A violent passion aroused by some wrong experienced; vengeance is sought upon the one who committed or caused it. It includes every degree, from displeasure and indignation at unworthy acts to wrath and fury. The Hebrew terms are ḥaron af, literally, "the burning of the nose"—that is, "the kindling of anger"; 'ebrah, "a boiling over"; rogez, "anger";ka'as, "chagrin"; ḳeẓef, "provocation"; ḥemah, "wrath"; za'af, "rage"; whileza'am, though translated in the A. V. "indignation," implies rather an outpouring of fury. Anger, therefore, is an element of punitive or vindictive justice in man, which, anthropopathically, is applied also to God.—Anger of God.—Biblical View:
One of the most essential doctrines of the Bible, and hence also of Judaism, is God's holiness. God is not an intellectual abstraction, nor is He conceived as a being indifferent to the doings of man; and His pure and lofty nature resents most energetically anything wrong and impure in the moral world: "O Lord, my God, mine Holy One . . . Thou art of eyes too pure to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Hab. i. 12, 13 Heb.). "The man of unclean lips can not bear the sight of His holiness (see Isa. vi. 5). "The sinners in Zion are afraid . . . Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?" (Isa. xxxiii. 14). "Evil shall not dwell with thee; scoffers [A. V. "the foolish"] shall not stand in thy sight" (Ps. v. 4, 5). "He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight" (Ps. ci. 7). An evil tongue and evil actions "provoke the eyes of his glory" (Isa. iii. 8). "For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God" (Deut. iv. 24). His anger is kindled not only by idolatry (Deut. vi. 15, ix. 19, xxix. 17; II Kings, xvii. 18, and elsewhere), by rebellion (Num. xi. 1), ingratitude (Num. xi. 10), disregard of things holy (Num. xvii. 13, xvi. 4, 7; Lev. x. 6; Num. xxv. 3; II Sam. vi. 7; Isa. v. 25). and disobedience (Ex. iv. 14), but also by the oppression of the poor (Ex. xxii. 23; Isa. ix. 16, x. 4).
The divine Anger kindled becomes "a fire which shall burn unto the lowest nether world and consume the earth with her increase and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deut. xxxii. 22; compare Jer. xv. 14, xvii. 4; Ps. xxi. 10, lxxviii. 21). "Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth and blazed up [A. V. "was kindled"] in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem; so that they became waste and desolate as they are at this day" (Jer. xliv. 6; compare also Isa. xlii. 25, and Ps. lxxix. 5). Especially forcible is the description of God's avenging wrath in Nahum, i. 6, where the physical and moral forces combine to make the prophet exclaim: "Who can stand before his wrath [A. V. "indignation"]? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him." At times the divine Anger is sent forth as an elementary force to work destruction on individuals or nations (Ex. xv. 7; Ps. lxxviii. 49; Job, xx. 23; Isa. xxx. 30); or God (like the goddess of destiny) offers a wine-cup of foaming wrath to the nations to drink of and become mad (Jer. xxv. 15 et seq.). "God as a righteous judge is wroth every day" (Ps. vii. 12, Heb.; A. V. translates this differently); and He has certain set days for the outbursts of His Anger (Isa. xiii. 13; Zeph. i. 15, 18, ii. 2, 3; Ezek. vii. 19; Lam. i. 12, ii. 1, 21, 22; Prov. xi. 4; Job, xx. 28). Hence the day of wrath corresponds to the Day of Judgment or doomsday (Zeph. i. 15, ii. 2, iii. 8 and elsewhere).Principles of Application.
But whether directed against natural powers (Ps. xviii. 9, 16; compare, however, Hab. iii. 8), against individuals (II Sam. vi. 7), against Israel (Deut. xxix. 27, Jer. xxv. 37 et seq), or the nations (Isa. lxiii. 3, 6; Jer. x. 25; Ezek. xxxvi. 5); whether it inflicts immediate death (Num. xi. 33, Ps. lxxviii. 38), or uses the foe as a rod ("O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger," Isa. x. 5), God's anger is never the outburst of a mere capricious passion,but is a necessary element of His moral order. "Fury is not in me" (Isa. xxvii. 4). It is réstrained and controlled by divine mercy, the correlate attribute of justice. As Hosea, xi. 8, 9 says: "Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together; I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger." "Full of compassion . . . he many a time turned away his anger and did not stir up all his wrath" (Ps. lxxviii. 38). God is also "long-suffering" (erek appayim) and "slow to anger" (Ex. xxxiv. 6; Nahum, i. 3). "Though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me" (Isa. xii. 1). "In wrath thou rememberest mercy" (Hab. iii. 2, Heb.). "I will not contend forever, neither will I always be wroth" (Isa. lvii. 16). "In my wrath I smote thee but in my favor have I had mercy on thee" (Isa. lx. 10).
