Isaiah 45:7 Does God create evil? Is the King James Bible wrong or outdated?
There are many out there today on the internet and in the pulpits and seminaries (in fact, most Christians today fall into this category) who do not believe that ANY Bible in ANY language is the complete, inspired and 100% true Holy Bible. Instead, each one becomes his own final authority as he rummages through five or six different and contradictory versions picking out a phrase here or a verse there that he happens to “prefer” and then pieces together for himself his own peculiar version of his “Bible”.
It’s not that he believes that ANY of these conflicting “bibles” are the complete and infallible words of God. He doesn’t. But he has made his own mind and understanding his final authority and he feels free to “correct, change, alter, add to, omit from and re-translate” any Bible at any time, and they especially love to “correct” the Authorized King James Holy Bible.
In Isaiah 45:7 we read the LORD God of Israel saying: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the LORD do all these things.”
The Bible critic then goes on to tell us that the King James Bible is either wrong or misleading when it says that God creates “evil”. They then refer us to any number of modern versions (none of which they believe is the complete and 100% true words of God), which say something like “I bring prosperity and create DISASTER” (NIV, Holman Standard, ISV, Catholic New Jerusalem), or “causing well-being and creating CALAMITY” (NASB, NKJV, ESV, NET) or "I make well-being and create WOE" (St. Joseph NAB)
Along with the verse in Isaiah 45:7 they also criticize a couple other verses in the King James Bible that directly tie into this topic. In Lamentations 3:38 we read: “Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not EVIL and good?” and in Amos 3:6 we read: “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be EVIL in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”
Instead of assuming that the King James Bible translation is wrong, the typical Bible Corrector would be much better served by merely looking up the word “evil” in any good English dictionary or the Bible itself to learn more about his own native language. I have often found that simply learning a bit more about our own language goes a long way in clearing up many an alleged “error” in the King James Bible.
The various meanings of the word EVIL.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language defines evil in this way.
1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. CAUSING RUIN, INJURY, OR PAIN; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future MISFORTUNE; ominous: evil omens.
4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. THAT WHICH CAUSES HARM, MISFORTUNE, OR DESTRUCTION: a leader's power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. SOMETHING THAT IS A CAUSE OR SOURCE OF SUFFERING, INJURY, OR DESTRUCTION: the social evils of poverty and injustice.
The King James Bible itself has variously translated the underlying Hebrew word as “evil, wickedness, affliction, mischief, troubles, harm, adversity, sorrow, bad, ill and distress."
The NASB has translated this same word as “evil (136 times), bad, deadly, great, harm, miserable, misfortune, sore, trouble, ugly, wild, disaster and wretched”.
Likewise the NIV translates it as: “evil (190 times), wicked (24 times) bad, wrong, trouble, disaster, malice, wild, ugly, deadly, painful, ruin, ferocious, grievous, terrible, harm, great, sorrows, severe, unjust, vile, worse and wretched.”
You should take note of the significant fact that none of these Bible versions translates this Hebrew word as SIN.
God does in fact create and bring EVIL upon this world, either for punishment, judgment or correction. In the book of Job we read: “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive EVIL? (Job 2:10).
And in Job 42:11 we read: “Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over ALL THE EVIL THAT THE LORD HAD BROUGHT UPON HIM...” (So too read the NASBs of 1971, 1973 and 1977.)
God brings judgment upon His disobedient people in the book of Ezekiel saying: “And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this EVIL unto them.” (Ezekiel 6:10).
Evil = Wycliffe, Bishops' Bible, Geneva Bible, RV, ASV, Darby, Youngs, JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917, Hebrew Names Version, Amplified bible 1987, RSV, ESV 2001-2011, Common English Bible 2011, Lexham English bible 2012.
Again, in Jeremiah 15:7-9 we read: “Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward; therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting...I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways, Their widows are increased to me...I have brought against them..a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city...and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.”
And once more in 2 Samuel 12:11 we read God pronouncing evil upon David for his sins of murder and adultery: “Thus saith the LORD, Behold I will raise up EVIL against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.”
