Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dr. Selah Merrill (1837-1909): Clergyman; Anti-Semitic U.S. Consul to Jerusalem

Dr. Selah Merrill

Dr. Selah Merrill was a virulent anti-semite who served as U.S. Consul to Jerusalem under three American Presidents. His views were instrumental in shaping the State Department’s infamous hostility to the presence of the Jewish people in the Holy Land.

Merrill was born in Canton Centre, Connecticut on May 2, 1837 and was a member of the fifth generation of the Merrill family in America. The Merrills were descended from an old Massachusetts family and his original immigrant ancestor was Nathaniel Merrill, who was one of the earliest settlers in Newbury, Massachusetts.

After graduating from Williston Seminary in Easthampton, Massachusetts, he studied at Yale College, but did not graduate. He studied theology at the New Haven Theological Seminary, graduating in 1863, and was ordained in the Congregational Church, at Feeding Mills, Massachusetts in 1864. He spent two years in Germany at the University of Berlin where he studied the ancient Hebrew language.

He served as a chaplain of the 49th U. S. Colored Infantry, also known as the 11th Louisiana Regiment Infantry, at Vicksburg, Mississippi from 1864 until the close of the Civil War.

From 1874–1877, he worked as an arch├Žologist in Palestine for the American Palestine Exploration Society, excavating the second wall of Jerusalem and trying to determine the site of Calvary.

He was a staunch opponent of the commune at the American Colony, Jerusalem and sought every opportunity to dismantle it. He also opposed Jewish agricultural settlement in Palestine. Merrill believed that the Jewish people didn't want land to colonize, but cities “where they can live on the fortunes or the misfortunes of other people.”

He also believed that there must have been some hidden justification for the persecution of the Jews in Russia, or the government would not have been so determined to get rid of them.

In 1872 and 1879, he taught at Andover Theological Seminary and became curator of the Biblical Museum there. In 1907 he served as American Consul at Georgetown, Guyana.

Merrill was the author of numerous books including, East of the Jordan, Ancient Jerusalem, Galilee in the Time of Christ, and The Site of Calvary.

He died at his sister's home in Fruitvale (now Oakland, California).

Sources: Jewish Post, Wikipedia, Find a Grave, Washington Post, NY Times

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