[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 45, Issue 13

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Sep 8 17:35:20 EDT 2006


One of the things I run into is that in order to analyse a verse
properly, one must first make sure that one has a proper understanding
of the words used. This is where I find this thread going on and on
without asking if the right words are being used.

When looking at R( and R(H in Hebrew, while it describes something
that is certainly displeasing, it is not something that is necessarily
evil. "Evil" in English necessarily includes a moral aspect, while in
Hebrew R( has the moral aspect as an option, depending on the context.
For example, in Genesis 37:20, the "evil animal" is not morally
wicked, rather it acted out its instincts (had that story been true),
making "evil" an incorrect translation of the term. It appears that
there is no term in English that corresponds exactly to the Hebrew R(.

In looking at the uses of the word, its semantic domain appears to lie
between displeasing to harmful with the moral aspect optional.

Looking at Isaiah 45:7, "Former of light and creator of darkness,
maker of fullness and creator of harm ..." is probably the most
linguistically accurate translation.

If God did not create the division between light and darkness, there
would be no darkness, so in that way God created darkness. That which
is displeasing to harmful can be used in the hands of a loving parent
as a means of training a child, such as a spanking or scolding. We are
not forced by the terms used in the Hebrew language to entertain the
idea that God is the source of moral evil, that is only an
interpretation that many of us are free to reject without violating
the text.

Karl W. Randolph.

On 9/8/06, Blankinship, Benjamin <bla26 at co.henrico.va.us> wrote:
> > This is what I mean by denying the plain meaning of the
> > biblical text to get it to conform to some preconceived
> > notion of what God is like, or what the world is like. An
> > all good god can't make darkness or evil, no matter what
> > the biblical text says, so let's just make it say something
> > different from what it actually says.
> Rather than arguing my original point (which is off-topic, as well as
> relatively trivial), let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with this
> excerpt from yours. That's why I started reading this list. I have a
> pretty good idea of the major streams of Christian thought, but I find
> Jewish perspectives extremely helpful, because many Christians will
> twist the Hebrew scriptures to force them into alignment with later
> ("new testament") writings. Having been educated entirely in the
> Christian tradition, I don't really know where that tradition is
> faithful to the Hebrew scriptures and where it manipulates them. But I
> certainly want to learn the difference.
> > ...   the Talmudist, whoever it was who said "These and
> > these are the words of the living God," even tho they
> > disagree.
> Those are always there areas where we learn the most, aren't they?
> --
> Ben B

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