Genesis 2

Adam was created from mud, and Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs. Both had remained naked in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:25

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (KJV).

Genesis 3:7

"Then the eyes of both [Adam and Eve] were opened and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." (NIV)

Genesis 3:9-11

9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (KJV).

What was it about eating from the Tree of Knowedge of Good and Evil that made Adam suddenly ashamed of his nudity when he was not ashamed before?

  • This question is about a topic, not about a specific passage, so it is off-topic for this site.
    – user17080
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 17:57
  • 1
    I beg to differ. This is about Genesis 3:9-11 in relation to other passages in Genesis Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 18:06
  • 1
    I think this qualifies now.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 13:42
  • The first question that was posted about this, with the latest edits, is very similar. Nudity in 1 Samuel 19:20-24 Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 17:21
  • I think we can surmise that God did not walk around naked (Gen 3:8) in the Garden of Eden. So if he created man in his own image (Gen 1:27) man must need clothes too. Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 3:24

15 Answers 15


1. Question Restatement:

In Genesis, why did Adam and Eve become ashamed when they realized they were naked after eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

2. Possible Answer - It is shameful for the one who knows good, but does not do it:

The Tree of Knowledge was Knowledge of BOTH Righteousness AND Evil:

NKJV, James 4:17 - Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

It was not revelation of some sin that they had done that made them ashamed.

But rather, it was knowing the "Good" that they had not clothed themselves in, that made them ashamed, (the "Good" imitation of the love and mercy of God - righteousness).

At the very least, even if the narrative isn't teaching to clothe oneself in "good work" or "righteousness", then it is at least affirming that clothing your body is a "Good" thing.

So, compared with the goodness of God - they were likely ashamed of how their own "goodness" measured up to God's own.

NKJV - Revelation 3:15-18 - “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. ... 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

3. Explanation: The Spiritual / Mystical Symbolism of Clothing:

Although Scripture might speak to "modesty", Scripture elsewhere affirms nudity - "before the Lord".

Scripture shows justification for more extreme, and public, displays of nudity:

NKJV, 1 Samuel 19:24 - And he also stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

NKJV, 2 Samuel 6:20-21 - ... And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king ... uncovering himself ... as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord ...

In Scripture, "Garments" Are Metaphorical for "Works", BOTH Righteousness AND Evil:

NKJV, Isaiah 59:6 - Their webs will not become garments, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And the act of violence is in their hands.

NASB, Isaiah 61:10 - I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

NKJV, Daniel 7:9 - “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;

People are NOT "spiritually naked" - when they do evil:
Note: This is an objection to another answer that asserts that nakedness is a metaphor for sinfulness - but even "sinful people" are "clothed".

NKJV, Zechariah 3:4 - Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”

Adam and Eve, (like infants), were in a unique situation: they were neither clothed in goodness, nor evil. Although they had disobeyed God, this text seems to show that their disobedience was not on the same level of "evil / filthy garments".

  • I have been thinking about this answer since I read and accepted it all that time ago; and the more I think about it the more I accept it as scripturally accurate - particularly the 3rd explanation. To me, reading the passages, it is like the fact that disobedience and sin is always clearly visible to God, and not hidden by any lies (false clothing if you like) as disobedience and sin is always “laying naked” before God’s eyes. I wish I could give more than 1 upvote. Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 11:01
  • Some cultures, especially Western ones, emphasize innocence vs. guilt in their moral paradigms. This is while others, especially Eastern ones, emphasize honor vs. shame in theirs. Kind of like your point about the garments being a metaphor for works and such, you can probably see the Bible speaking to both innocence-and-guilt and honor-and-shame paradigms, at the same exact time. ... Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 17:09
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    ... A major difference between them is that the first emphasizes what you do, while the second emphasizes what you are. You do things like putting clothes on or off, and the clothes you actively wear are a (replaceable) depiction of what you are. In terms of depicting what you are...Are you clothed with sin, or are you clothed with Christ? Everybody, including Christians, makes mistakes all the time; but do you embrace sin, or do you embrace/accept Christ (as He leads you to the next, heavenly life, which will be void of sin)? Dirty vs. clean garments speak to this symbolically. Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 17:16

My dad, who is a pastor, has an interesting theory as of why. He says that prior to the Fall, they were clothed in light as a result of walking with God. They were physically naked, but because they were clothed in God's glory, they couldn't see that they were naked.

This idea is rooted in Exodus 34:9-25, where Moses' face was radiant from being in God's presence, talking to the Almighty "face to face". Considering this, it is possible that Adam and Eve were also radiant from being with God all the time.

When they disobeyed God and contaminated themselves with sin, their radiance wore off, and they saw that they were naked and hid themselves.

