Adam and Eve thought that they were naked after having eaten the forbidden fruit.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Did the fig leaves not cover his nakedness?


8 Answers 8


Two different nakednesses are in view here. The fig leaves covered his physical nakedness but did nothing to quench his awareness that his newly defiled conscience was naked before God. The sequence bears this out:

Their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked, they made fig leaf coverings for their nakedness, they heard God coming and hid because they were naked, God did not deny their nakedness even though they were covered with fig leaves. This distinguishes between physical and spiritual nakedness and prioritizes the spiritual. We are all naked before God in this same sense and, unless He Himself clothe us, we shall seek to hide our nakedness by feeble, useless human effort.

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. - Hebrews 4:13

Adam was able to provide himself physical covering but the spiritual covering he needed was something only God could provide. God therefore sought him out in order to bring conviction, judgement, and atonement/covering.

And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. - Genesis 3:21

Many have seen in this a foreshadowing of the death of the Son of God on our behalf. That God himself shed the first blood to make the first covering for the first sin.

  • Up-voted +1. Personally, I see the coats of skins being another humanity. The nakedness is the lack of a humanity that is yet to come. And fig leaves is not enough.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 14:42
  • @Nigel Sure. Or that righteousness from God that we need to be clothed in. I've actually spoken with people who believe Adam and Eve were created without actual, literal skin and that God, here, added that additional organ in v. 21! Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 19:55
  • "Two different nakednesses are in view here." Maybe, but how do you know for sure?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 9:02
  • @curiousdannii Mostly because their eyes were opened, they knew they were naked, they covered themselves with fig leaves, then still hid because they were naked. This probably makes spiritual nakedness primary. Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 13:53
  • Martin Luther took the “covering” concept so literally that he compared humans to dung-heaps covered by snow (the “covering” provided by Jesus): when the snow melts, we still are, according to Luther, the same old and smelly dung-heaps … yuck … Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 14:37

Nakedness was not the problem... Because prior to eating ...

GEN 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The awareness of ‘nakedness’ came about because...

GEN 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.

The “key’ to understanding this verse is helped by looking at the Hebrew word behind ‘knew’. yāḏaʿ. Which means ‘perceived’, or an ‘inward intuition’.

What were they ‘sensing’? We find the answer to this in Romans. Paul is explaining that all have an intuitive inward sense of Gods wrath, which comes from them intuitively ‘knowing’ that they are unrighteous.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

So after eating, because of their now unrighteous state, they had an inward ‘sense’ of Gods wrath, hence they were afraid, fearful, of what? - Gods wrath. So they hid.

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.”

It was their unrighteousness that needed covering. The Hebrew behind ‘naked’ (ʿêrōm) means uncovered. God is righteous, and the presence of righteousness exposes unrighteousness. But it’s this inward ‘perception’ that man tries to suppress, hence the fig leaves.

Man (Adam) was righteous. He had Gods righteousness. Via his spirit. Adam communed with God is his spirit. But, when he ‘ate’, his spirit (he) died - instantly, just as God said would happen. Man became unrighteous (Sin). And covering with leaves was an outward expression of an inward state.

Man became sin. All unrighteous is ‘sin’. So the issue wasn’t disobedience (sin - verb), but rather unrighteousness (Sin-noun). It wasn’t so much about what man ‘did’, it was about what man had become. And, through unrighteousness, Man was now separated from God. And that unrighteousness is what religion tries to reverse, and what unbelievers try to suppress


Adam said, "...I was naked" - past tense. So I don't think he was still naked and he didn't say that he was now naked while he was talking with God. I'm sorry but I think the question is flawed. Where does it say that Adam thinks he is "still naked"? That seems to be an incorrect assumption on the reader's part.

