ca·lam·i·ty

noun
noun: calamity; plural noun: calamities
an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.

I know modern translations prefer to translate the Hebrew word “ra” as calamity…what do you say?

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Word Study Dictionary READS:

ra‛, ָרָעה

rā‛āh: An adjective meaning bad, evil. The basic meaning of this word displays ten or more various shades of the meaning of evil according to its contextual usage. It means bad in a moral and ethical sense and is used to describe, along with good, the entire spectrum of good and evil; hence, it depicts evil in an absolute, negative sense, as when it describes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:9; Gen 3:5, Gen 3:22). It was necessary for a wise king to be able to discern the evil or the good in the actions of his people (Ecc 12:14); men and women are characterized as evil (1Sa 30:22; Est_7:6; Jer 2:33). The human heart is evil all day long (Gen 6:5) from childhood (Gen 8:21); yet the people of God are to purge evil from among them (Deu 17:7). The Lord is the final arbiter of whether something was good or evil; if something was evil in the eyes of the Lord, there is no further court of appeals (Deu 9:18; 1Ki 14:22). The day of the Lord’s judgment is called an evil day, a day of reckoning and condemnation (Amo 6:3). Jacob would have undergone grave evil (i.e., pain, misery, and ultimate disaster) if he had lost Benjamin (Gen 44:34). The word can refer to circumstances as evil, as when the Israelite foremen were placed in a grave situation (Exo 5:19; 2Ki 14:10).

The word takes on the aspect of something disagreeable, unwholesome, or harmful. Jacob evaluated his life as evil and destructive (Gen_47:9; Num_20:5); and the Israelites considered the wilderness as a threatening, terrifying place. The Canaanite women were evil in the eyes of Isaac (i.e., displeasing [Gen 28:8]). The rabble’s cry within Israel for meat was displeasing in the eyes of Moses (Num 11:10). This word describes the vicious animal that killed Joseph, so Jacob thought (Gen 37:33). The despondent countenances of persons can be described by this word; the baker’s and the butler’s faces were downcast because of their dreams (Gen 40:7). It can also describe one who is heavy in heart (Pro 25:20).

In a literal sense, the word depicts something that is of poor quality or even ugly in appearance. The weak, lean cows of Pharaoh’s dream were decrepit, ugly-looking (Gen 41:3, Gen 41:20, Gen 41:27); poisonous drinking water was described as bad (2Ki 2:19; 2Ki_4:41). From these observations, it is clear that the word can be used to attribute a negative aspect to nearly anything.

Used as a noun, the word indicates realities that are inherently evil, wicked, or bad; the psalmist feared no evil (Psa 23:4). The noun also depicts people of wickedness, that is, wicked people. Aaron characterized the people of Israel as inherently wicked in order to clear himself (Exo 32:22). Calamities, failures, and miseries are all connotations of this word when it is used as a noun. (end quote)

Scriptural Quotations to Consider:

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Isaiah 45:7

KJV- I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

ESV- I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Lamentations 3:37-38

KJV- Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?

ESV- Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?

A Quotation from Gordon H. Clark:

The Scofield Bible is a good example of how Arminians try to escape from the plain meaning of the verse. Scofield says, “ra, translated ‘sorrow,’ ‘wretchedness,’ ‘adversity,’ ‘afflictions,’ ‘calamities,’ but never translated SIN. God created evil only in the sense that he made sorrow, wretchedness, etc., to be the sure fruits of sin.”

SCOFIELDNow the most remarkable point about Scofield’s note is that he told the truth when he said, “RA . . . [is] never translated sin.” How could he have made such a statement, knowing it was true? The only answer is that he must have examined every instance of RA in the Hebrew text and then he must have determined that in no case did the King James translate it sin. And this is absolutely true. But if he compared every instance of RA with its translation in every case, he could not have failed to note that RA in Genesis 6:5 and in a number of other places is translated WICKEDNESS. In fact RA is translated wickedness some fifty times. Scofield could not have failed to notice this; so he says with just truth, RA is never translated sin. Since Scofield favors the word EVIL, a partial list of verses in which this translation occurs will be given; and second there will be a partial list where WICKED or WICKEDNESS is used.