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    +1 I have also heard this theology. I think that even though this answer isn't "conclusive" - it is, nevertheless, very well based in Scripture. Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 14:05
  • 1
    This perspective is compelling in light of the role of clothing in scripture. Revelation mentions white robes several times as gifts. Revelation 19:8 indicates that the white clothing is the righteous works of those who were (already) sanctified. Adam and Eve did not yet have righteous works, but God replaced their leafy aprons with garments of skin, which might have been from white sheep sacrificed for their sin.
    – Dieter
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 16:00

The sudden shame for Adam's (and Eve)nakedness is an allegory, the physical of the spiritual. Not just the gained knowledge from eating the fruit.

First, they were commanded not to eat the fruit from the tree, nor touch it (Genesis 3:3) This is confirmed when the Lord went searching for Adam in Genesis 3:11 "And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"

Second, Eve saw "that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise." (Genesis 3:6) and ate of the fruit of the tree. Eve was tempted with sin (by the serpent who represents Satan) the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes) and pride of life (to make one wise). She also gave the fruit to Adam and he ate. In verse 7 it explains how once they ate the fruit (disobeyed God) their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked.

Nakedness, was the physical representation of their disobedience to God engulfed with the shame and knowledge of that disobedience.

In that shame, they both tried to hide from God who was walking in the garden. (Genesis 3:8) This is the first sin of man. And with that sin comes shame and "nakedness" the exposure of our sin.

That feeling that we want to "hide" our sin, knowing that it is/was wrong and against what we know is right. You know, how when you are a child and you drink a beer for example. You know that it is wrong and something that you are not supposed to do so you hide the fact that you drank that beer. You brush your teeth, run straight up to your room, close the door and try to hide from your parents so they will not find out that you had some beer. Once they find out, you become "exposed" or naked before them.

The physical nakedness of Adam and Eve represented and still represents the spiritual exposure (or nakedness) of who we really are to God from whom we cannot run or hide from either in our hearts, minds, spiritually or physically.

Here are some other "naked" examples in scripture.

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
-- Revelation 3:18 NKJV

Your nakedness shall be uncovered, Yes, your shame will be seen; I will take vengeance, And I will not arbitrate with a man.
-- Isaiah 47:3 NKJV

  • I have edited to add formatting to the quotes (Use '>' symbol as the first character in a new paragraph.) Don't forget to include the version you have used.
    – enegue
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 0:54
  • So just to clarify, it was spiritual nakedness, (not physical nakedness) which they were ashamed of? Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 7:55
  • Susan - +1, I agree with you that it was a form of "Spiritual Nakedness", but, I disagree with you that "nakedness" is a representation of "being sinful", but rather a representation of "No Righteousness". They are very different things. So, I posted a very similar answer - from this other point of view, that "spiritual nakedness" is absense of "righteousness". After all, you are NOT spiritually naked if you do evil: NKJV, Zechariah 3:4 - Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 14:16

There is nothing in the Genesis account to indicate that this was an allegory.To do so it would mean to undermine the Word of God.

Your perceptive question is addressed by almost all the biblical commentaries… On the second verse you quote, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked," Even a blind person knows when he is naked.So what was it that they realized here?

Little children are notorious for trying to shed their clothes and run around naked. This is done with total innocence; the two-year-old does not see any difference between his face, his knees, and the parts of his body which we adults insist that he cover. Only adults feel that certain parts of the body must be covered. Why? Because those are connected with physical lust and passions, and should not be exposed.

Prior to their sin, Adam and Eve knew good from bad, right from wrong, but they had not internalized an evil inclination. So they could choose to do right and wrong, and were held responsible for their choices, but the urge to do evil did not come from within. This urge was represented by the serpent—the external tempter. Since the evil did not reside within them, they were "naturally" good, and their nakedness was innocent and in no way sinful. They saw no difference between a hand, whose purpose was to give charity and to do good deeds, a mouth with which one praises G‑d and says kind words to others, and the parts of the body which are used to "be fruitful and multiply." With every organ they could fulfill the will of G‑d or vice versa, so no organ was shameful, nor did anything need to be covered.

When they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, the evil inclination became a part of them. No longer did they need an external tempter to incite them to sin—now, that tempter resided within their psyches. And specifically, sexual passion – a passion which is much stronger than the desire to give charity or praise G‑d, a passion which is much more encompassing and has the potential to be seriously misused – became a part of them as well.

Hence the abovementioned verse. "The eyes of both of them were opened" – they became aware of physical lust "and they realized that they were naked" – and only now it was inappropriate for them to be unclothed.

