Pre-exilic times (Jer 25:1-25:1)

“This is the word

That came to Jeremiah

Concerning all the people of Judah,

In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah,

Of Judah.

This was the first year

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.”

This oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah about Judah is set in a very specific time frame. This was the 4th year of the rule of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim, around 605 BCE. This was also the first year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, after his victory of Pharaoh Neco of Egypt during the same year, 605 BCE. Thus, this preceded any of the exiles from Judah.

Yahweh accepts the proselyte foreigners (Isa 56:6-56:8)

“Foreigners join themselves to Yahweh.

They minister to him.

They love the name of Yahweh.

They want to be his servants.

They keep the Sabbath.

They do not profane it.

They hold fast to my covenant.

‘I will bring these to my holy mountain.

I will make them joyful

In my house of prayer.

Their burnt offerings,

With their sacrifices

Will be accepted on my altar.

My house shall be called

A house of prayer

For all people.’

Thus says Yahweh God!

He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

‘I will gather others to them,

Besides those already gathered.’”

Third Isaiah keeps the universal theme alive. He has Yahweh extend a hand to the proselytes, those people who were not originally Israelites but joined their religious community. In pre-exilic times, they would have been excluded from the community. These foreigners are the ones who have joined themselves to Yahweh, the Lord. They have ministered to him and want to be his servants. They love the name of Yahweh and hold fast to his covenant. Yahweh will bring them to his holy mountain where they will be joyful in his house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on his altars. No longer is the Temple a place for clean Israelites, but all the people are invited to Yahweh’s house of prayer. Yahweh, the Lord God, has gathered all the outcasts of Israel, but he has also gathered other believers who were not Israelites.