Yehowists (also Yehowist-Ilyinites, Ilyinists, Ilyintsy , Jehovists, Sect of the Right-hand Brotherhood, The Message of Zion, Russian: Ильинцы, секта десного братства, иеговисты, еговисты, Сионская весть) is a Russian millenarian religious movement founded and led by retired army officer and religious thinker Nikolai Ilyin in the 1840s.


Yehowist theology

Yehowists are strict dualists and believe in the ongoing struggle between two Gods who are equally strong and mighty, Yehowah and Satan. According to Ilyin, both Gods once were men, and attained godhead through self-perfection. Yehowah revealed himself to men a number of times throughout human history. According to Ilyin, Yehowah is only the God of the Solar System, particularly, the planet Earth. Outside the Solar System there are other gods, but they are of no interest to humans, since they have their own realm of power and responsibility, and do not interfere with terrestrial affairs. At the same time the local god Jehovah is depicted as one of the inhabitants of the Earth, only incomparably wiser and stronger than mortals. Ilyin wrote: “my GOD walks on Earth, and visits HIS friends, and has supper with them, just as HE visited Abraham and had supper with him under the oak tree, …visited Melchizedek, Job, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Balaam and Mohammad.”[1]

Yehowists believe that Jesus was in fact Yehowah, who was crucified, died, and rose from the dead. The last prophet of Yehowah was Nikolai Ilyin, who proclaimed Yehowah's will in numerous books, brochures, and letters. Since the last will of Yehowah was declared in the Russian language, that language became the sacred tongue instead of Hebrew. "Yehowists must trust YEHOWAH’s words that in HIS Millennial Kingdom… instead of the ancient Hebrew language there will be Russian."[2]

Yehowists regard the books of the Jewish and Christian Bible as distorted by Satan and therefore unreliable. Instead, they consider the Apocalypse, or The Book of Revelation to be the only trustworthy book of the Bible. In addition, they see numerous writings by Ilyin as sacred writings.

Ilyin pronounced prophesies regarding fates of the nations and predicted coming apocalyptic events. Speaking of the tribulations of the end times, Ilyin said: “[Satan] will start to spread his hellish power with fearful bloodshed and tortures over all men and use them as cannon fodder, and in particular, will cause a horrible ruin to those living in the Turkish Empire, on the Balkan Peninsula, in Jerusalem, and in the Caucasus,”[3] or, in another booklet: “first, [i.e. before the tribulation] YEHOWAH will bring down cannon fire on Germany.”[4]

The personal goal of men, according to Ilyin, is bodily immortality, which is attained by trusting the words of Yehowah and following his rules. At the end of time Yehowah will overcome Satan and establish his one thousand year long reign on the renewed Earth. Jerusalem, the future centre of the Jerusalem Republic, as Ilyin calls it, will be inhabited by Yehowists and others, who will be granted immortality by Yehowah. The living standards in the Republic are expected to be the highest, there will not only be no more death, but also illness will never fall upon the citizens of the Republic.

Jerusalem will be surrounded by 24 kingdoms of so called “people of the right hand,” an allusion to Matthew 25:34. Under people of the right hand Ilyin meant those who lived righteously without being aware of his teaching, and those who provided services to Yehowists and himself without joining his community. Those kingdoms are supposed to encompass the rest of the world. The life in those kingdoms will likewise drastically change for the better. There will be no death, and, although illnesses might occur, the right hand people will be able to cure those using leaves from the Jerusalem trees supplied to them by the dwellers of Jerusalem.[5]

Yehowist Worship

Yehowists rest on the 7th day of the week (Saturday) and keep kosher diet. They do not celebrate any religious holy days except the Sabbath.

Worship meetings of Yehowists take place on Saturdays in private homes of believers. Often those who live at a distance from the meeting site, have to travel long hours in order to attend a worship meeting. In such cases believers may arrive on Saturday eve, stay overnight with local co-religionists and then spend the whole Sabbath in fellowship and socializing with others.

The material object of worship is a Star of David with the name of YEHOWAH written inside it in Hebrew letters. Incense is used at the meeting.[6]

The Yehowist Brotherhood

The Yehowist Movement (frequently referred to by its members as Brotherhood) continues to exist in parts of the former Soviet Union, particularly in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Southern Russia, and Ukraine.[7] Most Yehowists are ethnic Russians, although the percentage of non-Russian members is growing due to conversion.

Yehowists-Ilyinites are active in spreading the message of Ilyin through printed and electronic media. Ilyin's works have been reprinted in various languages and the group maintains a multi-language (Russian, English, Hebrew, German, and Kyrgyz) website.[8]


  1. ^ Nikolai Ilyin, Prizyv vsekh liudei k bezsmertiiu (A Call of All People to Immortality) (Privately printed, n.d.), 7.
  2. ^ Nikolai Ilyin, Chudo-knizhka (The Wonderbook) (Privately printed, n.d.), 14.
  3. ^ Nikolai Ilyin, Vtoroi glas Poslannika ot EGOVY (The Second Call from YEHOWAH’s Messenger) (Privately printed, n.d.), 2. English translation available online at
  4. ^ Nikolai Ilyin, Vopros ko Vsemirnomu Svetiteliu Ilii (A Question to the Universal Enlightener Elijah) (Privately printed, no publication data, written in 1888), 2.
  5. ^ This story is reiterated almost invariably in most Ilyin’s books. See, for instance, Razsvet nad Erusalimom (Dawn over Jerusalem), 10-11.
  6. ^ Sergey V. Petrov “Jehovists-Il’inites. A Russian Millenarian Movement.” Nova Religio 9, no. 3 (March 2006): 80-91. See abstract online at
  7. ^ Дмитрий Таевский. История религии. - Иеговисты-ильинцы (Десное братство, Сионская весть)
  8. ^ The Universal Truth at

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