  • Agree that a this particular combination of Evil/Good had to be 'taken in' from the outside. Other ancient texts give explanation for this. Also appears that the same thing happened in the Jacob-'Messenger' story. The Unique Benjamin was born after Jacob's encounter - he (Jacob) was 'added to'. As if a Being was keen to have her Special child included in not only Creation on Earth, but inserted into the line of the Tribes of Israel going forward.
    – tblue
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 14:01

Knowledge of good & evil (kge) made them feel guilty of being naked.

That is why God forbid them from choosing kge.

They were naked (which was sinful before the law or kge) & yet accepted by God for the sake of His Son Jesus.

But they rejected Jesus and chose the law.

Now we are given an opportunity to reject law & accept Jesus (Romans 7:4 , 6).

  • God had Knowledge of good & evil. Man was forbidden to have it. Why?
    – sudakar
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 9:50
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    Man was forbidden to have kge because God's perfect plan to grant acceptance to people was not based on their conformance to the kge but based on the Person of His Son Jesus.
    – sudakar
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 9:53

Possible lessons from the account of Adam and Eve's nakedness:

  • the story provides the origin of conscience, which Paul describes as "a law written upon men's hearts". This presages the role of the Torah which, rather than producing righteousness, produces Self-consciousness and shame. The point wasn't that they were naked but that they had become aware of their nakedness.

  • It doesn't seem super-likely that the point was that Adam felt that his penis was embarrassingly small, but I guess we should be thorough! We do know it was actually of average size, so this might provide a valuable lesson for boys. :)

  • the shape of a fig leaf is very similar to the shape of pubic hair. It may be that the "skin" of the animal had fur on it and the story is partly intended to explain the origin of pubic hair. Pubic hair is a natural covering from God just as God is said to cover the shame of a woman exposing her head to angels and thus enticing them to leap from the sky and rape her (1 Cor 11:15ff). A lesson for girls?

  • before covering Adam and Eve's shame he exposed it by saying "Adam, where are you?" etc.

  • innocence -> dirty conscience -> inadequate self-covering -> conviction -> confession -> divine covering [but no forgiveness] -> expulsion -> death


I would translate the Hebrew of Genesis 3:7 like this:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened. And when they perceived their own nakedness, then they sewed fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.

Details: enter image description here

"Sight/eyes" comes from the Hebrew word עַיִן (Strong's H5869 - `ayin). It is clearly not a reference to the physical eyes of Adam and Eve, because their eyes had been open all along while they enjoyed the beauty of the garden, and enjoyed each other, and observed how the animals behaved. No, the word is being used in this context in reference to their "mind's eye", i.e. their mental/spiritual faculties.

"Know/perceive" comes from the Hebrew word יָדַע (Strong's H3045 - yada`), and concerns knowledge/understanding/recognition. So, upon eating the fruit, Adam and Eve understood something that they had had no awareness of before, and that something was related to what they were then compelled to do: sew fig leaves to make aprons.

Their open eyes, before they ate the fruit, observed the animals doing all sorts of playful things ... yes, even procreation things. However, the new eyes of their understanding showed them: just as they had observed the playfulness and procreation behaviour of the animals, so too had God in regard to them. The thought of it caused them to immediately set about making aprons to cover their procreation parts, and then to run and hide from God amongst the trees of the garden.

Adam and Eve became aware that they could be SEEN by God in the same way as they could SEE the creatures of lower estate than themselves. It was a humiliating experience for them.

The fact that God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, meant that they would be able to eat of it WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT. The reaction of Adam and Eve was clearly an indication that they had not arrived at such a time.

  • Good research, but your last three paragraphs are speculative, right? It would be good if you could build your case for them with additional scripture. For example, I could argue that God intended humanity always to eat from the Tree of Life, and never from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I could support my argument using Revelation 22:2, in which we see only one tree, the Tree of Life!
    – Dieter
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 16:21
  • The paragraphs are hypothetical, based on Adam and Eve's innocence and inexperience. It is possible to construct an argument from Scripture that will support pretty-well any case one likes. Looking back from our point on the timeline of existence, we can see better than any generation before us that this is so.
    – enegue
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 1:15


Adam and Eve BECAME (hayah) naked….that is, they became without works of righteousness (God’s righteousness) to clothe themselves with.

They were put in the garden to work and keep it....that is, to work and keep His commandments which are a delight (the meaning of "Eden") as they are not burdensome. This working and the keeping of His commandments must have become slackened in their lives.

They were not ashamed….that is, the shame of the nakedness had not appeared yet. The shame is the speaking of evil towards another who would come and tell them that they were naked….that their “works” were not the true works of God’s righteousness.

Genesis 2:25 KJV (25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Who told you that you were naked?

That would be Jesus: “if I had not come and spoken unto them, they would not have sin, but now they no cloak for their sin”.

