Archive for October, 2014

A Jealous God

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures, theology with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by chouck017894

According to the old priest-written Hebrew Scriptures any villany or atrocity could be indulged in and excused as long as you believed that a judgmental, prejudiced, reclusive god offered you his protection (at a price of obedience to some self-appointed mouthpieces). The personality of the aloof creator-god was openly stated in some versions of the second Commandment, “…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” And in Exodus 34:14 seekers were further reminded, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god.” That godly characteristic of jealousy allowed, in turn, the associated holy flaws such as belligerence, intolerance, vindictiveness, violence, pugnacity, warmongering, and a raft of similar niceties. In truth those imagined godly characteristics were unconsciously crafted upon the priest-author’s own ambitions for material control, and their own personal flaws of character were subconsciously tacked onto that imagined being. The faith system that was thus crafted in holy book form pointedly revolved around a never seen deity who can be characterized only as their faith system’s indestructible defender. This holy avenger angle was a lucrative promotional tactic which would also be utilized in the founding and crafting of a couple of other by-the-book faith systems which now dominate western cultures.

However, nowhere in those many volumes of holy writ is it ever explained why an omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere) Creator should be racked with such a pathetic human frailty as jealousy. There have, however, been many attempts to get around this apparent weakness–primarily by trying to reinterpret the Hebrew word ganna, which is traditionally translated as “jealous.” Considering that an ultimate power created everything, what could there possibly exist that would cause “him” to suffer the pangs of jealousy? Jealousy is a form of covetousness. Such an idea of godly psychosis only serves to weaken a seeker’s trust. Jealousy is intolerant of rivalry, an emotional weakness that flounders in insecurity, a fear of being supplanted, a distress of possessiveness, an apprehension of ownership–in short, a neurosis.

Nonetheless, Exodus 20:5 portrays the Lord God confessing, “…for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them…” Let’s face it, that is excessively neurotic. Then in Deuteronomy 4:24 we are told, “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” And this gets reinforced in Deuteronomy 5:9 where it again relates, “…for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the…” etc. As noted, this supposedly jealous disposition of the Creator Lord conveniently flings the doors wide open for mankind (especially the faith system believers) to practice all the other flaws which habitually accompany jealousy. This is even admitted in Proverbs 6:34, which reminds us, “For rage of a man is jealousy; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” This is further typified in-depth in the later book of the visionary Ezekiel 5+, the whole chapter of which pretty much extends holy justification for murderous indulgences by the faithful who, in their egoism, believe they are the “chosen” favorites of the jealous Creator.

Through millennia there have been countless apologists who have attempted to counter the negativity held in the emotion of jealousy which is attributed to God in holy writ. And the fancy sidestepping they have indulged in has been something like watching hip-hop dancers who can seem somewhat gracefully disjointed but awesome in their own right. God’s jealousy has been often likened by apologists to the Lord being zealous (which sounds a lot like jealous), or that god waxes enthusiastic or ardent or fervent in “his” commitment for intelligent life. (Perhaps concern for the intelligent part should be stressed more to the unquestioning believers.) In this way the apologists may then split hairs and say, as did the Reverend C. H. Spurgeon in 1863, that, “…there is such a thing as virtuous jealousy.” He also asserted in a sermons that “…jealousy, like anger, is not evil in itself, or it could never be ascribed to God; his jealousy is ever pure and holy.” If that sounds somewhat incongruous it is the stuff that blind faith thrives on. On the other hand, who among us is familiar with the subtleties that are waterlogged within the fountainhead of Creation? Still and all, it is unlikely in that distant timeframe that the priest-authors of the Old Testament would have couched their implications with such iffy phraseology. Those devious priest-authors aggressively sought to exercise authority and control, so it is not exactly in error that the Hebrew word ganna wound up being translated as Jealous, or that this emotional instability can be identified through human indulgence which typically leans toward intolerance and fearfulness of being supplanted.

The aforementioned Reverend Spurgeon may be forgiven his pulpit jockeying over the Lord’s jealousy back in the 1860s for the word does happen to be derived from the medieval Latin word zelosus (no, that is not misspelled, it is Latin). The Latin zelosus, from the Greek zelus, does mean zeal, and a zealous Lord sounds so much more respectful than a jealous one. Or does it? Zeal is an ardent self-commitment to something–a cause, ideal, goal–an enthusiasm and/or devotion in the pursuit of some emotional reassurance. Zeal and fanaticism happen to be unquestionably interchangeable, as history repeatedly demonstrates. Back in the Roman Empire timeframe the members of the Jewish sect which resisted Roman rule in Palestine were referred to a zealots. They feared being supplanted. Thus to this day, inspired by priest-written scriptural lore, the incongruity over God’s alleged jealousy remains. And we are left to ponder why should the all-powerful Creator-Lord of everything be either jealous or zealous about anything he/she/it created?