[b-hebrew] Is.45:7 God created evil?

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Aug 4 18:04:31 EDT 2005

Dear Chris,

>Such a change might seem useless _to you_. But what about _to the 
>Chronicler_? By substituting the common noun "an adversary" for 
>"YHWH," and dropping the direct quotation, wouldn't this allow the 
>Chronicler to "soften the blow" a little bit? He maintains the story 
>he has received in the (written!) tradition, but now avoids depicting 
>God as giving David a _direct order_ to do something for which God 
>then punishes David. _If_ the Chronicler is using _satan_ as a common 
>noun, he can "spin" this as a "test" (the Chronicler does not use 
>that word, AFAICR) which David could potentially have "passed" by 
>resisting the temptation. But in Samuel, David cannot get out of the 
>census without _disobeying_ God flatly, so David is in an absolute 
>bind. Now again, I want to repeat, I don't _know_ that this is what 
>is going on, and I don't think I have done the groundwork to even 
>start to _demonstrate_ it. I am just thinking "out loud" (well, er,
>visually in this medium I guess).

HH: The Chronicler relied on the documents in 1 & 2 Samuel, or to 
sources from which 1 & 2 Samuel derived. So any reader would or could 
discover that the "adversary" was God. All the Chronicler would have 
done was obscure the truth, which the reader could eventually 
discover anyway and still be left with the same theological issue. It 
seems much more helpful that he clarified how God was acting only 
indirectly through His providential permission of Satan's action. The 
Chronicler made plain what the reader of 2 Samuel was supposed to 
understand, that God is sovereign over all that happens, however it 
happens. The words "God did such and so" allow for secondary agency 
and even secondary will. By changing "God" to "Satan" the Chronicler 
shed spiritual light on a text (1 Samuel 24) that required some 
sophistication to read properly.

HH: The text in 2 Samuel obliges one to insert an agency like Satan, 
even though it is not stated. For God could hardly command someone 
directly to do something and then punish him for doing it (2 Sam 
24:13-17). And David could easily have exonerated himself on the 
grounds of obedience if God had directly commanded him to act, but 
instead he feels guilt (2 Sam 24:10). He feels he has sinned (v. 17), 
acting contrary to God, not in obedience to Him. What is implicit in 
the Samuel account is made explicit by the Chronicler.

					Hariold Holmyard

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