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Israelite House of David

Box 1967
Benton Harbor, MI 49023

The Israelite House of David was founded in 1903 by Benjamin Purnell (1861-1927), believed by his followers to be the seventh messenger of Revelation 10:7. Preceding Purnell were six other messengers beginning with Joanna Southcott. She was followed by Richard Brothers, George Turner, William Shaw, John Wroe and James Jershom Jezreel. While each of the messengers had their part to play in the "life-of-the-body," each was independent of the other and little of the writings of the former messengers is to be found in those of Brother Benjamin. Members of the Israelite House of David believe that in this present age the work of ingathering is occurring around the message of the seventh messenger (Gen. 49:10).

For several years, Purnell and his wife Mary travelled around the Midwest before finally settling in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1903. They purchased land and began the Israelite House of David. In 1907 an additional 30 acres were purchased and turned into an amusement park that opened in 1908 and for many years attracted people both from surrounding communities and far away. In 1914 the auditorium was built and lectures were regularly held there for visitors to the community.

In 1904 a cablegram was received from some members of the Christian Israelite Church (the church originally founded by John Wroe) in Melbourne, Australia. Having read some books by Purnell, they had accepted him as the seventh messenger spoken of in Revelation. They asked for instructions and in response, Purnell and several members of the House of David traveled to Melbourne and preached among the Christian Israelite Church centers. As a result, 85 people migrated to Benton Harbor and some members of the House of David stayed in Australia to become a permanent presence there.

The Israelite House of David considers itself a Christian organization founded upon the Scripture. It holds to the King James version of the Bible and Apocrypha insofar as Jesus quoted from it (the Book of Enoch and the books of Esdras). It is organized communally according to the Apostolic plan (Acts 2). Jesus is considered the members' Pattern and Waymark. The group is celibate and, following Jesus' example, have taken a Nazarite vow, hence they do not cut their hair. They are vegetarians and pacifists.

Purnell is identified as the seventh messenger. The new truths he brought include an identification of the true Israelites, who will be gathered from both Jews and Gentiles. Israel is the elect of the Jews and Gentiles who will be called out from among them. The elect are now and always have been scattered among all of the Christian denominations (a fact that leads members of the House of David to have a high regard for other churches). Purnell also asserted that Jesus Christ came to abolish death and that it was possible to attain bodily immortality (I Corinthians 15:23). They believe that salvation of the soul, as preached by most Christian groups, is a free gift of God, but by striving in this life, it is possible to never taste death.

The House of David is headed by a Board of Pillars that is assisted by an advisory board. There is an annual general assembly that elects both boards. After Purnell's death in 1927, there was a division in the membership and property, which was settled out-of-court.

Membership: In 2002 the group, once having an excess of 500 members, reported less than 60, some of whom still reside in Australia.

Periodicals: Shiloh's Messenger of Wisdom.

Remarks: The emergence of the Israelite House of David is difficult to understand without some knowledge of the prior movements that set the context for Purnell's ministry.

After the death of John Wroe, founder of the Christian Israelites, other leaders appeared in England to claim his followers. Among these were a Mr. and Mrs. Head, leaders of the New House of Israel. Another leader was James White, known to his followers as James Jershom Jezreel, a name derived from Hosea's son (Hosea 1:4,11). Jezreel was the author of a book, The Flying Scroll (Zech. 5:1). In it, he asked of himself if he was Shiloh, the son whom Joanna Southcott had awaited. He answered "No!" Rather, he identified Shiloh with the seventh angel of the Book of Revelation. Jezreel was the sixth angel. A seventh angel (messenger) was yet to come. Jezreel's message prepared the way for Benjamin Purnell.

The Flying Scroll was addressed to the ten lost tribes of Israel. In it, creation was described. When the world was made and Satan rebelled (Isaiah 14:12), some spirits joined him willingly and some joined him through ignorance; others remained loyal to God. All these spirits are on earth today. The first are redeemable; the second can be saved by repentance; the third will be rewarded by redemption of the body. They will escape death and reign with Christ as the 144,000 Israelites during the millennium. Jezreel's followers become known for their long hair, looped in back and tucked under violet caps.

