Jerusalem, 1872

Jerusalem was the city which the Lord did choose to place his name there. He loved the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. But while the land has been defiled, and the people have been scattered abroad, these gates have long fallen, and Zion has often been filled with judgment. The tomb of David stands without the wall of the present city ; but the palaces of Jerusalem have disappeared from Mount Zion. Not a vestige of its bulwarks that long withstood Roman hosts remains ; and the city of David that stood on Zion, has wholly vanished, as if that site of Israelitish royalty, like Samaria the other, had never been reclaimed from the plough. Only a small portion of the mount is now enclosed within the walls of the modern Jerusalem ; and Mount Zion may now be seen, as each successive traveller can testify, as the prophet saw it in vision, ploughed as a field, (see frontispiece.) In other places throughout the land, grain is sown around closer and larger olives than those of Zion as it is among them, while many open spaces or fields are there given up entirely to the plough. “At the time I visited this sacred ground,” says Dr Richardson, “one part of it supported a crop of barley, another was undergoing the labour of the plough, and the soil turned up consisted of stone and lime mixed with earth, such as is usually met with in the foundations of ruined cities. It is nearly a mile in circumference. We have here another remarkable instance of the special fulfillment of prophecy ; therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field” (Richardson’s Travels, p. 349 ; Mic. iii. 12). Zion testifies against her children. On his first visit to Zion, the writer of these pages, together with his friends, gathered some ears of barley from a field that had been ploughed and reaped : but, on the last, we saw the plough, as in any other field, actually cleaving the soil of Zion.

And the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest (Jer. xxvi. 18). Jerusalem lay in heaps, after it was besieged, taken and destroyed by the Chaldeans, and also by the Romans. To this day the mosque of Omar may be seen, as in the plate, as the crescent of Mohammed towers over it, where the nobler temple of Solomon stood in its glory. The mountain of the house, with its trees around it, may still be said to be “as the high places of a forest,” devoted as it is, as were they, to the cause of false religion, and not to the worship of the Holy One of Israel. But the words of truth immediately subjoined to these denunciations of the prophet, tell of other times than these in which many a cresent, as now, glitters over it, in token that Jerusalem is still trodden down of the Gentiles. But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills ; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob (Mic. iv. 1,2 ; Isa. ii. 2,3).

Rev Alexander Keith. Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion Derived from the Literal Fulfilment of Prophecy: Particularly as Illustrated by the History of the Jews and by the Discoveries of Recent Travellers, 39th edition, 1872, pages 256


  1. Reading your “Jerusalem 1872” I just had to get out my copy of “Signs of the Times” by Alexander Keith and leaf through it again. It all seems so long ago and dusty! Like a faded photograph.Yet at that time the doctrine of the Second Coming was so exciting –conferences,papers,books galore. It certainly was a important issue in Britain and America.This was the time of the William Miller lectures in New England that led to an Advent Movement.It seems strange that the rapturist ideas of the obscure J.N. Darby should take over the historicist view of prophecy. It is interesting to consider how these interpreters saw the Muslims as revealed in the prophecies!

  2. Yes, I really don’t understand why the Darby stuff took off like it did (though I suspect it was the later publication of the Scofield Bible that really spread the ideas). Rapturism taking up historicist interpretations of the prophecies is not too surprising, as this had been the preferred method of the Reformers, of course. Also, the historicist take on prophecy and eschatology was exceedingly popular at the time, judging from the multiple editions of Keith’s Evidence… (I think the 37th was the last edition, though a niggling thought tells me it might be 39 total) and Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae (4 volumes in 5 editions, each volume about twice as big in the fifth over the first edition, with footnotes to footnotes!), both wildly popular, though the two scholars were quite different. Keith, I think, was better known, and critical of Elliott (I read a letter of response, kind of a review, published by Keith about Eliott’s HA, which now I’ll have to look around for again), though the issues between the two are elusive. This historicist approach is fascinating, and one of the reasons that I find Victorian Era apocalypticism to be such a diverting subject. Particularly in these two authors, Keith and Elliott, and especially the latter, you find all the reasoning behind the historicist interpretations, the sandbags behind the scrim, so to speak. It’s fascinating, and weird, and often increedibly inventive, but at the same time somewhat disturbing, that such obviously excellently educated and very intelligent men could be susceptible to such bizarre lapses of judgment in not just their individual interpretations, but also in their wholesale acceptance of the historicist framework itself.

    The period’s fascination with the “Sick Man of Europe,” Turkey, and Islam is also gaining more attention these days, not too surprisingly. One of the first reasons I picked up Keith’s Evidence… and Signs of the Times was precisely because I’d read about his unusual interpretation of various propheccies related to Islam, which interpretations had previously been common in the aftermath of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, and the subsequent reaction of Western Europe to a resurgent Islam for the next hundred years or so. Much of the interpretations relating to Islam were already established in the Reformation period, when the Turks were still menacing Europe.

    Anyhow, I get a kick out of these. I’m glad you enjoy them, too!

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