They were naked and now their shame appeared before all to see as they responded with hatred toward him as they spoke evil of Him. They confirmed their nakedness by their evil reaction (their exposed shame) towards what Jesus had to say to them.

John 15:22-24 KJV (22) If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. (23) He that hateth me hateth my Father also. (24) If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

It was Jesus who opened their eyes….enlightening the eyes of their understanding… to their spiritually impoverished condition: you don’t know that you are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” “Laodicea” means “people of the Judgment”. It is then the Day of Judgment when we hear His voice walking in the Spirit of the Day of Judgment. He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying in the Day.

Revelation 3:17-19 KJV (17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Laodicea…the church that heard the sharp rebuke of the Lord…. was instructed to have faith (gold tried in fire) and overcome and put on Christ….the white raiment of His good works so that they may be clothed.

If we are clothed with good works towards one that will enlighten the eyes of our understanding about our spiritually impoverished condition, then we will not speak evil.

Speaking evil of another (hating without cause) manifests the “shame” of our nakedness.

(18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Yet, the response of Adam and Eve was to sew fig leaves together (saying “Lord, Lord”) and not producing the fruits of His righteousness towards the One who informed them that they were naked.

Leaves only without fruit. They said “Lord, Lord”’ (leaves only) but did not do the will of God (producing fruits of righteousness).

Having fig leaves only (saying “Lord, Lord”) and while not producing any fruit will not save us. Faith alone will not save us if it is not accompanied by good works towards a “stranger” who will come along and tell us we have no true works of righteousness. Our so-called “works of righteousness” will not save us.

They made themselves “aprons”….in other words, they felt secure with their things and condition. They had need of nothing.

They trusted in their own sayings of “Lord, Lord” but yet had no good works to show (no outward manifestation of the evidence of their faith). The eyes of their understanding were opened by the Lord who told them that they were naked…without the works of the righteousness of God.

Genesis 3:7 KJV (7) And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

They heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the “cool”….that is, Spirit…of the Day…the Day of Judgment. Laodicea = “people of the Judgment”.

They are reminded to keep His commandments…which Adam was to work and keep in Eden (delight). His commandments are to be a delight of those who have His Spirit…and they show they know Him by the keeping of His commandments.

They instead “hid” themselves from the presence (face) of the LORD God in the tree (singular) of the garden. They did not show that they knew the Father nor the Son by the doing of His commandments.

TREE = singular tree.

They hid in the tree (singular) of the garden.

This singular tree would by the Tree of Life as they professed that they were “alive” but were really dead. They did not eat of its fruit but hid in the name of being alive in Him.

Genesis 3:8-11 KJV (8) And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife **hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.**

They hid in the Tree of Life…..hiding behind their name that they lived in Christ but were really dead as they did not reach out their hand and eat of the fruit of that Tree.

Where are you? Where is your outward evidence of faith?

Faith alone is dead….we cannot hide behind our profession of faith only. This does not make us “alive”. Professing that one has faith but having no good works is being dead. Faith alone is dead. We must show forth forth…manifest…our good works as evidence of our inward faith. God had called unto Adam...calling out the evidence (the good works) of our faith in Him.

(9) And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

“Adam” means “red” and “Sardis” means “red ones” and speaks of having faith alone without good works.

Good works completes our faith in Him. Jesus is the author and completer (the Beginning and the End) of our faith as we hear His voice in the Spirit of Truth opening up the Scriptures to our minds and we show our faith by bringing forth good works towards what we hear.

We cannot hide from His face in the Tree of Life….having a name that we are alive but having no good works to accompany our profession of faith. We are “dead” having faith alone without good works.

Revelation 3:1-6 KJV (1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Good works completes our faith. The church in Sardis did not produce those good works. The Lord did not find their works complete (perfect) before God.

(2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Some in “Adam” (meaning “red)…in Sardis (red ones)…who are "dead" will awaken to His voice and put on Christ and will walk with Him. Adam and Eve heard the Voice (Jesus Christ) walking in the Spirit of the Day….in the Day of Judgment. We are to overcome.

(4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

They did not hide in the Tree of Life in name only but actually partook of the fruit of life. Those who will hide in that Tree of Life when they hear His voice speaking to them today (and found not awakening to His righteousness) will have their name blotted out of the book of life.

(5) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

The Spirit speaks…we hear His voice….and we are to hear and respond according to the instruction. Where is our faith? Where are you Adam? Will our called out works complete our faith? He is calling out the evidence of our faith towards the hearing of His Spirit of Truth.

(6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

“Are you eating of the tree whereof I commanded you that you should not eat”?

Genesis 3: (10) And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (11) And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil speaks of using our tongues being used to speak evil ( others as being “evildoers”) in judgment upon them. Those who do such things think that they are doing God “service” for killing another with their tongues…being judge, jury and executioner supposedly in God’s name.

