International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ev'-'-l, e'-vil ra`; poneros, kakos, kakon:
In the Bible it is represented as moral and physical. We choose to discuss the subject under these heads. Many of the evils that come upon men have not been intended by those who suffer for them. Disease, individual and national calamity, drought, scarcity of food, may not always be charged to the account of intentional wrong. Many times the innocent suffer with, and even for, the guilty. In such cases, only physical evil is apparent. Even when the suffering has been occasioned by sin or dereliction of duty, whether the wrong is active or passive, many, perhaps the majority of those who are injured, are not accountable in any way for the ills which come upon them. Neither is God the author of moral evil. "God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man" (James 1:13).
1. Moral Evil:
By this term we refer to wrongs done to our fellowman, where the actor is responsible for the action. The immorality may be present when the action is not possible. "But if that evil servant shall say in his heart" (Matthew 24:48, 49), whether he shall smite his fellow-servants or not, the moral evil is present. See SIN. "All these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:21-23). The last six commandments of the Decalogue apply here (Exodus 20:12-17). To dishonor one's parents, to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to bear false witness and to covet are moral evils. The spiritual import of these commandments will be found in Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28. "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness" (Matthew 6:23). Words and deeds are coined in the heart before the world sees or hears them (Matthew 12:34, 35). The word ought or its equal may be found in all languages; hence, it is in the mind of all people as well as in our laws that for the deeds and words we do and speak, we are responsible. "Break off thy sins by righteousness" (Daniel 4:27) shows that, in God's thought, it was man's duty, and therefore within his power, to keep the commandment. "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well" (Isaiah 1:16 f). We cannot think of God commanding men to do what He knew they had no ability to do! God has a standing offer of pardon to all men who turn from their evil ways and do that which is right (Ezekiel 33:11-14 f). Evil begins in the least objectionable things. In Romans 1:18-23, we have Paul's view of the falling away of the Gentiles. "Knowing God" (verse 21), they were "without excuse" (verse 20), but "glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened" (verse 21). "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (verse 22). This led the way into idolatry, and that was followed by all the corruption and wrongdoing to be instigated by a heart turned away from all purity, and practiced in all the iniquity to be suggested by lust without control. Paul gives fifteen steps in the ladder on which men descend into darkness and ruin (Galatians 5:19-21). When men become evil in themselves, they necessarily become evil in thought and deed toward others. This they bring upon themselves, or give way to, till God shall give "them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Romans 1:28). Those thus fallen into habits of error, we should in meekness correct, that "they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will" (2 Timothy 2:25, 26).
2. Physical Evil:
Usually, in the Old Testament the Hebrew word ra` is employed to denote that which is bad. Many times the bad is physical; it may have been occasioned by the sins for which the people of the nation were responsible, or it may have come, not as a retribution, but from accident or mismanagement or causes unknown. Very many times the evil is a corrective, to cause men to forsake the wrong and accept the right. The flood was sent upon the earth because "all flesh had corrupted their way" (Genesis 6:12). This evil was to serve as a warning to those who were to live after. The ground had already been cursed for the good of Cain (Genesis 4:12). Two purposes seemed to direct the treatment: (1) to leave in the minds of Cain and his descendants the knowledge that sin brings punishment, and (2) to increase the toil that would make them a better people. God overthrew Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, cities of the plain, making them "an example unto those that should live ungodly" (2 Peter 2:6). In the Book of Isaiah the prophet, we find a number of "burdens": the burden of Babylon (Isaiah 13:1-22); the burden of Moab (Isaiah 15:1-9); the burden of Damascus (Isaiah 17:1-14); the burden of Egypt (Isaiah 19:1-17); the burden of the Wilderness of the Sea (Isaiah 21:1-10); the burden of Dumah (Isaiah 21:11, 12); the burden upon Arabia (Isaiah 21:13-17); the burden of the Valley of Vision (Isaiah 22:1-25); the burden of Tyre (Isaiah 23:1-18); the burden of the Beasts of the South (Isaiah 30:6-14); the burden of the Weary Beast (Isaiah 46:1, 2). These may serve as an introduction to the story of wrongdoing and physical suffering threatened and executed. Isaiah contains many denunciations against Israel: against the Ten Tribes for following the sin introduced by Jeroboam the son of Nebat; and the threatening against Judah and Benjamin for not heeding the warnings. Jeremiah saw the woes that were sure to come upon Judah; for declaring them, he was shut up in prison, and yet they came, and the people were carried away into Babylon. These were the evils or afflictions brought upon the nations for their persistence in sin. "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Yahweh, that doeth all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). These chastisements seemed grievous, and yet they yielded peaceable fruit unto them that were exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:11).
