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Bible Lexicons

Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament


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The word generally used for evil and wickedness is ra (רע ), which appears to signify breaking up, or ruin. The LXX rendering for it is usually κακός or πονηρός. It is one of those words which binds together in one the wicked deed and its consequences. It is evil as opposed to good in Genesis 2:17, al. It is rendered calamity in Psalms 141:5; distress in Nehemiah 2:17; adversity in 1 Samuel 10:19, Psalms 94:13, and Ecclesiastes 7:14; grief in Nehemiah 2:10, Proverbs 15:10, Ecclesiastes 2:17, Jonah 4:6; affliction in Numbers 11:11, and ten other passages; misery in Ecclesiastes 8:6; and in Genesis 40:7, Nehemiah 2:1-2, Ecclesiastes 7:3; sorrow in Genesis 44:29, Nehemiah 2:2; trouble in Psalms 41:1, and eight other passages; sore in Deuteronomy 6:22, and eight other passages, noisome in Ezekiel 14:15; Ezekiel 14:21; hurt in Genesis 26:29, and twenty-eight other passages; heavy in Proverbs 25:20; vex in Numbers 20:15, and 2 Samuel 12:18; wretchedness in Numbers 11:15; also harm, ill, and mischief in almost every place where these words are found in the A. V.

These passages sometimes imply injury done to a person, but do not touch up on its moral aspect. this is to be borne in mind as we read Isaiah 45:7, 'I create evil,' and similar verses in other cases, however, this element is introduced in Judges 11:27, we read, 'I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me;' here the wrong or injury is regarded as an injustice. Again, in 1 Samuel 17:28, 'I know thy pride and the naughtiness of thy heart,' moral evil seems to be intended. The word is also rendered 'naught' or 'naughty' in 2 Kings 2:19, Proverbs 20:14, and Jeremiah 24:2; but in these passages naughty has its original sense of 'good for nothing,' a sense in which the word is still used in some parts of England. Perhaps this was all that was implied in Eliab's rude speech to David.

Ra is rendered wicked a great many times; it is also frequently rendered bad, but in the latter class of passages that which is injurious is referred to rather than that which is morally evil. Ra, in fact, generally indicates the rough exteri or of wrong-doing, as a breach of harmony, and as a breaking up of what is good and desirable in man and in society. Whilst the prominent characteristic of the godly is lovingkindness, one of the most marked features of the ungodly man is that his course is an injury both to himself and to every one round him.

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Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Evil'. Synonyms of the Old Testament.
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