Jealous (To Be) - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words

Usage Number: 1
Part Of Speech: Verb
Strong's Number: H7065
Original Word: qana’
Usage Notes: "to be jealous; to be zealous." This verb, derived from the noun qin’â, occurs 34 times in the Old Testament. The root appears in several Semitic languages with the meaning "to be zealous" (Aramaic and Ethiopic). In Ugaritic and Arabic the root occurs, but it is questionable if the root is related to the meaning "to be zealous"; the meaning in Ugaritic text is uncertain, and the meaning in Arabic, "became intensely red," is not to be explained etymologically. The verb qana’ appears in rabbinic Hebrew.

At the interhuman level qana’ has a strongly competitive sense. In its most positive sense the word means "to be filled with righteous zeal or jealousy." The law provides that a husband who suspects his wife of adultery can bring her to a priest, who will administer a test of adultery. Whether his accusation turns out to be grounded or not, the suspicious man has a legitimate means of ascertaining the truth. In his case a spirit of jealousy has come over him, as he "is jealous" of his wife (Num. 5:30). However, even in this context (Num. 5:12-31), the jealousy has arisen out of a spirit of rivalry which cannot be tolerated in a marriage relationship. The jealousy must be cleared by a means ordained by the law and administered by the priests. Qana’, then, in its most basic sense is the act of advancing one's rights to the exclusion of the rights of others: "…Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (Isa. 11:13). Saul sought to murder the Gibeonite enclave "in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah" (2 Sam. 21:2). Next, the word signifies the attitude of envy toward an opponent. Rachel in her barren state "envied her sister" (Gen. 30:1) and in the state of envy approached Jacob: "Give me children, or else I die." The Philistines envied Isaac because of the multitude of his flocks and herds (Gen. 26:14).

The Bible contains a strong warning against being envious of sinners, who might prosper and be powerful today, but will be no more tomorrow: "Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways" (Prov. 3:31, niv; cf. Psa. 37:1).

In man's relation to God, the act of zeal is more positively viewed as the act of the advancement of God and His glory over against substitutes. The tribe of Levi received the right to service because "he was zealous for his God" (Num. 25:13). Elijah viewed himself as the only faithful servant left in Israel: "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant… And I, even I only, am left…" (1 Kings 19:10). However, the sense of qana’ is to make jealous," that is, "to provoke to anger": "They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger" (Deut. 32:16). God is not tainted with the negative connotation of the verb. His holiness does not tolerate competitors or those who sin against him. In no single passage in the whole Old Testament is God described as envious. Even in those texts where the adjective "jealous" is used, it might be more appropriate to understand it as "zealous." When God is the subject of the verb qana’, the meaning is "be zealous," and the preposition le ("to, for") is used before the object: His holy name (Ezek. 39:25); His land (Joel 2:18); and His inheritance (Zech. 1:14). Cf. Zech. 8:2: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her" (niv), where we must interpret "jealous[y]" as "zealous" and "zeal." In the Septuagint the word zelos ("zeal; ardor; jealousy") brings out the Hebrew usage. In the English versions similar translations are given: "to be jealous" or "to be zealous" (kjv, rsv, nasb, niv) and "to be envious" (kjv and niv).

Usage Number: 2
Part Of Speech: Noun
Strong's Number: H7068
Original Word: qin’â

Usage Notes: "ardor; zeal; jealousy." This noun occurs 43 times in biblical Hebrew. One occurrence is in Deut. 29:20: "The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man…."

Usage Number: 3
Part Of Speech: Adjective
Strong's Number: H7067
Original Word: qanna’

Usage Notes: "jealous." This adjective occurs 6 times in the Old Testament. The word refers directly to the attributes of God's justice and holiness, as He is the sole object of human worship and does not tolerate man's sin. One appearance is in Exod. 20:5: "… For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me." The adjective qannô’ also means "jealous." This word appears only twice, with implications similar to qanna’. Josh. 24:19 is one example: "And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins." Nah. 1:2 contains the other occurrence of qannô’.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words