[b-hebrew] origin of evil

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Sep 6 23:32:30 EDT 2006

I have been lurking on this subject, wondering which is the best time
to enter. We have finally gotten back to Hebrew language.

First of all, what is the meaning of R( רע?

It describes an action, not an object (unless you want it to refer to
an object that does the action).

It appears to be the antonym of +WB טוב which appears not to mean
"good", rather "pleasing" as it is used also to describe actions that
were not good, but pleasing to the people who do them (sort of like
stolen watermelon are the sweetest).

Therefore, as an antonym, its core meaning (remember, that is not
always the best way to translate it into English) seems to be
"displeasing", often used in a way synonymous with "evil" but not
always. Sometimes the displeasing is good, in the same manner as in
Proverbs 3:12 punishment and pain are signs of love.

As for "evil" per se, it appears connected with wickedness R$( רשע.

So in Isaiah where it says that God creates R( רע, this is displeasure
that may be for our good. Even calamities are allowed for reasons that
we do not understand.

Just my 2¢ on this issue.

Karl W. Randolph.

On 9/6/06, Harold Holmyard <hholmyard at ont.com> wrote:
> 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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