This will be short.
An atheist blogger at pathos thinks Isaiah 45:7 shows point-blank that the Biblical God creates evil. I’m going to explain why professional translators can't give this pitch the light of day.
I form light and create darkness
I make peace, and I create ra'
יֹוצֵר אֹור וּבֹורֵא חֹשֶׁךְ
עֹשֶׂה שָׁלֹום וּבֹורֵא רָע
Usually, that last word ra' is the common word for evil in Hebrew. The author cites a bunch of other uses to prove this—no problem there. The problem is the word ra' is one of the most frequent words in the Bible and can be elastic in meaning in something of the same way the English word ‘bad’ can be.
The primary reason translators don’t buy this argument is that it destroys the structure of opposites in the poem:
Line one: I create light/I create darkness
Line two: I create shalom/I create ______.
Transport yourself back to 3rd grade context clue worksheets. What English word should go in the blank for the poetic structure of the unit to be retained? Think about it before reading further
If you put anything like ‘wickedness’ in the blank you fail 3rd grade. No sticker for you! Hit yourself with a newspaper; Bad!
The meaning of ra' here is 'anti-shalom'. Whatever shalom is, ra' here is the opposite in the same since light is the opposite of darkness.
We have good words for anti-peace in English: “calamity,” “strife”…you know, those words most translators put here.
Actually, and this is probably the only time I will ever say this in my life, the Message translation of “I create harmonies and discords” is somewhat of a clever and borderline perceptive assertion about the nature of shalom.
The idea in this passage is that God is comprehensive in his power. He has the power to create peace and the power to dish out righteous judgement on the nations (what most of Isaiah is about). These judgments are definitely the opposite of peace.