(Evil = Wycliffe, the Bishops' Bible, Geneva Bible, RV, ASV, NASB, JPS 1917, Amplified bible 1987, Darby, Youngs, Hebrew Names Version, Lamsa, RSV, Amplified bible 1987, Complete Jewish Bible 1998, ESV 2001- 2011, Lexham English Bible 2012)
The verses in Isaiah 45:7, Lamentations 3:38 and Amos 3:6 are correct and theologically sound. God does in fact create and bring evil upon this world or an individual whether for judgment, discipline or correction.
1 Kings 14:10 - "Therefore, behold, I will bring EVIL upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone."
1 Kings 21:21 - "Behold, I will bring EVIL upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel"
2 Kings 22:16 - "Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring EVIL upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read"
2 Chronicles 34:24 - "Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring EVIL upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah"
Lamentations 3:38: “Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not EVIL and good?”
So also read Wycliffe 1394, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Webster's translation 1833, Brenton's translation 1851, Lesser Bible 1853, Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, Noyes Translation 1869, the Revised Version 1881, Young's 1890, ASV 1901, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917, Hebrew Publishing Company Bible 1936, RSV 1952, 1971, Bible in Basic English 1961, World English Bible, The Word of Yah 1993, KJV 21st Century 1994, the Complete Tanach 2004, Third Millennium Bible 1998, Complete Apostles Bible 2005, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, J.P. Green's literal 2008, Bond Slave Version 2009, Concordant Literal Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, World English Bible 2012.
Amos 3:6: “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be EVIL in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”
So also read the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Webster's translation 1833, Lesser Bible 1853, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, Noyes Translation 1869, Darby 1890, the Revised Version 1881, ASV 1901, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, Hebrew Publishing Company Bible 1936, RSV 1971, the Complete Tanach, World English Bible 2000, Amplified bible 1987, The Word of Yah 1993, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, Third Millennium Bible 1998, Wycliff 2001 edition, Jubilee Bible 2010, Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, World English Bible 2012.
Isaiah 45:7 - "I make peace, and CREATE EVIL, I the LORD do all these things."
Not only does the King James Bible correctly read “I make peace, and CREATE EVIL, I the LORD do all these things.” but so also do the following Bible translations: the Wycliffe bible of 1395 - "makynge pees, and fourmynge yuel; Y am the Lord, doynge alle these thingis.", Douay-Rheims 1582, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Thomson Bible 1808, The Longman Version 1841, Brenton’s Translation 1851, the Boothroyd Bible 1853, the Calvin Bible 1855, the Lesser Bible 1853, Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, Noyes Translation 1869, the 1881 Revised Version, Webster's translation 1833, the Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, Darby 1890, Young's 1898, the 1901 American Standard Version, The Modern Readers Bible 1907, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, the JPS (Jewish Publication Society) 1917 translation, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company version, Douay Version 1950, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, the Amplified Bible 1987, A Conservative Version 2005, the 2004 Updated Bible Version, the 1994 KJV 21st Century version, Third Millennium Bible 1998, the 1998 Institute for Scripture Research Bible -"making peace and creating evil.", The Complete Tanach 2004 - "Who makes peace and creates EVIL, I am the Lord, who makes all these.", J.P. Green's Literal 2005, English Jubilee Bible 2010, the 2012 Lexham English Bible 2012 - "I make peace and I create EVIL."
Other English Bibles that say "I make peace, and CREATE EVIL, I the LORD do all these things." in Isaiah 45:7 are the Amplified Bible 1987, The Word of Yah 1993, The Koster Scriptures 1998, The Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, Context Group Version 2007, Bond Slave Version 2009, Online Interlinear Hebrew - Greek 2010 (André de Mol), Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - “I make shalom, and create EVIL”, Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, the Hebraic Roots Bible 2012, The New Brenton Translation 2012, The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, the Concordant Version 2012 "Maker of good and Creator of evil", the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2013 - "I make peace and create EVIL, I the LORD do all these things.", the Hebrew Names Version 2014 - "I make shalom and create EVIL"
The Complete Tanach Jewish Bible 2004 - "Who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and CREATES EVIL; I am the Lord, Who makes all these things."
The Jewish Virtual Library Tanach Full Text 1994 - "I make peace and create EVIL"
This Online Hebrew Interlinear - "I make peace and create EVIL."
