“You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, Adonai your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”-Exodus 20:5
When the Scripture says our Lord is a jealous God, honestly, this really rubs me the wrong way.
It reminds me of my overbearing and over possessive (frankly, emotionally incestuous) mother.
Something I want to get away from rather than draw closer to.
Actually, I think a lot of us subconsciously project who are parents were onto God.
If our parents were good, then we’ll have a positive image of God our Father.
But if our parents were abusive, then we might have difficulty accepting this Almighty authority figure portrayed in the Scriptures.
That’s why its so important to spend time daily in the Scriptures, so we can develop a proper and healthy understanding of who our Father in heaven really is.
So what do the Scriptures really mean when it says our God is a “jealous” God?
The Hebrew word used for jealousy here is “QANNA“.
It has a sister word which is “QINAH”.
There is an important difference between the two.
QINAH ONLY refers to human emotions and is used 43 times in the Old Testament.
This is the word used to describe jealousy as we understand the word today with all of its negative qualities.
Think of an over possessive boyfriend who constantly monitors his girlfriend’s movements and is always paranoid about losing her.
Or the envy one feels towards another person’s wealth or belongings.
QINAH is the word you would use to describe all of these unflattering emotions.
On the other hand, QANNA rather than “jealousy” means being passionate.
But not in an erotic sense.
It means passionate in the sense of standing strongly for something, like how the President of the United States is passionate about the ideals that define and make America what it is and is also passionate about defending his country.
In this context, it means that the Lord will have no rivals and has zero tolerance for sins committed against Him.
The word QANNA here exemplifies the Lord in all His immoveable righteousness.
Using the word “jealous” in this spot in our Bibles gives an incorrect and negative impression and attributes a characteristic to the Lord that is way off mark.