Going through the Bible, Scofield must have read as far as Genesis 2:9, 17; 3:5, 22; 6:5; 8:21; 44:4; 48:16; 50:15, 17, 20. “The knowledge of good and EVIL” is simply a knowledge of sorrow or calamity; it is primarily a knowledge of disobedience and sin. Similarly, Genesis 3:5, 22 refers as much to sin as to its punishment. In fact Genesis 3:22 hardly refers to punishment at all. True, Adam was banished from the garden; but the word EVIL in the verse refers to his disobedience and sin.

Whatever lame excuse can be given for excluding sin and retaining only punishment in the previous four verses, Genesis 6:5 is clearly and indisputably a reference to sin. God did not see “adversity” or “afflictions”; he saw sinful thoughts. RA, in this verse at any rate, means sin. The same is true of Genesis 8:21. In fact sin and its punishment are separated here. God will not again curse or smite, as he had just done, for man’s heart is evil. The flood was a punishment, but the evil was the sinful heart of man.

Toward the end of Genesis RA refers to an alleged theft, many sins from which the Angel had redeemed Jacob, and three times the brothers’ sin against Joseph. In 50:17 again the sin is easily distinguishable from the feared punishment.

Is it necessary to plod through all the Old Testament to show that RA often means sin as distinct from its punishment? It should not be necessary; but to show the pervasiveness of the doctrine and the perverseness of Arminianism, something from II Chronicles will be listed: 22:4; 29:6; 36:5, 9, 12. Ahab did EVIL in the sight of the Lord. Our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the Lord. Manasseh did evil in the sight of the Lord. He wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord. Jehoiakim did evil in the sight of the Lord. . . .

ra strongs

Evil, RA, is not once TRANSLATED sin. Very strange, but true.

Then there is Isaiah 56:2; 57:1; 59:7, 15; 65:12; 66:4. All instances of RA, or EVIL.

Now, if Scofield knew that RA was never translated SIN, he must have known that it was often translated WICKEDNESS. WICKEDNESS or WICKED, as the translation of RA occurs in Genesis 6:5; 13:13; 38:7; 39:9. Also in Deuteronomy 13:11 and 17:2. Also in I Samuel 30:22 and II Samuel 3:39. I Kings 2:44; Nehemiah 9:35; Esther 7:6, 9, 25. And Proverbs 21:12; 26:23, 26. Nor are these the only instances.

Scofield told the literal truth when he said it is never translated SIN. But nothing could be more false than his statement, “ God created evil ONLY in the sense that he made sorrow, wretchedness, etc., to be the sure fruits of sin.”

The scriptural meaning of the word RA, has now been abundantly made clear. But there is another point too. If RA means simply external calamities, then the word PEACE, which God also creates, can mean only military peace. The phrases are parallel. But this interpretation reduces the verse, or THIS PART OF THE VERSE, to triviality. Even verse one can hardly be restricted to purely political matters. Verse three speaks of treasures of darkness, hidden riches, and the knowledge of God. Jacob my servant and Israel my elect are not phrases to be restricted to politics and economics. Verse 6 speaks of the extension of the knowledge of God throughout the world. Then comes “I make peace and create evil.” Merely military peace? Not peace with God? The next verse speaks of righteousness dropping down from heaven, not like dew, but like pouring rain. Bring forth salvation, let righteousness spring up together. I the Lord have created it.

O, Arminian, Arminian, thou that distortest the prophets and misinterpretest them that are sent unto thee; how often have I told your children the plain truth . . . and ye would not let them understand!

There is still more in this chapter from Isaiah. Once again we find the potter and the clay. It indicates that God is not responsible to man. Woe to the man who complains that God has made him or anyone else a vessel of dishonor. The clay has no ‘rights’ against the potter. Nor does it have any free will to decide what sort of a bowl or jug it shall be.

Gordon H. Clark, Predestination, Presbyterian & Reformed, 1987, pp. 185-188

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