Professing one’s self as “wise” and speaking evil of another supposedly as a “judge” for God (“For God knows…”) is eating of the wrong tree. There is only One Judge and One Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy. Who are we to judge another using our own carnal commandments of men as a basis for?

James 4:11-12 KJV (11) Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. (12) There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Whosoever will “kill” you will think that they are doing God service. They eat from the wrong tree as they see themselves as “judges”…that is, “gods” or “Elohim”. They know as judges supposedly for God who and what is “good and evil” according to their own standards….according to their handwriting of dogmas that think are true.

John 16:1-3 KJV (1) These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. (2) They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (3) And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

They love and practice THE Lie…the same Lie from the beginning:

“you shall surely not die” = by “killing, you shall not die”. They think that they are doing God service and have peace and safety in killing another with their tongues…speaking evil of their brother.

“For God does know” = you are doing this thing in God’s authority.

“Your eyes shall be opened” = you shall be seen as wise. Everyone wants to be seen as the “wise” one.

“You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” = we shall be as judges for God as we know what and who is good and evil according to my own standard (according to the doctrines and commandments of men that we hold on to and think is true to keep).

Out of the same mouth one blesses God and yet curses other men made in His image. The fruit of this tree is death. The wages of THE Sin is death…death to the mortal body.

Genesis 3:4-7 KJV (4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

So the eating of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil did not open their own eyes per se but by the eating of it caused a response: Jesus came to tell them that they were naked…. without the clothing of God’s righteousness . He opened the eyes of their understanding so that they knew that they were “wretched,

(7) And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

But they did not overcome. All are dead in Adam. We must overcome and put on Christ.

We must “awake” to His righteousness. We “sleep” when we forget to do His commandments. We must arise from the dead….being dead in trespasses and sins. We must depart from those who will not do His commandments when they hear His voice. Christ shall give us light…..the full knowledge of God when we do this.

Ephesians 5:14-21 KJV (14) Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (15) See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (17) Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

We must not be found “drunk with wine”…that is, drunk on the wine of wrath towards what we hear the Spirit saying. Instead, we are to be filled with what the Spirit is saying…drinking it in.

(18) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

And rejoicing within our hearts and giving thanks to Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

The wages of THE Sin is death...when we continue to eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of that is death to our mortal bodies.

Romans 6:23 KJV (23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So Adam was hiding in the Tree of Life (having a name that he was alive but was really dead). He was prevented from reaching out to take also of its fruit.

Genesis 3:22-24 KJV (22) And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (23) Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Now we must use the sword of the Spirit to mortify.. deaden....kill...the practicing of the sin in our lives.

Romans 8:12-14 KJV (12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Genesis 3: (24) So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.


There is a deeply spiritual dimension to all of this. For further consideration by those interested in plumbing deeper depths in this account of the first couple's nakedness, I begin by quoting from Genesis:

'Where [art] thou?' And he saith, 'Thy sound I have heard in the garden, and I am afraid, for I am naked, and I hide myself.' And He saith, 'Who hath declared to thee that thou [art] naked? Of the tree of which I have commanded thee not to eat, hast thou eaten?'

... God doth make to the man and to his wife coats of skin, and doth clothe them. And Jehovah God saith, 'Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,' -" Genesis 3:8-22 Young's Literal Translation

I now quote from the end of this book:

"The man was as one of us - regarding the knowledge of good and evil. But now he is not as one of us. So he is banished from our garden. Logical, sensible and in agreement with the narrative...

But the serpent lied. For that is not how God lives [unwilling for humanity to be as Deity is. And not only unwilling, but vindictive after the event.] This serpentine lie is an appeal to the creature to be as its Creator : a worthy desire. But its premise is not true. The Creator does not live that way...

[The devil] is a liar and a murderer, from the beginning, John 8:44. He would have murdered the entire human race, in order to bring it into subjection to his own sphere of influence - the material, substantive arena. He would have - had God cursed humanity utterly. But the curse is upon the serpent, himself. And salvation is of the Lord - The Lord our Righteousness.

Jesus Christ Righteous 1 John 2:1. John's description (title, if it is a title) is nothing to do with the law of Moses. 'Lo, I come to do thy will' saith he. And to do that will, required a body. 'A body thou hast prepared me'... Had there been a law which could have given life, he would not have come, he would not have died. No body would have been necessary...

And the sin that came in was the matter of choosing to live by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in order that men may be as gods. I say again, that sin is spiritual. Albeit that sin works through flesh, sin - itself - is a spiritual thing...

From the beginning, when the [7th] day waned and, in the cool of the evening [sunset marking the darkening start of the 8th day] Adam no longer visible, but hiding among the trees of the garden, vainly covering his humanity with fig leaves - God, now no longer at rest on that seventh day as it drew to a close, he 'walked'. Or rather his voice walked. His mouthpiece. His means of utterance...

