Question: Someone gave me this quote from an Artscroll Torah……Direct from Isaiah 45:7: "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things. "  I checked the translations that I am familiar with and none of them said "create evil" but he said "Ra" is never translated as disaster or calimity – it is always either bad or evil. common example – Yetzer HaRa – not an "inclination to do calmity, but inclination towards evil or badness.  My translations say otherwise…..I don’t get it! Are our texts different? Isaiah 45:7 NASB 7The One forming light and creating darkness,Causing well-being and creating calamity;I am the LORD who does all these.  NIV 7 I form the light and create darkness,I bring prosperity and create disaster;I, the LORD, do all these things. NKJV 7 I form the light and create darkness,I make peace and create calamity;I, the LORD, do all these things.’ HCS 7 I form light and create darkness,I make success and create disaster;I, the LORD, do all these things.


 Answer: A good rule of thumb, given the overwhelming evidence for the inspiration of the Bible, is that when we interpret difficult passages, we should assume that a difficult to understand passage should not contradict clear and well established doctrines in the Bible.   This is probably why the Bible translators have used words such as disaster or calamity rather than evil as the translation of ra.   Now, I am definitely not any sort of expert in the Hebrew language.  However, the Bible is clear that God does not create evil.  He has no part in evil.  It is no wonder that the biblical translators do not have God creating evil.  Another suggestion is to look at the Septuagint Greek translation of Isaiah 45:7. Here is the Septuagint. ego o kataskevasas fos kai poiisas skotos o poion eipivin kai ktison kaka ego kyrios o Theos o poiov tauta panta The meaning of the word ra is determined, not by any one commentator (such as the one you read who said it is always translated as evil, which is simply not true!) Below are some of the translation of ra in the Bible, according to BDB Biblical Hebrew Dictionary:

– evil (Gn.6.5)
– unpleasant, giving pain, misery (like in Gn.47.9 "days of trial and hardship", or Pr.15.15)
– distess, misery, calamity (Nu.11.1, Ex.5.19, Gn.48,16)
– sad, unhappy (Pr.25.20)
– vicious, unkind (Pr.26.23)
– wicked (Ec.12.14)
etc., etc  So, the translation of the word depends on the context.  The person who says it always means “evil” almost certainly has an ax to grind and is not to be trusted as an unbiased person. Passages which show God does not create evil include: James 1:14-151 John 1:5   and many more. John Oakes, PhD  

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