Further to my question, Nudity in the bible - Genesis 2 and 3, I have the following quote which I would like clarified.

Adam and Eve felt shame when they were naked in the Garden of Eden yet, there are other parts of the Old Testiment which seem to highlight that nudity does not necessarily cause shame.

1 Samuel 19:20-24 Saul had sent a group of messengers to capture David. The "Spirit of God" descended on the messengers, and they started to prophesise (Verse 20). Saul sent a second and third group of messengers, both with the same result (Verse 21). Finally Saul went himself and the Spirit descended upon him as well (Verses 22 & 23). Verse 24 states:

1 Samuel 19:24 - And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night...." (KJV).

The nudity of Saul and his messengers while prophesising is the first of many similar instances in the Bible.

Why were Saul and the prophets not ashamed when nudity was a source of shame to Adam and Eve?

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    Chris - I've seen the other question, and posted a possible answer there. But, is it possible to change this one to be more specific about Saul and the prophets? Like, "Why were they not ashamed?" Or, "Were there commandments against nudity, based on Adam and Eve?" Or, "Why were they prophesying naked?" Otherwise, now that they are clarified - they seem to overlap a bit. Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 13:59
  • Note that the first person to prophesise (or prophesize) was Bob Dylan. Before him, people would prophesy. Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 2:01
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    I have always wondered about that. When Adam and Eve discovered they were naked, why were they embarrassed to be seen by Yahweh? Christian husbands and wives are often naked together when they know Yahweh can see them at anytime and they are not embarrassed to get naked in his presence. Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 22:28

7 Answers 7


The question is, "Why were Saul and the prophets not ashamed when nudity was a source of shame to Adam and Eve?" – Faulty Question! It's 100% wrong to say, "nudity was a source of shame to Adam and Eve." The Bible says explicitly that God made them naked, it was good, and they were not ashamed -- it was sin that made them ashamed, NOT nudity! Most Western cultures get this backward.

Nudity in the Gospels

The innocence is further clarified in the Gospel of Mark and in Hebrews: Jesus was the second Adam. Adam brought shame with his sin. Jesus set us free from the shame of sin. When the soldiers arrested Jesus, they seized a young man, but he ran away naked and free. (Mark 14:51-52) It is CLOTHING that "represents" sin and shame. If you feel shame when nude, you are in bondage.

Nudity in the Prophets

God tells no one to sin, and He told Isaiah to go naked and barefoot. (Isaiah 20:2-4, which specifies naked didn't mean still wearing underpants, as some Theologians say, because it clearly sites bare buttocks.) The prophet Micah went naked. (Micah 1:8.) Chances are, a sign of a prophet was nudity. Saul joined in because it was not exclusive to prophets. Anyone could go nude. Men in the Bible wrestled nude. (Deuteronomy 25:11) People lounged in the evening naked (Habakkuk 2:15). It's well documented that in biblical days, people in neighboring Egypt, Rome, and Greece sometimes went naked. So IF nudity were a sin, God would've most certainly and Clearly said, “Thou shalt not go naked," and He would've defined the punishment for it. (I've been taught that tithing is the only "rule" with no penalty. So tell me the punishment IF nudity were a sin!)

Nudity in Genesis

Read Genesis carefully. Adam was already clothed with leaves when he hid in the trees and said, “I am naked.” The fact that God taught Adam and Eve to make durable clothing doesn't mean cotton, linen, and fig leaves became a sin. God was sending them out into thorns and thistles, and God knew leaves wouldn't protect them. (Animal skins are never again referred to in the Bible in the context of clothing.) It does not mean nudity (which God said was good) became a sin. Otherwise, God would not have later told some people to go nude. Jesus taught us how to pray, so do you proclaim that any prayer except the Lord's Prayer is a sin? If Jesus were to say, "Cast your nets on the left side of the boat," is it a sin to cast your line on the right side of a boat? When God let the Israelites pass through the Red Sea and later the Jordan River by walking on the ground, is it now a sin to use bridges—that we are required to use subways under the water? So how can "showed them how to make clothes from animal skins” possibly imply nudity is a sin? By the way, Adam & Eve made garments to cover their loins/hips—Eve remained topless. (Gen 3:7. - 14 of 34 sampled translations make topless clear; the remainder chose to “buffer” the original Greek to “covering.”)


