THE HOLY LAND
In a rented house in the Old City, the group quickly adapted
to their new surroundings. Because they had no interest in
proselytizing, they were warmly received by the local community,
among whom they soon began philanthropic work. Called the "American
Colony" by their neighbors, they sought to live a communal
life on the model of the early Christian church. Horatio
continued to search the Bible for guidance and for signs
of the end of time when Jesus Christ would reappear in Jerusalem.
Although the Colony was criticized and harassed by several
of the American consuls in Jerusalem for their seemingly
unorthodox religious life, the Colony survived and thrived
as a religious community.
Horatio Spafford to
Charles Piazza Smith,
May 27, 1887.
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Letter to Piazza Smith
Horatio met the Scottish astronomer, Charles Piazza
Smith, during a trip to London in 1870. Smith popularized
the idea that each measurement of every passage, chamber,
and gallery of the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt, indicated
a historical event or prophecy and elucidated many
mysteries referred to cryptically in the Bible. Horatio
and Anna's eldest daughter Bertha of their second set
of children, believed that Smith instilled in Horatio
an interest in the prophecies of the Old Testament
that profoundly influenced him to turn to the Holy
Land after he had suffered so many tragedies.
Our Rest and Signs of the Times
With a legal mind always searching for accuracy, Horatio
subscribed to this popular journal, which contained
in each issue "able articles on the Scientific and
religious features of the Great Pyramid of Egypt . . . ."
"The Great Pyramid of Egypt--The Mightiest Wonder
from Our Rest and Signs of the Times.
No. 11 (November 1882).
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American Colony. [Jerusalem].
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Prophetic Map of Jerusalem, ca. 1895
Searching the Bible, especially the Old Testament,
for prophetic insight, members of the American Colony
drew the boundaries of a future Messianic Jerusalem
based on verses from the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah:
'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when
this city [Jerusalem] will be rebuilt for me from
the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. The measuring
line will stretch from there straight to the hill
of Gareb and then turn to Goah. The whole valley
where the dead bodies and ashes are thrown . . .
will be holy to the Lord. . . .'
Horatio's Bible and the Prayer of the
In May 1882, the Spaffords met a group of impoverished
Yemenite Jews recently arrived in Jerusalem. The Yemenites
had come from their homes in southern Arabia because
they believed that the time was right after thousands
of years to return to the land that had been Israel.
Impressed by their sincerity and claim to be descendants
of Gad, a founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel,
the Spaffords housed and fed them until they could
establish themselves in Jerusalem. In appreciation
the Gadites bestowed a blessing on the Spaffords, which
was recorded in Horatio's Bible.
London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.
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An Appeal to Theodore Roosevelt and Appleton's
In March 1906, the American Colony petitioned President
Roosevelt to address the malfeasance of the American
consul of Jerusalem, Selah Merrill, who had also "slandered
[the Colony] in the vilest manner." Over the years,
the Colony had already lodged several formal complaints,
in vain, about the actions of Merrill and another consul,
Edwin Wallace. The publication of an article in the
popular Appleton's Magazine, whichpraised
the Colony for its good works and Christian spirit
and condemned the actions of the consuls, was the catalyst
that finally led to the Colony's total vindication.
American Colony to Theodore
March 6, 1906.
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Alexander Hume Ford.
"Our American Colony at Jerusalem"
in Appleton's Magazine, Vol 8., no. 6 (December 1906).
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