Today, we don’t think twice about using the word jealous. It seems like it has become a normal human emotion. However, the word jealous meant a little more than it does today in ancient languages. That’s why I decided to look up what the word jealous means in Hebrew and Greek.

All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.

What Does The Word ‘Jealous’ Mean In Hebrew?

qana- to be, make zealous (in a bad sense), jealous.

This word has a strong, competitive sense. Used in a positive sense, qana means to be filled with righteous zeal or jealousy.

In Numbers 5:30, we see a husband that has been overcome with a spirit of jealousy. In that case, he would take his wife to a priest, who will administer a test of adultery.

The most basic sense of this word is the act of advancing one’s right to the exclusion of the rights of others.

This term can also signify the attitude of envy toward one’s opponent.

“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”

– Genesis 30:1

The Bible has many strong warnings against being envious of evildoers. Although they may be prosperous and powerful today, they will soon be cut off.

When a person has a relationship with God, the act of zeal is more positively viewed as the act of the advancement of God and His glory rather than other gods.

Also, when God is the subject of qana, it means to be zealous (Zechariah 8:2).

qanna- jealous.

This term directly refers to the attributes of God’s holiness and justice. He is the sole object of human worship and doesn’t tolerate the sin of man.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments”

– Exodus 20:4-6

qannow- jealous.

“But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”

– Joshua 24:19

Related: What Does The Word ‘Hate’ Mean In Hebrew and Greek?

What Does The Word ‘Jealous’ Mean In Greek?

zeloo- to have warmth of feeling for.

As a verb, it means to zealously seek.

“They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.”

– Galatians 4:17


In conclusion, the word we now know as zealous was also used to describe jealousy. It also expresses how holy God is and His intolerance to sin.

That’s what the word jealous means in Hebrew and Greek. I pray you found this article helpful. If so, please share this content. Also, feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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What does the word jealous mean in Hebrew and Greek?

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