If you want a rule against nudity, you don't first have to add it to the Bible. We made a law that a business can't be a monopoly, and it didn't have to be in the Bible. If your church's youth group sneaks off during summer camp and skinny-dips in the lake, you don't have to lie and say the Bible says nudity is a sin because it doesn't. You can simply say, "Our rule here at Camp Tonka-Tonka is no nudity." (IF I were a camp employee, I’d merely lecture about swimming without a lifeguard.)

Finally, we are Christians. Not Jews. We Do Not Live By The Law! We have been set free from the law. Yet some Christians invent a law and shame people into obeying. There is not to be shame anymore. In Christ there is no condemnation! (Romans 8:1.)

Don't say, 'Nudity was a source of shame to Adam and Eve,' because that absolutely is not true. Sin brought shame, and their fig leaf clothing did not take it away. Jesus took it away. And contrary to the pictures on your Sunday school wall, Jesus hung on the cross nude. That's how crucifixions were done and how Christ took away our shame.

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    Related answer: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/88561/54773
    – Jess
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 20:04
  • @SteveMiller this reads like a Facebook comment. "America" is not in the Bible so it's not relevant what "most Americans" think to any question on this site. Every statement should be backed by logic or the Bible. Your constant use of all caps to "shout" is not in keeping with the purpose of this site; your point should be made with the content of your words, not your capitalization. If you make a statement that references the Bible, state the verses. Why are you randomly capitalizing words? Cotton. Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:57
  • @ Cotton: It's irrelevant that America isn't in the Bible. My easily-seen point is that American Christians have great trouble with this nudity thing. Take the Nordic countries and Germany for example. They have group nudity and can be Christian without any conflict. -- My capitalization? You can learn to see beyond upper-case characters. Instead, read my POINT. Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 4:16
  • Hi Steve, I've had a shot at cleaning up the formatting on your answer. Please do feel free to edit it further if I have not captured your intent correctly or if you want to make any further improvements. As Maximus said, please always focus on Answering the Question, not on attacking or accusing specific groups or positions on a passage. Hermeneutics is all about starting from the text. Thanks again for your contribution, much better!
    – Steve can help
    Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 14:00

Excellent verse ,thanks for sharing!

When the verse uses the word naked it doesnt necessarily mean without clothes,

for under the tunic there was worn by men of the upper ranks certainly a fine-woven shirt of linen or cotton. Lyranus explains the words “stripped off his clothes” as simply denoting that he threw off his upper garment, “his royal robe.”
-- Source: BibleHub Commentaries

Saul was in the presence of a strong spiritual force that made him act erratically or against his original intentions. That reminds of Balaam and the time he tried to curse Israel but all that came out of his mouth was blessings.

  • "...under the tunic there was worn by men of the upper ranks certainly a fine-woven shirt of linen or cotton", I see, so would Saul's messengers be considered to be in the upper ranks with Saul? Also, is there something I can reference to corroberate this when mentioning it? Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 15:26

I thought this was an interesting take on it. In the Complete Jewish Study Bible, the comment on this passage says,

The removal of royal garments and lying naked portrays a king who has lost his royal position and is now thoroughly humiliated.

It seems Saul may have been ashamed and humiliated before God because of the way he acted as king and the nakedness is a representation of that shame.


You are supposing that in this particular scripture reference, Saul is not emberassed by being naked and prophesying.

I think you should reconsider this. i am absolutely sure he was supremely emberassed by this. He was supposed to be the king, and to be honorable in all things.

But he was not acting in a kingly way when he pursued David to kill him. God used this to disrupt his wicket plan and shame him. The text does not say directly that he was ashamed, but knowing about the times and the culture we can assume (and i think the text takes for granted) That rolling on the ground "naked" was a terribly emberassing thing for a king to do.

That is why the people mock him "Is Saul a Prophet too". He was supposed to be a king but he was forced to act in an un-kingly way


A key word in the passage if the Hebrew גַּם, meaning "also, too, moreover." In the OP, the KJV places the word at the end of the phrase so that it reads "And he stripped off his clothes also, implying that in addition to prophesying, he stripped. But the word actually comes at beginning of the phrase and other translations render it as "He too stripped off his clothes." This makes all the difference, because if the other prophets also stripped, then Saul was merely doing as they did. In that case Saul's nudity or semi-nudity was not unique. All of the prophets did it, including Samuel.

