[b-hebrew] origin of evil

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Sep 6 19:21:57 EDT 2006


Dear Liz,

>The Jewish view  is expressed in Isaiah. Christians call it "radical
>monotheism," but Jews just call it monotheism. According to Isaiah, God does
>create both darkness and evil. Christians worry about how a good god can
>create evil. This issue I think arrives with Plato, Aristotle, and
>Hellenism. I don't think it pertains to Oriental thought. The Hebrew Bible
>does not whitewash this by claiming that evil must really be good if it
>caused by God. 
>
>Isaiah 45:5-7  (speaking to Cyrus).
> I am YHWH, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you,
>though you do not know me,  so that they may know, from the rising of the
>sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am YHWH, and there
>is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make
>peace/health/well-being (shalom) and create evil (ra'); I YHWH do all these
>  
>

HH: The Hebrew word translated "evil" in this verse can simply mean 
something like "calamity," which is what the context suggests. Modern 
translations  render it that way:

New International Version:  Is. 45:7 I form the light and create 
darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all 
these things.

New Revised Standard Version: Is. 45:7  I form light and create 
darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the LORD do all these things.

New Living Translation: Is. 45:7  I am the one who creates the light and 
makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, 
the LORD, am the one who does these things.

New American Standard Bible: Is. 45:7  The One forming light and 
creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the 
LORD who does all these.

Holman Christian Standard Bible: Is. 45:7 I form light and create 
darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these 
things.

HH: The Hebrew Bible says that God can't even look with approval at 
moral evil:

Hab. 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate 
wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent 
while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

HH: Here the same Hebrew word for "evil" clearly refers to moral evil, 
to what is wrong.

Yours,
Harold Holmyard







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