James McGrath is hardly in the same camp as Hitchens, but he's raised this aspect of God's character, as the OT appears to depict it, as one that is problematic:
It would be hard to find an easier proof that religion is manmade. There is, first, the monarchical growling about respect and fear, accompanied by a stern reminder of omnipotence and limitless revenge, of the sort with which a Babylonian or Assyrian emperor might have ordered the scribes to begin a proclamation.
The apparent problem of 'disturbing Divine behaviour' has led evangelical scholars such as Kenton Sparks to muse that "the Bible does not speak with one divine voice but offers instead a range of human voices with different judgements and opinions on the same subjects." (God's Word in Human Words). For a conservative community such as ours, such views would be, and are regarded, with some unease as they appear to run counter to commonly held ideas on Biblical inspiration.
Doesn’t it suggest that at times religious believers, including some of the Biblical authors, have depicted God as reflecting some of our worst human characteristics?
If a human husband said that to his wife, we would classify it as domestic violence. And rightly so. It reflects a view of the wife as property, and the husband as her lord and owner with sovereign rights to inflict punishment on one who has “stolen” from him his exclusive right to “sow his seed” in a “field” that is his property. And despite the fact that some still claim to want “Biblical marriage,” the truth is that even most conservative Christians practice something very different than what constituted marriage in Biblical times. And to the extent that God is depicted in the Bible as divine husband of Israel, as marriage is rethought, so too must this Biblical metaphor be.
Fidelity is something that we can all still appreciate today, I presume: No one disputes that it is painful to be cheated on. But jealousy that is obsessive, possessive, controlling and selfish is something that we are trying desperately to recognize as a serious problem, and get people to move away from.
Presumably an image of God who would himself commit assault and battery against his wife is one that it is crucial to examine critically and rethink.
So, how does one resolve this problem?
* Accept the idea of a Jealous God as a brute fact, and dismiss human objections with the "My ways are not your ways" line.
* Look for a different meaning for 'jealousy' which carries a less opprobrious tone.
* Argue that inspiration can include human elements such as a culturally-dependent view of God which needs to be recontextualised for today.