In fact, the "primitive" Israelite prophets often entered an ecstatic state, as did their Canaanite counterparts. I submit that Saul's altered state was the reason his nudity was not shameful.

In the first instance of Saul's prophesying, he is described this way:

...God gave him another heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When they were going from there to Gibeah, a band of prophets met him, and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? (1 Sam. 10:9-11 NRSVA)

Here, Saul is depicted as having entered into a state of frenzy, in which the norms of usual society are suspended and people hardly recognized him. In the incident described in the OP, the ecstatic state, led directly by Samuel, is so powerful as to be literally contagious.

Saul sent messengers to take David. When they saw the company of the prophets in a frenzy, with Samuel standing in charge of them, the spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also fell into a prophetic frenzy. When Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they also fell into a frenzy. Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also fell into a frenzy... [Saul went] towards Naioth in Ramah; and the spirit of God came upon him. As he was going, he fell into a prophetic frenzy, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He too stripped off his clothes, and he too fell into a frenzy before Samuel. He lay naked all that day and all that night. Therefore it is said, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’ (1 Sam. 19:20-24)

Both descriptions indicate a powerful altered state. That being the case, although there may also be a symbolic significance to his act as described in other answers, the basic explanation is more simple: Saul was in a state of ecstasy, as were all the prophets. Moreover, he was not alone in his nakedness if we read the text as "he too stripped off his clothes." Even Samuel was naked.

The reason Saul felt no shame was that "God came upon him" and the usual norms were suspended. We may even speculate that, "for all that day and all that night," he had attained an Edenic state.


Nakedness in the Bible denoted shame, Adam and Eve after the fall, GOD Covered them... Noah's son was cursed because he saw his father's nakedness, there are other verses regarding nakedness... Like in the New Testament when Jesus approached the demoniac he lived near the tombs and was naked. Since we have an enemy who likes that sort of thing to have humanity be degraded I am thinking here that The Almighty allowed Saul to drop to a lowly state because of his disobedience.

GOD Is not mocked and Saul was plagued with an evil spirit that The Almighty allowed to plague Saul.

Obedience to GOD is critical, however, thannk GOD for Grace, and our Advocate, The LORD Jesus and thank GOD for 1John 1:9, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to cleanse us from our sins and all unrighteousness."


To Pat, who answered on May 17 at 20:23: No, God did Not cover them. They covered themselves. That is crystal clear in Genesis. Noah's son was not cursed because of seeing nakedness. Read Genesis 9:24. Ham was cursed because of what he DID. Accidentally walking into the tent and seeing naked Noah is not a condemnable offense. What did Ham DO? Read the verbs in Gen 9:22. He saw and he told. Ham failed to do what his brothers did--cover Noah. Why is that important? Why didn't they just leave Noah enclosed in the tent? Read Gen 9:21. This was well after the grape harvest, long enough for grapes to ferment into wine. Noah needed to be covered because It Was COLD. At worst, you might say SEEING nudity was a sin, but Ham got punished and he did Not go naked. Noah went naked and he did Not get Punished. These are fundamental Facts. -- The demoniac at the tombs? Yes, he went naked. Yes, later he is clothed. Where does the bible ever say nudity is a sin? What is the punishment for going naked? When neighboring countries had casual nudity. Romans had their public baths there in Israel. Why wouldn't God say nudity is a sin? Why did God tell His Formal Representatives (prophets) to go naked if it were a sin? -- Nudity COULD be part of various sinful acts, exactly like having a sword could be. But Jesus said "get a sword," Luke 22:36. Nudity also exists in innocent form, and nowhere does God specify naked is a sin. "Put on protective gear when in thorns" is not such a statement in any possible way, especially when Adam and Eve WERE ALREADY CLOTHED.

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    Once you have enough reputation you will be able to comment on other questions/answers. "Answers" are for answering the original question, which this does not. StackExchange is a Q/A site and is different than others.
    – agarza
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 17:12
  • Steve, This adds to your answer you gave earlier. I would add this into that answer and delete this one as it can be seen as a comment. Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 6:36

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