In my last blog, I talked about different ways of thinking of evil, as defined through Aramaic interpretation. I didn’t relate it to evil spirits. Pictures like the one here make it hard to reduce your image that evil might not be as insidious as it sounds. But we tend to go to the extremes when emotion gets involved.
The Hebrew word for evil (‘ra) means several things, ranging from the opinion that something is bad (like fruit that has rotted); displeasing (as in a woman in the eyes of her patriarchal husband); or harmful (like wild beasts, poisonous berries, or disease). In a general sense, evil refers to anything that causes pain, unhappiness, or misery—which can include the punishment of discipline sent by God. In the Bible, a man whose heart is evil could mean anything from sorrowful to vicious, depending upon the context.
The Aramaic word for evil (bisha) also permits you to give evil a wider span for a person’s behavior. The Aramaic word refers to the sense of unripe, undeveloped, or inappropriate action. Other words include corrupt, immature, or a diversion. The roots of the Aramaic point to a sense of what distracts you from moving forward and can refer to what is not ready or out of rhythm with what is harmonious (Neil Douglas-Klotz).
On the other side of the coin, the Aramaic word for good is taba, and means ripe, or ready for its purpose. Good is what is done at the right time and place, and we’ll assume, for the right reason. Its roots point to something that maintains its integrity and health by inner growth in harmony with what surrounds it.
With these adjustments to the meaning of good and evil, the wisdom of the ages carries broader significance. The apostle Paul said, “Do not repay evil with evil, but with good.”
Do not repay immature actions
(or actions out of rhythm with harmony and unity),
with the same unripeness;
but respond with maturity,
with ripe actions that restore health and harmony.
Stop acting like children. Stop reacting to the immature or unripe actions of others without thinking. Pause. Use your brain and exercise the wisdom and creativity necessary to restoring health, wholeness, unity, and peace to the situation.
Maybe this understanding of evil can help us relate to the ability of Jesus to cast out evil spirits – immature spirits, dis-eased spirits, underdeveloped spirits, bad-opinioned spirits, spirits that spit out poisonous words. It’s worth thinking about. Maybe you and I can do the same. Maybe we can contribute to casting evil spirits out of ourselves, too, as we participate in activities that help us to grow in our own personal development and maturity.