The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - "I make peace and create EVIL"
The Jewish Publication Society Old Testament 1917 - "I make peace and CREATE EVIL"
The Hebrew Transliteration Bible 2010 - “I form the light, and create darkness: I make shalom, AND CREATE EVIL; I ADONAI (יהוה) do all these [things].”
The Hebraic Roots Bible 2015 - “making peace and creating EVIL”
The Greek Septuagint - “I am he that prepared light, and formed darkness; who make peace, and create evil; I am the Lord God, that does all these things.”
Foreign Language Bibles
Among foreign language translations that also have the LORD saying “I make peace and create EVIL” are the Latin Vulgate of 425 A.D. and the Clementine Vulgate - "formans lucem et creans tenebras, faciens pacem et creans malum: ego Dominus faciens omnia hæc.", Luther’s German translation of 1545 and the 2000 German Schlachter Bible - "der ich Frieden gebe und schaffe das Übel.", the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada em Portugués and the modern Portuguese Almeida - “eu faço a paz, e crio O MAL ”, the Greek Septuagint - "ὁ ποιῶν εἰρήνην καὶ κτίζων κακά" and the Modern Greek translation -- (ο ποιων ειρηνην και κτιζων κακον)- the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, Revisada 1865, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909 - “que hago la paz y crío EL MAL” , the Romanian Fidela Bible 2014, the Afrikaans Bible 1953, the Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible, The Czech BKR Bible, the Hungarian Karoli Bible, the Chinese Union Traditional Bible, the Finnish Bible 1776, the Russian Synodal Bible 1876 and the Italian Diodati of 1649 - “che fo la pace, e creo IL MALE”
John Gill - As Bible commentator John Gill remarks on Isaiah 45:7 - "evil" is also from him; not the evil of sin; this is of men, though suffered by the Lord, and overruled by him for good: but the evil of punishment for sin, God's sore judgments, famine, pestilence, evil beasts, and the sword, or war, which latter may more especially be intended, as it is opposed to peace; this usually is the effect of sin... all afflictions, adversities, and calamities, come under this name, and are of God.”
John Calvin likewise translates the passage into Latin with the same meaning found in the King James Bible - “faciens pacem, et creans malum” and then comments: “Fanatics torture this word evil, as if God were the author of evil, that is, of sin; but it is very obvious how ridiculously they abuse this passage of the Prophet. This is sufficiently explained by the contrast, the parts of which must agree with each other; for he contrasts “peace” with “evil,” that is, with afflictions, wars, and other adverse occurrences. If he contrasted “righteousness” with “evil,” there would be some plausibility in their reasonings, but this is a manifest contrast of things that are opposite to each other. Consequently, we ought not to reject the ordinary distinction, that God is the author of the “evil” of punishment, but not of the “evil” of guilt.”
Matthew Henry briefly comments: "I form the light, which is grateful and pleasing, and I create darkness, which is grievous and unpleasing. I make peace (put here for all good) and I create evil, not the evil of sin (God is not the author of that), but the evil of punishment."
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown comment: "Isaiah refers also to the Oriental belief in two coexistent, eternal principles, ever struggling with each other, light or good, and darkness or evil. God, here, in opposition, asserts His sovereignty over both; create evil--not moral evil (Jas 1:13), but in contrast to "peace" in the parallel clause, war, disaster (compare Ps 65:7; Am 3:6)."
Adam Clarke - “I make peace, and create evil - Evil is here evidently put for war and its attendant miseries. I will procure peace for the Israelites, and destroy Babylon by war. I form light, and create darkness. Now, as darkness is only the privation of light, so the evil of war is the privation of peace.”
J.B. Coffmann's commentary states: "The statement in Isaiah 45:7 that God creates evil should not be misunderstood. As Kidner pointed out, 'The Hebrew word (for evil) is too general a term to suggest that God is the author of wickedness. When God speaks of his creating evil here, he is speaking of the disasters and calamities that he brings upon the enemies of his purpose. 'This cannot mean that God creates moral evil, but it refers to the judgments God sends into history. He is speaking of the distress and disaster which men experience from God as a consequence of their sin (See Amos 3:6)."
The King James Bible is absolutely correct and theologically accurate AS ALWAYS for translating this passage in Isaiah 45:7 as “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
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