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The Armies of Gog, the Merchants of Tarshish, and the British Empire

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how the merchants of Tarshish embarked on an imperial adventure, and offers some reflection on the consumption of prophecy in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. The early and mid-nineteenth century in Britain witnessed a veritable flood of millenarian publications in the form of books, journals and pamphlets, along with numerous addenda, reviews and rebuttals. Eitan Bar-Yosef, in a 2003 study entitled 'Christian Zionism and Victorian Culture', makes a compelling case that despite the prevalence of millenarian beliefs and their elite origins, the cause of Jewish restoration was always seen as eccentric or marginal by the Victorian political mainstream. In Victorian England it did not take a great stretch of imagination to see Gog as Russia. Where our millenarians are more inventive is in the way they manage to bring the merchants of Tarshish from the margins of Ezekiel's prophecy into the centre of British imperial discourse.

Keywords: Christian Zionism; Eitan Bar-Yosef; Gog of Magog; Jewish restoration; Meshech; mid-nineteenth-century Britain; millenarian publications; Tarshish; Tubal; Victorian culture



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