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Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear Yahweh and turn away from evil. Bible

“evil.” The Hebrew text uses the common word for “evil” or “bad,” ra (#07451 רַע), which has a large range of meaning, including evil, bad, wrong, unpleasant, disagreeable, sad, unkind, wicked, adversity, misery, etc. For example, in the KJV, it is translated evil, wicked, wickedness, mischief, hurt, bad, trouble, sore, affliction, ill, adversity, harm, grievous, sad, etc.

It is important to see the range of meaning of ra in this verse because there are many things that are “bad” or hurtful behaviors that we would not consider “evil.” And the verse is in a couplet, that if we fear Yahweh and turn away from what is “evil,” “bad,” “unhealthy,” it will be health to our body and cause our bones (also a metonymy for our body) to be strong. Obviously, we must turn from “evil” such as lying and stealing or we will suffer for it, but there are many behaviors that are “bad” that we would not consider “evil” in the classic sense. For example, “worry” is bad for us and unhealthy, but people don’t consider it “evil.” If we humans want to truly be healthy in body and mind, we have to turn away from evil behaviors, and also “bad,” unhealthy behaviors.


Commentary for: Proverbs 3:7