JEALOUSY

Appearing some 80 times in the Bible, the root kna (qnʾ; קנא) in its various derivatives is, in the standard translations of the Bible, most often related to the notion of "jealousy" (or "zeal"). More generally, it connotes any kind of emotional agitation resulting from a perceived threat to one's honor or sense of moral rectitude. Hence, it can be used in connection with God as well as with humans (Deut. 29:19; II Kings 19:31). It can be characterized as a grave human weakness (Prov. 14:30; Job 5:2) and also as a deep motivation for selfless acts of courage and devotion (Num. 11:29; 25:11; I Kings 19:10, 14). Envious rivalry among men, the Bible records, is as old as the human race. Cain was distressed because the Lord paid more heed to his brother Abel's offering than to his own (Gen. 4:4), and Joseph's brothers were similarly distressed when Jacob, their father, favored Joseph (Gen. 37:4). Envy, too, was apparently behind Miriam and Aaron's speaking ill of Moses (Num. 12), as it was the motive of Korah's rebellion against Moses and Aaron (Num. 16). Interestingly enough, neither verbal forms of qnʾ nor its cognates are used in connection with any of these incidents, indicating that envy is not coterminous with "jealousy." Accordingly, F. Kuechler suggested that qnʾ primarily refers to the dark envy and suspicion arising from an erotic love relationship. In support of this view, he points to verses in the poetic books of the Bible (Prov. 6:34; 27:4; Song 8:6) and to the "ritual in cases of jealousy" described in the Book of Numbers (5:11–31). The latter is an ancient trial with some elements of the ordeal to test a wife suspected by her husband of an adulterous union (see ordeal of jealousy ). On the basis of these passages, Kuechler contends that the notion of God's kinah (qinʾ ah) is also derived from hosea 's erotic metaphors. The relationship between God and Israel, then, is like that of a lover and his beloved. He is jealous of her affections and demands her exclusive loyalty. It is noteworthy though that the root qnʾ is not attested in Hosea. That divine "jealousy" is not restricted to Yahweh is shown by an Akkadian (Standard Babylonian dialect) text referring to the goddess Sarpanitum with the cognate verb qenû. There is no reason to posit a late date for the epithet el kanna (qannaʾ; kanno, qannoʾ) which appears in early sources (Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Josh. 24:19). In fact, it seems to reflect one of the most characteristic features of the early Israelite conception of God whose presence never leaves man in repose, and who always supervenes either in moments of distress to save humans, or when humans behave as if there were no such presence. Just as the individual is jealous of his honor, so does God defend His against all who would ignore it. Since, moreover, it cannot be dissociated from His holiness, God's jealousy is manifested in a dual manner: loving concern for those who revere Him and consuming wrath toward those who set themselves against Him. It is possible for individuals, too, to be overcome by qinʾ ah in or on God's behalf, in their single-minded devotion to His covenant (Num. 25:11–13; I Kings 19:10, 14; II Kings 10:16; Ps. 119:139). (David L. Lieber / S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)   -In Talmudic Literature In the talmudic literature the word kinah is found in both the senses in which it occurs in the Bible, as jealousy and as zeal for God. Many passages speak against jealousy, such as "whoever stirs up jealousy and strife in his home is regarded by the Bible as stirring up jealousy and strife in Israel as a whole" (ARN1 28:85). Moses preferred to die a hundred deaths rather than to give way once to the feeling of jealousy (Deut. R. 9:9). Rabba b. Maḥ asyah states in Rav's name: "A man should never single out one son among his other sons, for on account of the extra weight of two sela'im of silk which Jacob gave to Joseph and not to his other sons, his brothers became jealous of him, resulting in our forefathers' descent into Egypt" (Shab. 10b). R. Eleazar ha-Kappar said, "Jealousy… drives a man out of the world" (Avot 4:28), and those who do not envy are promised that their flesh will not become dust until before the resurrection (Shab. 152b). Jealousy is all-embracing, with one exception: "A person can feel jealousy and envy for everyone, except for his son and his disciple" (San. 105b). However, envy can have its positive side since it leads to emulation: "the envy of soferim (scholars) leads to the increase of wisdom" (BB 21a). In the same vein it is stated, "Were it not for jealousy no one would marrry or build a house" (Mid. Ps. 37:1), and had not Rachel envied the good deeds of her sister, she would not have borne children (Gen. R. 71:6). Zeal for God is highly praised: "Were it not for Abraham's zeal ( kinah ) for God, He would not have become the Possessor ( koneh ) of Heaven and Earth" (Mid. Ps. 37:1, based on Gen. 14:22). Phinehas and Elijah are singled out as exemplifying this zeal in the Bible, and Elijah is even regarded as the incarnation of Phinehas (PdRE 29, 47). According to one opinion Phinehas became priest as a reward for his zeal in slaying zimri (Zev. 101b). The Maccabees are later used as symbols of religious zeal: "The Holy One clothed Himself with seven garments. One was for the Greeks, as it says (Isa. 59:17),… and He was clad in zeal ( kinah ) as a cloak" – referring to the Hasmoneans (Mid. Ps. 93:1). Mattathias on his deathbed urged his sons to emulate the zeal of Phinehas and Elijah, calling Phinehas "our father" (I Macc. 2:54, 58), and Phinehas is thus regarded as the spiritual ancestor of the zealots (kanna'im). Nevertheless, Elijah is criticized for his excessive zeal, and the revelation to him at Horeb (I Kings 19:10–14) is interpreted as a censure of him for accusing instead of defending Israel (Song R. 1:6, 1). Jonah is criticized for being more zealous for the honor of Israel than for that of God (see TJ, Sanh. 11:7, 30b), but Jeremiah was praised for achieving a fine balance between the two (ARN2 47, 129, Mekh. to 12:1). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Küchler, in: zaw, 28 (1908), 42ff.; Pedersen, Israel, 1–2 (1926), 175, 236–7; Pritchard, Texts, 171, par. 132; N.H. Tur-Sinai, Peshuto shel Mikra, 1 (1962), 151; G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology (1963), 204; H.A. Brongers, in: VT, 13 (1963), 269–84; H. Ringgren, Israelite Religion (1966), 76; H. van Oyen, Ethik des Alten Testaments (1967), 99; T.H. Gaster, Myth, Legend and Custom in the Old Testament (1969), 280–300. IN TALMUDIC LITERATURE: Ginzberg, Legends, 6 (1928), 138, 158, 321. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: CAD Q, 209–10; B. Levine, Numbers 2236 (AB; 2000), 289.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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