There was a sister I knew named Beulah growing up. I thought it a strange name, not being acquainted with it’s meaning.
Today I crossed a street I often cross—Beulah—and wondered what my parents think of when they see the name.
Nowadays I know the significance of the name. You see, this past year I started studying the bible—not “studying the bible” like Jehovah’s Witnesses do, studying the Watchtower’s publications and their interpretation of the bible, but actually reading and studying the bible.
I found it hard to just read the bible, as in read without interpretation, the scriptures. I was raised in the Watchtower Society, and reading the New World Translation meant walking down familiar pathways where I couldn’t see the forest for the trees of interpretation.
Thus, I took to reading a different version—and then multiple versions—and when I came to something that surprised me, I’d search out to see if these words in these versions were indeed true.
Reading Isaiah 62 was precisely one of these moments:
“And you will actually be called by a new name, which the very mouth of Jehovah will designate.” — Isaiah 62:2, NWT
Any long term Witness knows the scripture, and it’s application to our name being bestowed upon us in the fall of 1931.
Now, as I read from the American Standard Version which my mother suggests as it uses the name of God, I startle…
“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah; for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” — Isaiah 62:4, ASV
But… the name Jehovah designated for us, by his very mouth wasn’t “Hephzi-bah” or “Beulah”… in 1931, he gave us the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
The October 1, 1931 heralds Christ’s Presence, and “a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah” named:
Under the heading “A New Name” the resolution from the convention was printed:
As noted above, the new name “Jehovah’s witnesses” was supported by the scriptures below:
“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. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior. I myself have told forth and have saved and have caused [it] to be heard, when there was among YOU no strange [god]. So YOU are my witnesses,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I am God.” — Isaiah 43:10-12
“And the nations will certainly see your righteousness, [O woman,] and all kings your glory. And you will actually be called by a new name, which the very mouth of Jehovah will designate.” — Isaiah 62:2
“And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” — Revelation 12:17
Now, we come back to the beginning… When I came across the name, Beulah, that I recognized as the sister’s name I knew growing up, I was surprised… In context, Beulah is the name given to “The Bride of God”, Israel’s land, meaning “married”… and “the name designated by the very mouth of Jehovah” was not “Jehovah’s Witnesses” but rather “Hephzi-bah”, meaning “My Delight Is in Her”, and this is all in reference to the city of Jerusalem in the land of Israel.
I went to the Proclaimer’s book, How We Came to Be Known as Jehovah’s Witnesses (jv chap. 11 p. 156 ). The entry includes an excerpt from the original announcement in the September 15, 1931 Watchtower (image above), however, it is an edited excerpt—the Proclaimer’s book removes original scriptural references, and notes with an asterisk:
*Although the evidence points persuasively to Jehovah’s direction in selection of the name Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Watchtower (February 1, 1944, pp. 42-3; October 1, 1957, p. 607) and the book “New Heavens and a New Earth” (pp. 231-7) later pointed out that this name is not the “new name” referred to at Isaiah 62:2; 65:15; and Revelation 2:17, though the name harmonizes with the new relationship referred to in the two texts in Isaiah.
I was taught that Jehovah himself designated our name, making us his witnesses. It’s disconcerting to read “although the evidence points persuasively” as opposed to the definitiveness “a new name… the very mouth of Jehovah will designate.” Moreover, the assertion is that while “evidence points persuasively to Jehovah’s direction in selection of the name Jehovah’s Witnesses” that the scriptural references used to support the designation of that name were in error. But, does that mean God made a mistake? Or that he designated the name, but not the scriptures referenced in support of the name—or is it that although the evidence points persuasively, in actuality, Jehovah did not direct the selection of the name? (Jeremiah 5:31, 14:14, 23:21, cf. Acts 17:11)
As noted above, while the Proclaimer’s book includes the text from the resolution from the 1931 convention adopting the name Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s edited. The only scriptural reference included is Isaiah 43:10-12 with the footnote (above).
The October 1931 Watchtower presents Isaiah 62:2 as the primary reference for the new name (see herald image above).
Stranger yet, while the original announcement in the Watchtower, September 1931 (see my quick reference of original scanned older Watchtower publications which are available online at archive.org, the non-profit online digital library) also references Revelation 12:7, the Proclaimer’s book in the footnote instead references Revelation 2:7. Typo?—No, I don’t believe so. I don’t recall there ever being a typo I’ve found in the Watchtower publications.
I went back to the original article to see if the scripture was referenced besides the list of supporting scriptural references at the end of the resolution…
Revelation 12:7 as used in the 1931 announcement is an accurate reference—as well as Isaiah 62:2 which clearly does not refer to “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Revelation 2:7 was also found used in the same article as indication “that the anointed ones have received ‘the white pebble with the new name written therein'”, noting “Now by the Lord’s grace the anointed have a name that no others want.”
Now why would the Watchtower in it’s account of How We Came to Be Known as Jehovah’s Witnesses edit the references used in the original designation of the name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931, while maintaining that it was designated by the very mouth of Jehovah? Why cut the reference to Isaiah 62:2, and Revelation 12:7, and then address Revelation 2:7 in the footnote—which wasn’t even referenced in the edited excerpt from the original announcement included in the Proclaimer’s book?
Obviously Isaiah 62:2 was cut because the “new name, which the very mouth of Jehovah will designate” is proven by the scriptures not to be “Jehovah’s Witnesses” nor to refer to the members of nor the organization of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, rather to Jerusalem, and is the name “Hephzi-bah”.
The Proclaimer’s book ignores the reference in the list to Revelation 12:17: “And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” and instead redirect attention to Revelation 2:17 which refers to a new name given to those who overcome, although this is to point out that the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is not that new name.
The first group is distinctly identified by the inspired holy scriptures in Isaiah’s Prayer for Jerusalem:
Because I love Zion,
I will not keep still.
Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem,
I cannot remain silent.
I will not stop praying for her
until her righteousness shines like the dawn,
and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
The nations will see your righteousness.
World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
by God’s own mouth.
God will hold you in his hand for all to see—
a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”
and “The Bride of God,”
for God delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
They will be called “The Holy People”
and “The People Redeemed by God.”
And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place”
and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”