(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis
FROM:           Russell Hendel (rjhendel@juno.com)
DATE:           Sun, 27 Oct 1996
SUBJECT:        Re: Questions on Evil

The interpretation of Is45:7 "Who fashions Light and creates Darkness,
Making peace and creating evil" has challenged many Biblical interpreters.

To properly interpret it we first review the 7 basic meanings of the Hebrew
radicals ROA, RAAH, RAA: We claim the unifying theme is FRAGMENTATION.
This will not only help us interpret Is45:7 but also help us understand
the term "evil". Here are the 7 meanings:

(1) DEPRESSION is a state of emotional fragmentation. To (2) SHATTER
something is to fragment it. A (3) TERUAH is a fragmented trumpet blast.
(4) Grazing refers to a non-hurried, here-and-there, fragmented feeding
process. (5) A SHEPHARD is a person who works with pasture and (6)
FRIENDSHIP is simply a relationship where two people "shepard each other".
We would therefore suggest that (7) EVIL also refers to an emotional state
of fragmentation (and to the activites of such people)

This interpretation gives insight why when a person is RA--in a state of
fragmentation--- they do not e.g. have the capacity to say "this also is
for the good" since emotional fragmentation prevents such optimistic

The interpretation of Isa 45:7 can now be facilitated with the aid of 3
facts: (a) The rest of the paragraph In Is45 deals with "nations".(b)
dark/light can refer to types of people (e.g. Prv 22:29, Job 24:13)
(c) B'R'A', besides meaning creation can also mean "crystallizing",
bringing to light

We now interpret Is45:7 as follows:
...Who molds the open nations, ...who exposes/clarifies the activities
of the stealthy nations ...who straightens out the nations at peace
...who clarifies the state of the fragmented nations.

I hope this adds insight to this difficult verse.

Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, ASA rhendel @ mcs drexel edu