Anger at sin (the outflow of middat ha-din = justice) and compassion upon the sinner (the outflow of middat ha-raḥamim = mercy) while they are merely human conceptions of God, are inseparable from God's manifestations as the righteous ruler of the world. Without the former there would be no fear of God or obedience to His law (Ex. xx. 20; Deut. xi. 16, 17; Josh. xxiv. 19, 20); without the latter, no repentance or return of the sinner to the path of life (Micah, vii. 18; Jonah, iii. 9; Ezek. xviii. 23). Great calamities that befell the land under Herod were ascribed to the "anger of God" (Josephus, "Ant." xv. 9, § 1).Rabbinical Sayings.—In Rabbinical Literature:
God's Anger is often made the subject of discussion. God said to Moses: "Let my face of wrath pass by and I will give thee ease" (Ex. xxxiii. 14, Heb.). Is there wrath before God? Yes, "God is angry every day" (Ps. vii. 12, Heb.)—that is, for a brief moment imperceptible to any creature: "For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life" (Ps. xxx. 6), or, again, "Hide thyself for a little moment until the wrath [A. V. "indignation"] is passed" (Isa. xxvi. 20). Balaam alone was able to select the right moment for his curses; and he would have annihilated the people of Israel, had not God withheld His anger at the critical moment; "How shall I curse if God doth not curse? or how shall I pour out wrath if the Lord doth not pour out wrath?" (Num. xxiii. 8, Heb.). This withholding of wrath by God is the "righteousness" or mercies spoken of in Micah, vi. 5. Joshua b. Levi, knowing the time most favorable to cursing to be the early morning, wanted to use it against some troublesome heretic in his neighborhood. But as he slept on beyond the appointed hour, he took this as a hint that heaven was against such practises (Ber. 7a; 'Ab. Zarah, 4b). Rabbi Meir says: "When the heathen kings rise in the morning and prostrate themselves before the sun, this is the time when God is angry" (Ber. 7a). "As long as there are wicked men in the world, so long is there wrath in the world" (Sanh. xi., last Mishnah, pp. 111b, 113b). "Every hypocrite brings wrath into the world" (Soṭah, 41a; Job, xxxvi. 13, "The hypocrites in heart heap up wrath"). "God's indignation is roused when the Shekinah in the house of worship has to wait for the number of ten to begin the regular service" (R. Johanan, Ber. 6b). If one verse reads, "God is wrathful every day" (Ps. vii. 12, Heb.) and another, "Who can tarry before his wrath" (Nahum, i. 6, Heb.), the one refers to the judgment of the community, the other to that of the individual ('Ab Zarah, 4a). If one Biblical passage reads, "Fury is not in me" (Isa. xxvii. 4), and another, "The Lord revengeth and is furious" (Nahum, i. 2), the one refers to Israel, the other to the heathen nations. This is explained later with reference to Amos, iii 2, Heb. The transgressions of Israel are punished in this world, while those of the heathen accumulate and are punished in the next ('Ab. Zarah, 4a; compare Shab. 30b). Similarly (Ps. lxxvi. 11, Heb., A. V. 10), "The wrath of man shall praise thee, the remainder of thy wrath shalt thou restrain," is thus explained in Yer. Ma'as. iii. 51a: "The divine wrath expended upon the righteous in this world conduces to praise; while the wrath is all reserved for the wicked in the next." In Midr. Teh. the wrath is referred to Israel in this world and to the heathen nations on the Day of Judgment in the next (Midr. Teh., ed. Buber, 342).The Day of Wrath.
"The day of wrath" (Zeph. i. 15) is understood by the rabbis (B. B. 10a, 116a; Shab. 118a; 'Ab. Zarah, 18b) to refer to the Judgment of Gehenna; likewise, "the day that shall burn as an oven" (Mal. iii. 9; see Sanh. 110b; 'Ab. Zarah, 4a; Gen. R. vi., xxi., xxvi., xlviii., and elsewhere). So is the "day of vengeance" (Deut. xxxii. 35, Samaritan text) understood to be the great Judgment Day in Targ. Yer. and Sifre Deut. 325 (see Geiger, "Urschrift," p. 247; "Jüd. Zeit." ix. 92; Driver's "Commentary on Deuteronomy," pp. 374 et seq.). This idea of a day of wrath reserved for the wicked (referred to frequently in the "Sibyllines," ii. 170 and Fragment, ii. 38, iii. 556-561, 810, iv. 159 et seq., v. 358; in Book of Enoch, ed. Dillmann, xcl. 7-9; and also in the Ḥasidic, II. Macc. vii. 30-38, but not in Ecclus. [Sirach], v. 7) finds its emphatic utterance in the New Testament: "O generation of hypocrites [A.V., "vipers"], who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (John the Baptist, in Matt. iii. 7); Paul, in Rom. ii. 5: "Thou treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath" (compare ib. i. 18, V. 9); xii. 19: "Avenge not yourselves, but give place unto the [divine] wrath; as it is written. To me belongeth vengeance" (Deut. xxxii. 35); "The wrath of God cometh upon the sons of disobedience" (Eph. v. 6; compare I Thess. i. 10; Col. iii. 6; Rev. vi. 17, xix. 15; John, iii. 36; Sanday, "Epistle to the Romans," p. 41; and Hastings, "Dict. Bible," s.v. "Anger").