David Roberts Dungan
(ra` `ayin, "evil of eye"; ophthalmos poneros):
The superstition of the influence of the "evil eye," so widely spread over the earth, has had a mighty influence on life and language in Palestine, though direct references to it are not frequent in the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 15:9; Deuteronomy 28:54, 56 Proverbs 23:6; Proverbs 28:22 Matthew 20:15 (compare Matthew 6:23 Luke 11:34); Mark 7:22). In the Bible the expression is synonymous with envy, jealousy and some forms of covetousness. In comparing Romans 1:29 with Mark 7:22 we find that ophthalmos poneros corresponds to phthonos. See Trench, New Testament Synonyms, under the word The eye of the envious (as also the tongue of the invidious by an apparently appreciative word, which, however, only disguises the strong desire of possessing the object of comment or of destroying it for its rightful owner) was supposed to have a baneful influence upon the wellbeing of others, especially of children. Therefore mothers bestowed constant care against the frustration of such fancied designs by means of innumerable sorts of charms. They often allowed their darlings to appear as unlovely as possible, through uncleanliness or rags, so as to spare them the harmful rising of envy in the hearts of others.
Lane, Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, gives perhaps the most accessible account of this superstition as held at the present day in Egypt, and Thomson, The Land and the Book, does the same for Palestine, while an equal amount of evidence might be collected from every other oriental country. Instances of the same superstition, though possibly slightly disguised, are by no means wanting among ourselves. Compare the expression, "green-eyed jealousy" (Othello, III, iii; Merchant of Venice, III, ii), etc.
For certain Biblical phrases referring to the "evil eye" see ENVY; EYE.
F. T. Elworthy, The Evil Eye, London, 1895.
H. L. E. Luering
Nearly all peoples who have expressed their religious thought and feeling believe in a spirit that presides over the destinies of men for their good. They believe that there is also a spirit, a person, whose work it is to lead men into temptation: a spirit of light and a spirit of darkness. Feelings and preferences may have much to do with the conclusions. In Matthew 5:37, 39, 45; Matthew 6:13, the King James Version gives "evil," the Revised Version (British and American) "the evil one," margin, "evil," the personal form referring to the enemy of the race known by various terms: Satan, "the adversary" or "the accuser," occurs 50 times; Beelzebub is found 7 times; devil, 35 times; it means "accuser," "calumniator."
David Roberts Duncan
See DEMON; DEMONIAC; COMMUNION WITH DEMONS; SATAN.
(to kakon, plural in Luke 16:25):
An evil thing or evil things may be the thoughts of evil men, their plans or their deeds; or the things men suffer for their own wrongs; or the evils consequent upon the errors of others. In the dark picture of fallen men in Romans 1:30, "inventors of evil things" appear. "The evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil (poneros) things" (Matthew 12:35). Men should not lust after evil (kakos) things (1 Corinthians 10:6). This fixing the mind upon, with desire, leads to increased wrong. "The mouth of the wicked poureth out evil (ra') things" (Proverbs 15:28). The rich man had good things in his life, but did not use them to the glory of God or the good of men. The poor man had evil things: sickness, nakedness, hunger. The scene changes after death (Luke 16:25).
David Roberts Dungan
See EVIL-SPEAKING; SLANDER.
See SATAN; DEMON, DEMONIAC.
SPIRIT, UNCLEAN (OR EVIL)
See DEMON, DEMONIAC.