Q. Isa 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (KJV). Why did God create evil? Wouldn’t the world be better off if He hadn’t done it?
A. It would indeed be a problem if God had created evil, but He hadn’t. This erroneous understanding is the unfortunate result of a poor translation in the KJV. The newer, word-for-word, translations have the following:
• NASB The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
• Amplified The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing peace and creating disaster; I am the LORD who does 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.
If you check an interlinear, the Hebrew word for evil is ra, which as a noun can be translated “evil, distress, misery, or calamity“. Which is the correct translation?
You will note that Isa 45:7 is in the form of a parallelism. The first pair is light and darkness, which are opposites. The second pair in the KJV is peace and evil, which are not opposites. That’s why scholars feel it is not a good translation. The newer versions have peace and disaster (AMP), or well-being and calamity (NASB, ESV), which are opposites. They fit both the meaning of the word ra, and the parallelism structure of the verse, and are considered better translations.
So, when you read the newer translations, you can see that the verse says the LORD was causing well-being and creating calamity. In the context of Isa 45, God used Cyrus to subdue nations (Isa 45:1), He did not create moral evil as the KJV suggested.