Indignation is a hot and fiery word. It’s used many times in the Old and New Testament. Therefore, it must be of significance. That’s why I decided to look up what the word indignation means in Hebrew and Greek.

All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.

What Does The Word ‘Indignation’ Mean In Hebrew?

za’am- to be enraged; to foam at the mouth.

za’am- fury, anger (especially of God’s displeasure with sin)

za’aph- anger, rage. 

chemah- heat; anger; poison.

This word means “wrath; rage; heat; anger.” It’s a strong emotional state and is used 124 times, mostly in prophetic and poetic literature such as Ezekiel.

Most of the time when chemah is used, it involves God’s anger.

“For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also.”

– Deuteronomy 9:19 KJV

God’s anger against Israel was expressed in the exile of the Judeans to Babylon.

“The Lord hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.”

– Lamentations 4:11 KJV

The scriptures use the metaphor of a cup to speak of the judgment of God upon His people (Isaiah 42:25; 51:17).

Also, chemah is applied to describe man’s strong emotional reactions to everyday circumstances. It’s associated with two other words:

  • qin’ah meaning jealousy
  • naqam which means vengence

For example, in dealing with Israel, God was jealous of His holy name. For this reason, He had to deal justly with idolatrous Israel by avenging Himself. Plus, he avenges His people against their enemies.

ka’ac- to grieve; rage; be indignant.

A review of this word shows that around 80% of the usage of its usage involves Yahweh being provoked to anger by the sin of Israel, especially when they decide to worship other gods.

“Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel.”

– 2 Kings 23:19

ka’as- vexation, grief.

qetseph- rage or strife.

In the noun form, this word means wrath. It occurs 28 times in the Old Testament and usually with reference to God. An occurrence of God’s wrath can be found in 2 Chronicles 29:8. Meanwhile, you can find an example of man’s wrath in Ester 1:18

What Does The Word ‘Indignation’ Mean In Greek?

aganakteo- to be indignant.

This term can mean to feel a violent irritation or to be moved with indignation. It’s translated in the following ways:

  • answered with indignation (Luke 13:14)
  • they had indignation (Matthew 21:15)
  • were moved with indignation (Matthew 20:24)
  • they were sore displeased (Matthew 21:15)
  • he was much displeased (Mark 10:14)

aganaktesis- indignation.

zelos- zeal, ardor; jealousy, malice.

Zelos may be a favorable term but is usually used for evil. In an evil sense, envy is tormented by another’s good fortune and is aggressive and active to diminish the good in another. This is usually accompanied by fault-finding and petty complaining.

thumos- passion, anger; hot; passion.

Thumos is translated into:

  • fierceness (Revelation 16:19)
  • wrath (Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Hebrews 11:27; Revelation 12:12)
  • indignation (Romans 2:8)
  • wraths (2 Chronicles 12:20)

When thumos has subsided, orge takes over and longs for revenge and desires to injure.

orge- ire; punishment.

This word is used many times. It’s found to speak of:

  • the sufferings of Jesus at the hand of the Gentiles (Luke 21:23)
  • the wrath of man (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 2:8; James 1:19-20)
  • God’s anger with Israel (Hebrews 3:11)
  • the anger of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 3:5)
  • the terrors of the law (Romans 4:15)
  • God’s present anger with Israel nationally (Romans 9:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:16)
  • God’s purpose in judgment (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7; Romans 1:18; Ephesians 2:3; Colossians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10)
  • His present anger with those who disobey the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel (John 3:36)


All in all, the word indignation represents a wave of hot, burning anger, usually owed by the Lord Himself. However, the good news is that through the redemption that is made available to us through Jesus, we can be in right standing with God. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ takes the deep-rooted sin out of our hearts and gives us a desire to live righteously. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work on us, we can become shining stars for God.

Since there are so many people who provoke the Lord to anger, why not do all we can to make God smile when He lays His eyes upon us? Anyway, that’s what the word indignation means in Hebrew and Greek. I pray you found this article helpful. If so, please share this content. Also, feel free to share any thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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What does the word indignation mean in Hebrew and Greek?

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