[Cherubim] were 'settled' at the extremity of the garden, towards the east, awaiting the rising of the sun upon another day, this day, the eighth day, when the sun of righteousness arose with healing in his wings/beams.

That the voice of God 'walked' in the cool of the evening, indicates - even then - the beginning of a new day, for the evening and morning are the measures of a day in Genesis. The concept is that the end of one phase, an interim of passivity (in darkness) and the beginning of a new phase is all called 'Day'.

The interim passivity in darkness is called 'night'. Thus when the voice of God - his means of utterance, the Word - 'walks' it is as new day. The seventh is over. The rest is finished. There is new activity, a new creation. Cherubim appear, for they are, now, no longer associated with the first man. Thus they appear independently and are 'settled' at the eastern extremity of Eden. To await the dawn.

To await the sun of righteousness who will arise : Jehovah Tsidkenu.

Through justification by redemption ; and further by resurrection unto restoration ; a new humanity arises out of death, in an everlasting testament, now brought in by the death of the Testator, and yet unto full and final redemption in a new creation. Thus are many sons brought to glory.

Being clothed in robes of righteousness does not convey, to me, the idea of glittering garments : it conveys to me the concept of another humanity. As Adam and Eve were clothed with the skins of a sacrificed animal, an unnamed animal, an unidentified species, so are those risen with Christ clothed in another humanity than that in which they came into existence in the first man, a humanity which could not - yet - be identified before he came, manifestly...

For him who knew not sin, for us sin he 'made' (effectively caused) that we might be (it is ginomai and it is in the present subjunctive, BAGL) righteousness of God, in him, II Corinthians 5:21.

'Being' righteousness is a matter of 'being' human. Humanity is a state of being. One humanity has been removed, in death. Another humanity, from another Headship, is realised in his resurrection and shall be absolutely implemented in the final resurrection at the last day.

Out of the first man, unclothed, born again from above of God in a reversal, of water and of Spirit, now clothed in a new humanity in Christ, quickened with him, raised with him, seated with him in the heavenlies, awaiting the redemption when he appears." Jehovah Tsidkenu, pp 114-5; 116; 117; 122-123; 125, Nigel Johnstone, Belmont Publications, 2019 (Italic, Author's. Bold, mine)

The answer to the question, "Why was nudity suddenly a shame for Adam?" forms when all the bits I have put in bold are put together, showing that it was not physical nudity that brought such a sense of shame, but realising that he had chosen a way to live (fruit = food = life) that brought death, just as his Creator had warned. But no literal piece of fruit brings knowledge of anything, nor can any literal piece of fruit bring eternal life, so the meaning only comes when we get behind the physical, literal events, to grasp the immensely deep spiritual truths being taught here.


Being naked in front of someone else is the most vulnerable a person could ever be. No barriers, no shield, no interface, no pretence. And no weapons, either. It's no wonder we are so afraid of it. Nakedness exposes us to every potential danger that we know: from cold and pain to assault, criticism and rejection. When we are naked, we have nothing to help us deflect or absorb the injury - we must bear it all, physically and emotionally.

When an animal senses danger, it responds instinctively by preparing to fight or to flee. It is aware only of the danger - it simply responds to stimuli. What humans have acquired in addition to this same physical response is a knowledge or awareness of our own vulnerability - an awareness of ourselves interacting with life. By knowing ourselves to be participating in each interaction, we have the capacity to respond differently to stimuli than other animals do: we can apply change to ourselves. This is different to a chameleon who changes colour to hide from predators. If we hide our nakedness with fig leaves, for instance, we have already begun learning to interact with life in a way that changes how life interacts with us. And even though it has so many other, much more productive applications, we mostly apply this 'gift' to try and protect our vulnerable, naked selves from potential danger.

But a few fig leaves cannot hide this new sense of vulnerability from God. So when they hear His voice in the garden, Adam and Eve try to hide themselves completely.

"I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." (Genesis 3:10)

So we see by Adam's own words that it wasn't shame that caused Adam to hide from God, but fear. What was Adam afraid of? With the fig leaves it couldn't have been his modesty that he was referring to when he says 'because I was naked'. It was this new awareness of his vulnerability in the presence of God, even with the fig leaves, that made him afraid.

But in Genesis 2:25 the author used the word 'ashamed'. So how does this adjective relate to Adam being afraid after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

'Ashamed' and its association with fear

The word 'ashamed' has two meanings, both of which are used in the bible.

In the OT there are many calls from prophets for the people of Israel or Jerusalem to be ashamed of their actions, and then to fear God.