In his ideas about God, Jezreel departed from his orthodox precedessors. He taught that the Great Father-Spirit descended on Christ at baptism and left him on the cross. Jezreel's main emphasis, however, was the Divine Mother. Drawing on a number of Biblical texts (for example Gal. 4:23), he talked of a Great Mother-Spirit who shall help men and women withstand Satan's power.

Among Jezreel's converts was Clarissa Rogers, a fifteen-year-old. In 1878, three years after her conversion, she declared a voice had told her to go to America; thanks to her beauty and zeal, many converts were won. A second trip, this time with Jezreel, was made in 1880. Progress was rapid until Jezreel died in 1885 and splintering began.

In Detroit, Michael Keyfor Mills, a Baptist businessman, was converted. He sold everything, sent his money to England, and began a career selling The Flying Scroll door-to-door. In 1891 he had a Spirit baptism experience in which he fell into a trance and, along with other unusual happenings, his beard fell to the floor. He arose from this trance believing it his duty as Michael the Archangel to gather the 144,000 for the battle of Armageddon mentioned in Revelation. His belief was strengthened by the discovery that he possessed the power of healing. He gathered the Jezreelites into a commune, with himself as leader.

Detroit was stirred by his miracles, but even more by his proclamation that as Eve had seduced Adam into sin, he would seduce women into virtue. He was arrested, and when he refused to explain his meaning, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment. After being released, he took what followers were left to England. Though not considered a messenger, Mills introduced Purnell to the movement.


Fogarty, Robert S. The Righteous Remnant. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1981.

Purnell, Benjamin. The Book of Dialogues. 3 vols. Benton Harbor, MI: Israelite House of David, 1912.

——. The Book of Wisdom. 7 vols. Benton Harbor, MI: Israelite House of David, n.d.

Thorpe, Francis. House of David Victory and Legal Troubles Reviewed. Benton Harbor, MI: The Author, n.d.

The What? Where? When? Why? and How? of the House of David. Benton Harbor, MI: Israelite House of David, 1931.


Israelite House of David as Reorganized by Mary Purnell

Box 187
Benton Harbor, MI 49023-0187

Following the death of Benjamin Purnell, co-founder with his wife Mary Purnell of the Israelite House of David, members were divided between their loyalty to Mary, and the prominent leader H. T. Dewhirst. Following her being locked out of some of the group's facilities, Mary Purnell filed suit. In 1930, an out-of-court settlement awarded Mary four argicultural properties, and monies to build new headquarters immediately east of the present House of David. With those in fellowship with her, Purnell formed a new community, the Israelite House of David as Reorganized by Mary Purnell.

Beliefs generally follow those of the Israelite House of David with the exception of the opinions held concerning the role of Mary Purnell. She is considered, together with Benjamin Purnell, the seventh messenger to follow the birth of Shiloh to Joanna Southcott in 1814. Her books are distributed, along with those of her husband, by the group. She died in 1953. Mary Purnell's reorganization is often referred to as the City of David to distinguish them from the House of David. Today, Mary's City of David is America's third oldest practicing Christian Community, and will celebrate its centennial in 2003.

The organization's Internet site is

Membership: There were less than 25 members in the 2001.

Educational Facilities: Mary's City of David Museum and Tours, opened in 1997.

Periodicals: The New Shiloh Messenger.


Adkin, Clare E. Brother Benjamin: A History of the Israelite House ofDavid. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1990.

Fogarty, Robert S. The Righteous Remnant. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1981.

Purnell, Benjamin. Shiloh's Wisdom. 4 vols. Benton Harbor, MI: Israelite House of David as Reorganized by Mary Purnell, n.d.

Purnell, Mary. The Comforter, The Mother's Book. 4 vols. Benton Harbor, MI: Israelite House of David, 1926.

Thorpe, Francis. House of David Victory and Legal Troubles Reviewed. Benton Harbor, MI: The Author, n.d.


Yahweh's New Covenant Assembly

PO Box 50
Kingdom City, MO 65262

Yahweh's New Covenant Assembly is a fellowship and ministry dedicated to a return, as closely as possible, to the true and pure teachings of the scriptures. Integral to that process is the adoption of the true name of the Heavenly Father, Yahweh, and of his Son, Yahshua, generally termed God and Jesus by most professing Christians. It is believed that the true names were hidden by misdirected Bible copyists and translators.

