jel'-us-i (qin'ah; zelos): Doubtless, the root idea of both the Greek and the Hob translated "jealousy" is "warmth," "heat." Both are used in a good and a bad sense--to represent right and wrong passion.
When jealousy is attributed to God, the word is used in a good sense. The language is, of course, anthropomorphic; and it is based upon the feeling in a husband of exclusive right in his wife. God is conceived as having wedded Israel to Himself, and as claiming, therefore, exclusive devotion. Disloyalty on the part of Israel is represented as adultery, and as provoking God to jealousy. See, e.g., De 32:16,21; 1Ki 14:22; Ps 78:58; Eze 8:3; 16:38,42; 23:25; 36:5; 38:19.
When jealousy is attributed to men, the sense is sometimes good, and sometimes bad. In the good sense, it refers to an ardent concern for God's honor. See, e.g., Nu 25:11 (compare 1Ki 19:10; 2Ki 10:16); 2Co 11:2 (compare Ro 10:2). In the bad sense it is found in Ac 7:9; Ro 13:13; 1Co 3:3; 2Co 12:20; Jas 3:14,16.
The "law of jealousy" is given in Nu 5:11-31. It provided that, when a man suspected his wife of conjugal infidelity, an offering should be brought to the priest, and the question of her guilt or innocence should be subjected to a test there carefully prescribed. The test was intended to be an appeal to God to decide the question at issue.
See ADULTERY; SACRIFICE.
E. J. Forrester