Those who are called to be ashamed are told to be embarrassed or guilty because of their actions, characteristics or associations.

Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel! (Ezekiel 36:32)

Those who admit to being ashamed show a reluctance to do something due to fear of embarrassment or humiliation.

'I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”' (NIV Ezra 8:22)

"I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens." (NIV Ezra 9:6)

In most instances, the persons who are 'ashamed' are described taking steps to avoid confrontation, as if they are afraid to face the consequences. They seek to change how life interacts with them in order to protect themselves from potential danger.

But God regularly greets his people throughout the OT with "Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged." (Genesis 15:1, 26:24; Joshua 8:1, 10:25; Judges 6:23; Isaiah 44:2,8, 54:4)

To fear something is to acknowledge the power it has to do us harm. The only people called to be ashamed are those who refuse to acknowledge that God is the only fear they should have, and then only if they don't live as He has instructed.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (NIV Psalms 118:6)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV 2 Timothy 2:15)

In the NT, both Paul and Jesus encourage their listeners to not be ashamed of the gospel, even in the face of persecution, but to have courage instead.

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (NIV Luke 9:26)

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. (NIV 2 Timothy 1:8)

Paul suggests that people were denying the gospel because they were afraid of the consequences of being associated with Jesus who was persecuted or with Paul who was imprisoned, and were taking steps to protect themselves from a similar fate. He urges his followers instead to not be afraid of suffering persecution for the sake of the gospel.


So being ashamed is being afraid of humiliation, punishment or harm brought about by our own actions, characteristics or associations. While Adam acknowledges only his fear at this stage, as readers we cannot separate this fear from his actions in eating the fruit, which brought him, and all humanity, to this new, fearful awareness. It's a bit like the chicken and the egg - without this awareness he would not be afraid of the potential for harm that this characteristic of being human, this knowledge that he is participating in the interaction of life, brings him. He would not be ashamed.

But now we, too, cannot deny that how we interact with life affects how life interacts with us. It is a sense of responsibility we cannot un-know, as much as we might feign the bliss of ignorance and create barriers, shields, interfaces, pretence....and weapons to turn that awareness against others.

It is in our nakedness that we feel this most profoundly. We persecute those who uncover our nakedness, our vulnerability, as if they are to blame for reminding us that beneath the barriers of clothing, walls and ideology, hiding behind the interfaces, pretence and weapons we are all just as vulnerable as everyone else to humiliation, punishment and harm. We are all just as afraid.

  • 1
    While I don't disagree with your philosophical perspectives, I'd encourage you to focus your answers using more scripture at this site. Your references to Genesis 3:10 and Genesis 2:25 are a good start. Are there scriptures that reveal the relationship between shame and fear?
    – Dieter
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 16:08
  • Thanks @Dieter, I appreciate the tip. I have added significant edits. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 2:30

Because sinning is bad and by doing this, you defile yourself against God and make yourself a contemptible abomination, worthy of being exterminated and dead. So much for wanting to know good and evil like God, which, even if they succeeded, would still ultimately fall apart. You can't be someone that you're not. That's something Adam and Eve would know very well, having direct interaction with God. And that's what makes Satan's instructions all the more sinister.

  • I am at a loss with your "answer". "Because sinning is bad and by doing this, you defile yourself against God" Adam and Eve have been without clothes all the time up to this point. "You can't be someone that you're not" Where does it say Adam and Eve wanted to be Gods? Commented May 12, 2019 at 8:22
  • Read my answer again. All I'm referring to is the guilt-laced self hatred Adam and Eve developed because of their sin. Also, Adam and Eve eagerly followed Satan's promise for them to be gods. There's no indication of protest/discomfort on their part. (Genesis 3:5). Commented May 13, 2019 at 6:09

The couple were transformed to moral agents like God knowing good and bad. Prior to the transformation they were not conscious of their nakedness like other animals. The tough question would be why God should hold animals accountable? Not only the pair themselves but future generations!


Adam and Eve, became naked because they disobeyed God. The Glory of God was upon them before they disobeyed God. Consider this illustration: when a light is pointed at you, you will not be able to see anything, you could only see the rays of light.

Adam and Eve where oblivious to the physical environment, but were too sensitive to the spiritual realm of God dimensions. But when they sinned the light went off, and they were aware of their immediate state of nudity. Adam and Eve were surprised, see a new thing. Emotions appeared, affection became effective.

