This article reassesses the expression of jealousy and envy in the Hebrew Bible as well as their ethical status. Through a systematic analysis of the Hebrew root קנא, I argue that קנאה arises exclusively in scenarios involving a relative loss in status to a rival and that its closest English counterparts are therefore envy and jealousy. While some sort of link between קנאה and envy/jealousy is widely acknowledged, communis opinio has it that קנאה in the Bible regularly refers to other emotions and states, from anger and fury, to devotion and love, to vaguer feelings of passion, emotional excitement, zeal, or the desire for vengeance. Likewise, קנאה is widely considered to be ethically neutral—an emotion that might be positive or negative, good or bad. I challenge these views through new readings of several passages (esp. Song 8:6, Prov 14:30, Num 11:29, 2 Sam 21:1–2) and close with a brief discussion of the significance of these findings for biblical theology, religious zealotry, and the lexical expression of jealousy in cultures that evolved in contact with the Hebrew Bible and its translations.

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