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The Universal God

The Book of Isaiah contains the words of two or more prophets, the first of whom was a man named Isaiah who lived in Jerusalem during the 8th century BCE, when Assyrian military expansion threatened the very existence of the kingdom of Judah.

Rather than seeing his nation's vulnerability as a sign that Judah's national deity was weak, Isaiah sees in his nation's god a universal, omnipotent deity whose power extends beyond Judah's borders. His was one of the earliest expressions of a concept that would become central to Jewish belief.

Your country lies desolate,
   your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
   aliens devour your land;
   it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. . . .

If the Lord of hosts
   had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
   and become like Gomorrah. . . .

In days to come
   the mountain of YHWH's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
   and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
   Many peoples shall come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of YHWH,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths."

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
   and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations
   and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
   and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more.