Romans 11: Making Israel Jelous
In Romans 11:11, Paul writes, “Have they [Israelites] stumbled so as to fall? Certainly not! But through their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make them jealous (παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς; parazelosai autous).” It’s not uncommon to hear that, according to this verse, “Gentiles are supposed to provoke Jews to jealousy.” But how would a non-Jew do that?
According to a new, popular interpretation, this jealousy will come from the Gentiles observing Torah in the same way that Jews do; particularly by keeping the Sabbath, eating kosher, wearing ritual fringes, etc. Seeing this Gentile Torah observance, the argument goes, Jews will become “jealous” of Gentiles which, in turn, will lead to Jewish repentance. I would suggest this is not what the apostle had in mind when he envisioned Israel becoming jealous. In Paul’s thinking, the nations were not supposed to adopt a Jewish lifestyle, but rather learn how to reflect the values of love and forbearance that they themselves have experienced through Yeshua. It is this divine disposition that will make Israel jealous!