  • It would be helpful if you could provide a biblical basis for this conclusion. I can think of a passage in Job, but it is certainly in the context of a mystical union with God, glory, etc... St. John of the Cross wrote about this in "Dark Night of the Soul". Regardless though, without a Biblical basis for this explanation - I am not sure this answer will be that helpful. Even copy/pasting St. John of the Cross' explanation of this would be really helpful. Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 16:51

God forbade Adam and Eve from claiming knowledge of good and evil - but If it was His intention that we never eat from the tree, He wouldn't have put it there in the first place. He wouldn't have put it there to tempt us, it wasn't a mistake and it couldn't have been there for anybody else to eat from. So He must have intended for Adam and Eve to eat from this tree eventually. Perhaps when they had learned about the universe and how everything worked; when they were more aware of the delicate balance in nature, and understood how everything is interconnected. We know now that this learning process would take many thousands of years. We know now that knowledge is, by its definition, gained by experience or education.

But in eating from the tree, Adam and Eve suddenly claimed to know good and evil without gaining any experience about the universe. They claimed to know that being naked is evil, and from that judgement they felt shame. But God asks 'who told you that you were naked?' - not because Adam and Eve gained any real knowledge they weren't supposed to - they received neither education nor experience to inform them that nakedness was even a thing, let alone that it was shameful. God certainly didn't tell them. We discover later that it also isn't one of the Ten Commandments. It wasn't ratified as law by Jesus, either.

So why did they suddenly become ashamed of nakedness? Because they just decided, with no basis for their decision, that being naked is wrong and therefore shameful. They made a judgement without any real awareness, knowledge or understanding about the world, claiming knowledge that they didn't have.

Thousands of years of human experience later, and we can see that there is no natural, scientific or logical reason why being naked is shameful, except that human beings have judged it to be so. Clothing has the benefit of protection, sure - but being without clothing is not inherently evil. The fact that we have continued to teach this false knowledge to every generation since Adam and Eve is due to our own arrogance, not to any commandment by God.

When we recognise this then we can see, throughout the stories of the bible and the history of civilisation, through war, slavery and oppression, that humanity's greatest sin has always been that we judge without sufficient awareness, experience or understanding. We claim knowledge of good and evil, but we do not have it.

  • The text states specifically why they became ashamed, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." (Genesis 3:7), which is precisely what the serpent said to Eve two verses earlier. It was portraying God's prohibition as His desire to hold back from Eve something that she was ready for, which the evidence of the text, and history in regard to those who prey on innocents, proves otherwise.
    – enegue
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 23:00
  • Thanks for the tip, @elika. I hope you will read the edited answer. Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 10:37
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    @enegue, your quote still doesn't explain why they they became ashamed - their eyes were already literally open. If their eyes were figuratively opened, as in an awareness, then opened to what? What was it specifically that Eve wasn't ready for, and by what process would she become ready? It seems readers are having trouble separating the term 'naked' from the shame it continues to elicit. Where does our morality come from? Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 10:39
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    There are many places where the Torah states nakedness in certain circumstances is sinful. For instance, the altar was to have no steps so that no one could see the priest's nakedness. Also "seeing X's nakedness," when X is not a spouse (logical exceptions for doctors in their work and parents) is a sin.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 13:57
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    @Possibility The "narrative" depicts the forces opposed to God as a serpent. It is clear the serpent is in opposition because the narrative also records its words to Eve, which tip the balance of her mind towards disobedience. Wherever their are innocents in the world, there will be the serpents also, whispering such words as would tip the balance of their minds towards disobedience. Are you a serpent in regard to the issue of nakedness? God forbid that it might be so.
    – enegue
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 2:55

Gen 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. The argument is why all of a sudden did Adam & Eve cover themselves after they ate the fruit, first with loincloths made from fig leaves then their whole bodies when God came looking for them. It seems they first hid from each other with the fig leaves, they’ve sinned and have now become sinners. When people do something they know is wrong, as both knew they have, they begin hiding a part of themselves as they did here with the fig leaves amongst themselves. Sin causes us to begin withdrawing ourselves from others. But then: Gen 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Gen 3:9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Gen 3:10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” If they've already covered themselves with fig leaves to satisfy not being naked to each other, why are they still hiding from God? The covenant relationship in marriage involves God too. They must have known that the change in their thinking was due to their eating the fruit, their disobedience of God, they are now aware of it so they don’t feel they can hide that sin from God, so now they must hide their whole bodies from God because something they were not aware of before they ate, they are aware of now due to disobedience so they must hide themselves from the One they disobeyed. Like having food on your face after eating, if you didn't know it was there, you could interact normally with others, but after looking in the mirror and discovering that food, you become embarrassed that others have seen food on your face. Poor analogy but maybe it works...

  • ”Sin causes us to begin withdrawing ourselves from others” - Where did you get that from? ”so they don’t feel they can hide that sin from God” - I think here you are touching on what is mentioned in the accepted answer (that the nakedness is a metaphor for the spiritual “filthy clothing” of sin they are actually wearing). Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 10:48

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