What the Bible says about Jealousy
4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
4 Jealousy. The sage focuses attention first on anger that is ruthless and destructive (lit., "a flood of anger"; see Job 38:25; Ps 32:6; Na 1:8 for the imagery used for destruction). In contrast "jealousy", here in the negative sense (as opposed to the positive sense of "zeal" to defend a threatened institution for the right reasons), is a raging emotion that defies reason at times and takes the form of destructive violence, like a consuming fire (see Pr 6:32-35; SS 8:6-7).
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
2. The works of the sinful nature (5:19-21)
That pneuma and sarx (see comment on v.16) are in conflict is now illustrated by contrasting lists of the works of the sinful nature and of the fruit of the Spirit. At the same time, the lists are more than a mere proof of what he has written earlier. For by raising these particulars of conduct, he also provides a checklist for measuring the conduct of those who consider themselves spiritual. If one's conduct is characterized by the traits in the first list, then he or she is either not a believer or else a believer who is not being led by God's Spirit.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
20:17 covet. This commandment prohibits an internal motivation or condition that desires (hmd, stimulated by vision) what a person is prohibited from having, the wife of another man. A different word is used (wh, inner need) to prohibit taking of things. The verb hmd in this context has the connotation of “to appropriate” as well. The phrase “covet this city” occurs in a Phoenician text.
The phrase “his land [field]” is coupled with house and is used in legal documents in the ancient Near East, especially at Ugarit. In an Egyptian document recording the negative confessions of a deceased person, the deceased denies that he had been covetous. The fabled wise Egyptian Ptahhotep denounced covetousness as a deadly vice. In the Ramesside era the covetous person was considered a fool and covetousness a sin. Neither a poor man’s possessions nor a nobleman’s wealth were to be coveted.
The Eloquent Peasant of Egypt expected a leader to be free from covetousness, and a covetous person would not enjoy success. One’s own house should fill all of one’s needs. The inwardness of these admonitions is paramount, for the heart was regarded as “the god who dwells in man.” This central concept seems to be absent from Mesopotamian law; there is an emphasis on the act of appropriation, which was condemned. In ancient wisdom literature, “coveting murders” is an abomination to the gods Ninurta and Enlil.
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