I have a question about the following words:
- רשע (rasha`), generally translated as "wicked" or "ungodly". 263 occurences in the OT.
- חטא (chatta'), generally translated as "sinner". 256 occurences in the OT.
For example, both these words appear in Ps 1:1
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked (rasha`, רשע), nor stands in the way of sinners (chatta', חטא), nor sits in the seat of scoffers [ESV];
In this and other contexts, both these words appear to include strong moral condemnation (guilt) as part of their meaning. My question is: for which of these two words is this the strongest ? In other words, when the goal is to express moral condemnation in the strongest possible terms, which of the two words is going to be used in the OT ?
My perplexity regarding this issue comes from the fact that chatta' litterally means "missing the mark" (like with a bow or sling) and therefore seems to connote failure rather than evil. Yet, in many cases, like in Ps 1:1 where there is apparently a progression from bad to worse, according to a number of exegetes, it seems that the word chatta' connotes even stronger condemnation than rasha`.