The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. –Genesis 6:5
Dear members and friends,
Regarding the word “evil,” I found two definitions in my quick Google search: a manifestation of profound immorality and wickedness, especially in people’s actions; something which is harmful or undesirable. Simply put, evil could be defined as something that is profoundly immoral and/or harmful. However, the actual definition of what is evil can be very challenging and complex because the concept of evil has been developed and changed along with the flow of human history.
The simple assumption regarding the meaning of evil in the Bible is to apply it to something tremendously horrible or to equate it to Satan, whose existence is never confirmed in the Bible except in the book of Job. However, the Hebrew word ra which is translated as “wickedness” and “evil” in Genesis 6:5, seems to convey a broader meaning applicable to conditions of human life including: disagreeable, malignant, unpleasant, miserable, hurtful, ethically wicked, etc. In a way, what the Hebrew word seems to emphasize is the conditions that would cause humans to be unhappy. In other words, when God mentioned the word “evil,” it was to warn humans of the conditions and actions that would cause them perpetual unhappiness and misery, which in truth could have been what was meant by damnation. God warned humans of this consequence because God foresaw that some choices would lead humans into a perpetual hardship due to their pursuit of self-interest based on arrogant decisions.
By reflecting on this, we can understand that the misery and hardship in our lives is not due to damnation by God, but the result of our choices. To a degree, we are still choosing to perpetuate these hardships, miseries, and unpleasant conditions for the next generation. This chain will only be broken when each one of us stops blaming others for where and what we are and begin making choices that would lead to a more content and peaceful way of being and living.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee