Websters 1812 Definition

JEALOUS, a. jel'us.

Suspicious; apprehensive of rivalship; uneasy through fear that another has withdrawn or may withdraw from one the affections of a person he loves, or enjoy some good which he desires to obtain; followed by of, and applied both to the object of love and to the rival. We say, a young man is jealous of the woman he loves, or jealous of his rival. A man is jealous of his wife,and the wife of her husband.

First and Last Occurences and Bible Definition

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: 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; (Exo_20:5)

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2Co_11:2)

Not all the time, but normally, a term derives meaning and context for which it is used throughout the bible, from its first occurrence. As such, the first occurrence and last occurrence of each testament will be viewed to give a possible and concise definition.

The first use occurs in the old testament at the giving of the ten commandments (Exo_20:5). Here, the word is used to describe a feeling that the Lord has regarding our attention and devotion to him as the one true God. He desires all of our love and when man turns to other "graven images" jealousy is the result. (Deu_6:5; Deu_30:10; Pro_3:5-6; Mar_12:30; Mar_12:33; Luk_10:27).

The last occurrence of this term occurs in 2Co_11:2, where Paul is urging the church of Corinth to grow in their faith 2Co_10:4-6, looking beyond the fleshly outward appearance and toward the inward appearance of man. Paul here exhibits the same jealousy as the Lord for their faith, that they be not turned aside but follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The church here is to remain undefiled by other gods or the commandments of men. Paul is showing his concern that they will be tempted of the devil 2Co_11:3.

To further check this principle of first and last, let us now look at the last occurence in the old testament and the first occurence in the new testament just to ensure that this definition holds true. These verses are Zec_8:2 and Rom_10:19. First, the Lord is found speaking to Zechariah, stating his jealousy (zealous love) for Israel mingled with his wrath for their playing the harlot with false gods and turning away from his commandments. The chapter shows a vindication of Israel and a restoring of a remnant of Jews at some later date. Rom_10:19 shows the jealousy of the Lord, in that "All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." (Rom_10:21) The Lord loves Israel very much... After all, they are his people. It is because of their disobedience however that salvation came unto the Gentiles Rom_11:11 to provoke Israel to jealousy, that they might worship the Lord again.

With all of this information, a possible definition of jealousy is the sensation that the Lord has when people go after other gods, breaking his commandment, placing higher value on other things, above the Lord in their life. God is jealous in his love toward us and of our love toward him, but jealousy here is a descriptor of how much the Lord loves us, it is not a type of love.

All Occurences (43 verses 54 hits)

Exo_20:5; Exo_34:14; Num_5:14; Num_5:15; Num_5:18; Num_5:25; Num_5:29; Num_5:30; Num_25:11; Deu_4:24; Deu_5:9; Deu_6:15; Deu_29:20; Deu_32:16; Deu_32:21; Jos_24:19; 1Ki_14:22; 1Ki_19:10; 1Ki_19:14; Psa_78:58; Psa_79:5; Pro_6:34; Son_8:6; Isa_42:13; Eze_8:3; Eze_8:5; Eze_16:38; Eze_16:42; Eze_23:25; Eze_36:5-6; Eze_38:19; Eze_39:25; Joe_2:18; Nah_1:2; Zep_1:18; Zep_3:8; Zec_1:14; Zec_8:2; Rom_10:19; Rom_11:11; 1Co_10:22; 2Co_11:2;

Main Study

We start the main study carrying the definition learned from above and seeking to prove it through scripture. This definition of jealousy could be simply stated as a feeling, caused when an object of ones love or affection is in the possession or attention of a rival. Let us now look at three categories of jealousy in scripture. First the Jealousy of the Lord, followed by the jealousy of man, and last the old testament jealousy offering.

Jealousy of God:

    • Ten Commandments - Exo_20:5; Deu_5:9
    • God's Warnings and Examples - Exo_34:12-16; Num_25:11; Deu_4:24; Deu_6:13-15; Deu_29:14-20; Deu_32:16-22; Jos_24:19-24
    • Lord Provoked - 1Ki_14:22-24; Psa_78:58-61; Eze_8:2-6; 1Co_10:19-22
    • Lord In Jealousy - Psa_79:2-5; Isa_42:13; Eze_16:35-43; Eze_23:22-25; Eze 36:5-6; Eze 38:19-20; Eze_39:24-26; Joel 2:18; Nah 1:2; Zep_1:18; Zep 3:8; Zec 1:14

The jealousy of the Lord has so many instances that I had to group them again. There seems to be a pattern however, as first the commandment was given, then warnings and examples provided. After this, as neither the command or the warning is heeded, the Lord is provoked and does things many things in jealousy.

I am sure Israel was warned many more times against serving other gods as well as doing "that which is right in their own eyes", but jealousy is only mentioned in six of these warnings. The last of which, shows Israel as a people taking vow to serve the Lord only, with wiwitnessoth of themselves and and Joshua (Ok, the Lord saw too). By the way, an example of what would happen if Israel turned away from serving the Lord was also given to the people when they turned to other gods in Num_25:2. The Lord's jealous wrath was only stayed by Aaron's sons Num_25:11.

It is interesting that after these warnings, a couple of examples of the consequences of disobedience in following after other gods (Num_25:1-11 and Deu_32:16-32), and an oath made by the people, that the Lord seems only to be provoked to wrath through jealousy from this point forward. This jealousy only seems to come up as a result of people turning their heart away from him and towards other gods/idols.

Also, we must take note that the Lord's jealousy is also described as fire, eight times out of this terms mentions in the bible. (Deu_4:24; Psa_79:5; Son_8:6; Eze_23:25; Eze_36:5; Eze_38:19; Zep_1:18; Zep_3:8) Brings a significant meaning to Heb_12:29 stating that "God is a consuming fire" and to the fact that the Lord will soon judge the world with fire.

Jealousy of Man:

    • Elijah - 1Ki_19:9-12; 1Ki_19:13-16;
    • Others - Pro_6:34-35; Son_8:6; Deu_32:16-22

This section will review the jealousy of man. It is in these verses that we find out some truths about this term, "For jealousy is the rage of a man" Pro_6:34 and "jealousy is cruel as the grave" Son_8:6.

You will see Deuteronomy 32:16-22 noted here again. The Lord seems intent to provide us an example/experience of the sensation he has when we turn from him to commit whoredoms with other gods (Not necessarily other religions/faiths, but can be money, authority, power, greed, or other vanities). The only example where "jealousy" of a man is found, outside of the offering below, is by Elijah while he is hiding in the cave.

Elijah says something kind of interesting here, "I, even I only am left". That sounds a lot like Job_1:15-22 where he was in the process of loosing all he had doesn't it? In this passage, Elijah is the only prophet of God remaining. He has been jealous of Israel for the Lord, as he has watched them 1Ki_19:10 go against the Lord (Probably for other gods when looking at what they were doing).

Jealousy Offering:

    • Suspected adultery of woman (bitter water) - Num_5:11-31

This offering was by the command of God to Moses. It's intent was to uncover the supposed adultery of a man's wife. The description of the conditions show a woman who is cheating and has not been caught. The husband however does suspect something, bringing a feeling of jealousy over him. (Num_5:13-14)

The interesting part of this, is that the husband has to provide the offering for the feeling he has toward his wife. A possible answer for this is that she may be innocent and the feeling unmerited. The obvious answer would be that they "twain shall be one flesh" (Mat_19:5). The purpose of the offering is to bring any iniquity to remembrance. If the woman has had an affair she will have a curse set on her, but before the trial comes, the man's wife is required to affirm or accept the curse twice, saying "Amen, amen". (Num_5:23)

Talk about marriage being a picture of the church! The husbandman is provoked to jealousy by the behavior of his wife if she has gone aside to other men. The Lord, on the other hand, is provoked to jealousy when the people he loves turn aside and follow after other gods.