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From Deuteronomy 4:24 of the Hebrew language bible:

For Yähwè thy ´Élöhîm [is] a consuming fire, [even] a jealous ´Ël

Whereas the translation states:

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Why is it that the translation states GOD 2 times whereas in the original version It states that Elohim is a jealous El, which are 2 different words though they share the same root?

Also, why is GOD jealous? GOD is mighty and compassionate and a feelings such as jealousy shouldn't be of his.

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  1. The Tetragrammaton (YHWH, pronounced Yahweh) was a name for God, but is often written as LORD in English translations.
  2. 'Elohim is a plural form of 'El and therefore means gods, except when used with a singular verb or in a singular context, when it becomes a name for God. Here, the verb is singular and the context is reference to YHWH, so the correct translation is God.
  3. The last word, 'El, is correctly tranlated as 'god', but 'God' is preferred.

Thus, we have "The LORD, thy God, is a jealous God.

The reason for his jealousy can be found in the following verse:

Deuteronomy 4:25: When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:

The Deuteronomist was writing at a time when the people of Judah still accepted the existence and power of other gods, and was therefore warning them not to worship these gods.

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  • Why is 'god' preferred over 'God' as a translation of El? – Sola Gratia Jun 12 '17 at 19:50
  • @SolaGratia In biblical Hebrew, the singular 'El' is not used to denote God. However, reading this as 'god' implies monolatry, whereas 'God' hides this. – Dick Harfield Jun 12 '17 at 21:32
  • What about El Shaddai, El Elyon? – Sola Gratia Jun 13 '17 at 16:07
  • @SolaGratia These are used more rarely in the OT. El Shaddai literally 'God of the fields', but often read as 'God Almighty'. El Elyon = 'Most High God'. – Dick Harfield Jun 13 '17 at 21:35
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English typically doesn't translate the plural noun Elohim as "Gods". The translators would have to explain why this is the case, though today it probably owes more to tradition than technical accuracy.

As for jealousy, the key is in the difference of meaning between "jealous" and "envious". Jealousy means to be unwilling to let go of what belongs to you, while envy means to lust after what belongs to someone else. So jealousy in God's case simply means that he guards what is His.

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  • Interesting explanation for jealousy. It has actually enlightened me. I should have actually looked it up on the dictionary before including it in the question. It does make sense this way. – Fabrizio Mazzoni Jun 23 '15 at 20:16

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