been one of the towers built by Uzziah, who reigned in Jerusalem from 829 to 778 B.C.E. (2Ch 26:9) Along the N wall of the city were two other important towers: The Tower of Hananel was restored and sanctified in Nehemiah’s day. (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Jer 31:38; Zec 14:10) Close by it and to the E near the Sheep Gate was the Tower of Meah. Why it was called Meah, meaning “Hundred,” is not known.—Ne 3:1; 12:39.

Along the E wall S of the temple area was what is referred to as “the protruding tower,” and still farther S, somewhere in the vicinity of David’s palace, was a tower associated with the King’s House near the Courtyard of the Guard. (Ne 3:25-27) Some think that this latter tower was the one referred to in The Song of Solomon as “the tower of David, built in courses of stone, upon which are hung a thousand shields, all the circular shields of the mighty men.” (Ca 4:4) This tower should not be confused with the more modern so-called Tower of David, which incorporates the tower of Phasael, partly destroyed by Titus in 70 C.E. This Phasael tower was one of the three built by Herod the Great for the protection of his new palace erected near the site of the ancient Corner Gate on the W side of the city.

The Tower in Siloam was probably in the vicinity of the pool by that name in the SE sector of Jerusalem. Jesus mentioned that this tower collapsed, killing 18 men, an event that must have been fresh in the memory of his audience.—Lu 13:4.

Figurative Use

Those who look in faith and obedience to Jehovah have great security, as David sang: “You [Jehovah] have proved to be a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.” (Ps 61:3) Those who recognize what his name stands for, and who trust in and faithfully represent that name, have nothing to fear, for: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—Pr 18:10; compare 1Sa 17:45-47.


Additional Reading:

One who guards against possible harm to persons or property, often during the night, and who may sound an alarm in the face of threatened danger. In military service a watchman is usually called a guard or sentry.—Jer 51:12, ftn; Ac 12:6; 28:16.

As a protection against thieves and vandals, persons often were stationed to watch over ripening vineyards or flocks of animals, positioning themselves perhaps in booths or elevated watchtowers built for that purpose. (2Ki 17:9; 2Ch 20:24; Job 27:18; Isa 1:8) Siege forces attacking fortified places had watchmen or sentries to give their commanders military intelligence. (Jer 51:12) When King Saul was in the field camp with his army he also had personal watchmen whose responsibility was to look out for their king’s welfare.—1Sa 14:16; 26:15, 16.

Watchmen were often stationed on the city walls and towers to observe those approaching before they got close. (2Sa 18:24-27; 2Ki 9:17-20) At times watchmen made their inspection rounds through the city streets as well. (Ca 3:3; 5:7) Fearful persons, awake during the dangerous hours of the night, might repeatedly inquire of the watchmen if all was well (Isa 21:11, 12), and it was only natural for watchmen themselves to long for the daylight to come. (Ps 130:6) Happy the city that, in addition to the watchmen, had Jehovah watching over it.—Ps 127:1.

Figurative Use

Jehovah raised up prophets who served as figurative watchmen to the nation of Israel (Jer 6:17), and they, in turn, sometimes spoke of watchmen in a symbolic way. (Isa 21:6, 8; 52:8; 62:6; Ho 9:8) These prophet-watchmen had the responsibility to warn the wicked of impending destruction, and if they failed to do so, they were held accountable. Of course, if the people were unresponsive and failed to heed the warning, their blood was upon themselves. (Eze 3:17-21; 33:1-9) An unfaithful prophet was about as worthless as a blind watchman or a voiceless dog.—Isa 56:10.


A Greek virgin goddess of hunting is known as Artemis; she was identified by the Romans with Diana. Equipped with bow and arrows, this Artemis is depicted as pursuing game, especially stags. Although the Greeks identified the Ephesian Artemis with their own Artemis, the Artemis of Ephesus, who was worshiped in cities throughout Asia Minor, has little in common with the Greek deity of classical mythology. (Ac 19:27) The Ephesian Artemis was a fertility goddess represented as having multiple breasts, a turreted crown, and a kind of nimbus behind her head. The mummylike lower half of her body was decorated with various symbols and animals.

The Artemis worshiped at Ephesus has been closely connected with prominent goddesses of other peoples, and it has been suggested that they have a common origin. A Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. I, p. 605) observes: “Artemis presents such close analogies with the Phrygian Cybele, and with other feminine envisagements of the divine power in Asiatic countries, like the Cappadocian Ma, the Phoenician Astarte or Ashtaroth, the Syrian Atargatis and Mylitta, as to suggest that these are all mere varieties of one ultimate religious conception, presenting in different countries certain differences, due to varying development according to local circumstances and national character.”—Edited by J. Hastings, 1904.

The ancients ranked the temple of Artemis at Ephesus as one of the seven wonders of the world. It was an imposing structure made of cedar, cypress, white marble, and gold. For the great festivals held in the month of Artemision (March-April) visitors numbering hundreds of thousands arrived at Ephesus from all of Asia Minor. One feature of the celebration was the religious procession, with the image of Artemis being paraded about the city in a most jubilant manner. The making of silver shrines of Artemis proved to be a profitable enterprise for Demetrius and other Ephesian silversmiths. Therefore, when the apostle Paul’s preaching in Ephesus caused a considerable number of persons to forsake the unclean worship of this goddess, Demetrius stirred up the other craftsmen, telling them that not only did Paul’s preaching pose a threat to their financial security but also the danger existed that the worship of the great goddess Artemis would come to nothing. This culminated in a riot that was finally dispersed by the city recorder.—Ac 19:23-41;

ACTS 19:23-41 NWT

23 At that particular time there arose no little disturbance concerning The Way. 24 For a certain man named De·me′tri·us, a silversmith, by making silver shrines of Ar′te·mis furnished the craftsmen no little gain; 25 and he gathered them and those who worked at such things and said: “Men, YOU well know that from this business we have our prosperity. 26 Also, YOU behold and hear how not only in Eph′e·sus but in nearly all the [district of] Asia this Paul has persuaded a considerable crowd and turned them to another opinion, saying that the ones that are made by hands are not gods. 27 Moreover, the danger exists not only that this occupation of ours will come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Ar′te·mis will be esteemed as nothing and even her magnificence which the whole [district of] Asia and the inhabited earth worships is about to be brought down to nothing.” 28 Hearing this and becoming full of anger, the men began crying out, saying: “Great is Ar′te·mis of the E·phesians!” 35 When, finally, the city recorder had quieted the crowd, he said: “Men of Eph′e·sus, who really is there of mankind that does not know that the city of the E·phesians is the temple keeper of the great Ar′te·mis and of the image that fell from heaven? 36 Therefore since these things are indisputable, it is becoming for YOU to keep calm and not act rashly. 37 For YOU have brought these men who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38 Therefore if De·me′tri·us and the craftsmen with him do have a case against someone, court days are held and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges against one another. 39 If, though, YOU are searching for anything beyond that, it must be decided in a regular assembly. 40 For we are really in danger of being charged with sedition over today’s affair, no single cause existing that will permit us to render a reason for this disorderly mob.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.