The assembly affirms that the Bible is inspired by Yahweh; the Father is the sole Master Designer of all creation, which was carried out by His son at the beginning of His creation; that Yahshua is the correct name of the savior (a contraction of the combination of "YAHweh" and "HoSHUA"); that He emptied Himself of His celestial glory and took upon Himself the form of a human, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was resurrected from the dead by the Father, and has now ascended into heaven sitting on the right hand of Yahweh. Yahshua is now considered humanity's advocate, mediator and high priest, and through Him only can we approach the Heavenly Father.

The assembly also affirms that the Holy Spirit (Ruach) is the invisible dynamic force, the mind, the power emanating from the Father and shared by the Son. This invisible essence or power is placed within the believer through the Son, by laying on of hands of the presbytery following baptism into Yahshua's saving Name. Correlative to this view of the Spirit, the assembly believes that the Trinity doctrine is not scriptural but is from paganism.

The assembly practices baptism as a single act of backwards immersion in water and into the saving Name of Yahshua as a necessary act of consecration. The assembly believes that Yahweh's grand plan of salvation for mankind is only through His Son Yahshua the Messiah and is revealed through observing Yahweh's holy Sabbaths and Feast Days. The seventh day of the week (called Saturday) is the day Yahweh has set apart, and is a memorial of His omnipotent creative power. The Sabbath day is a holy day of rest. The commemoration of the sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah is observed annually on the evening (beginning) of the 14th of Abib, as the 13th ends, according to the original Passover in Egypt when the death angel came over on midnight of the 14th.

After partaking of the Passover, members of the assembly strive to live a sin-free life of obedience in observing the following seven days of Unleavened Bread. Unleavened bread is eaten for these seven days, allowing members to symbolically take in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The day of Pentecost (Shavuoth) or Feast of Weeks is a Sabbath day and the third Annual Sabbath that is counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls during the days of Unleavened Bread. The Day of Trumpets, the fourth Annual Sabbath, begins the seventh month and is a holy convocation leading to the rejoicing upon the return of Yahshua at the last trump. The Day of Atonement, the fifth Annual Sabbath, points to Yahshua's atoning work. Historically it is the holiest day of the year.

The Feast of Tabernacles shows the righteous one-thousand-year reign of the soon-coming King Yahshua and is observed for seven days starting on the 15th day of the seventh month (Tishri 15 through 21). The first day is the sixth Annual Sabbath. The final culmination of the plan of Yahweh is completed in the great harvest. Known as the White Throne Judgment, it is prefigured by the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the seventh Annual Sabbath called the Last Great Day.

The assembly believes that the scriptural months are delineated by the appearance of the thin crescent of the visible new moon. Scripture indicates that the new moon days will begin from the actual area where the new moon is spotted for that particular month. The scriptural day begins and ends with sunset and will be kept in the Kingdom.

Assembly members consider it an act of worship to support the work with tithes (10 percent of one's income) and offerings.

The assembly believes that after death, human beings are unconscious in their graves in the sleep of death awaiting the resurrection. Immortality is something humans seek which is made available through the work of Yahshua. Humans do not have an immortal soul; they can die.

Yahshua the Messiah is the foundation and cornerstone of His Body–the ecclesia, the assembly–consisting of the called-out Body of believers since Pentecost of Acts 2, who have accepted the sacrifice of Yahshua and changed their lives according to Yahweh's word. The assembly trains and prepares believers for the coming Kingdom. In accordance with the custom of the early assembly in the Apostle Paul's time, the sisters of the assembly wear a headcovering during worship. On earth, males reflect Yahweh's glory and stand bareheaded before Him. Woman, on the other hand, is the glory of man and therefore is to have her head covered or veiled (katakaluptos).

Yahweh's New Covenant Assembly publishes numerous booklets on a wide variety of biblical subjects, especially Yahweh's name and the sabbath and Holy Days. It sponsors a TV show, "Back to the Truth," heard on stations across the United States. International offices are found in England, the Philippines, and on Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies.

The assembly's Internet site is at

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Light, YNCA Newsletter, Spice of Life, Young Believers.

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