If they took the time to sew fig leaves together then they would have put their new clothes on. They wanted to cover their nakedness. I take Adam's statement as an excuse for hiding. He was uncleverly lying to God about why he is really hiding (fear) by making up the excuse that he was naked and hoping God would accept this excuse and assume he and Eve needed some time to sew clothes together. He knows he did something wrong and is afraid. He is panicking and doesn't realize that saying he was naked is an admission of his new knowledge and, subsequently, of his obvious guilt of eating the forbidden fruit. Adam is new to this "sinning" idea and doesn't realize he is only compounding his bad situation. As man's first lie, it's about impressive as a 3-year-old's attempt and that makes sense. I'm an atheist BTW and of course I wouldn't read much more than this into his nakedness statement.

  • +1 From your admittedly atheist standpoint this is a sensible argument and I believe there is some truth to it. Did you know that many good literal translations render it as "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?'? Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 14:08
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    Of course there's also something incredibly incongruous about hiding from and lying to an omniscient God (God asking "Where are you?" must be rhetorical). But as you say, he wasn't really clever about it.
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 16:20
  • @MikeBorden I looked it up on biblehub.com and of the 39 translations 6 use the present tense. And 3 of 3 under Literal use the present tense. I don't know what to make of this. I am not a bible scholar. It does make me think of the argument that if an all powerful God wanted to us to know the truth: Why couldn't he have done a better job of it? A translation is rarely exact and often open to good argument.
    – Mark Wood
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 15:42
  • I can remember doing something naughty and hiding from my Dad when he came home. "Why were you hiding?", he might say (because he has found me even though I am still in hiding). "I was scared.", I might answer (when the truth is I am still scared). Part of the discrepancy is just the difficulty of going from one language to another. Another part, though, is us trying to be too scientific with language. There is some value in access to a concordance but a plain, easy reading of the text avails much if it can be seen as human dialogue, prose, etc. rather than Divine dictation (IMHO). Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 1:26
  • Thought that was what I was doing.
    – Mark Wood
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 3:52

Adam said "ואירא כי עירם אנכי" — "and-I-was-afraid because naked I". There's no verb, thus no tense, in the second clause. He could have meant "I was afraid because I had been naked", "I was afraid because I was naked", or "I was afraid because I am naked". (The present tense of "be" is usually omitted in Hebrew.) When he heard God, he was not then naked, having made a garment of fig leaves, but he had been naked.


Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

This only covers their physical nakedness.

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

They hid because they felt shame. They felt shame because they had disobeyed God. Their consciences told them they were guilty. Hiding from God was how they dealt with their guilt.

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Why was Adam afraid? Because he was naked?

No, not really, it was because he felt guilt in his conscience. The feeling of guilt was a new sensation to Adam. He didn't know how to handle it.

This was the critical moment for Adam to confess his disobedience. At this point, he should have said, "I'm sorry. I have disobeyed you and ate the forbidden fruit."

Adam missed this critical moment. Instead of dealing with the deeper issue of disobedience, he only pointed out the superficial problem of being naked.

11“Who told you that you were naked?” asked the LORD God. “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

God pointed out the real issue to Adam.

Why did Adam think that he was still naked in Genesis 3:10?

Because he could not face the deeper issue of being guilty of disobeying God.

  • I wonder if Adam actually knew what it meant to ask for forgiveness. He had only just learned the personal experience of sin!
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 15:56
  • Good point. I deleted that part.
    – user35953
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 15:58
  • 1
    @Adam What difference would it have made if Adam had of asked for forgiveness?
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 17:40
  • 1
    @Dave...a big difference, Adam would have become God. For a perfect being, asking forgiveness was a life's experience he had no knowledge of... That would have needed to be explained to him by God...in the same way God had to show Adam how to make proper clothes for himself by killing a live sheep, skinning it, tanning said skin, and fashioning it into a garment!
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 11:36

The straightforward reading of the text is that although they had made the clothes, they hadn't put them on yet. Hence, they were still naked when they hear God.

Note that in Genesis 3:21, God makes garments for Adam and Eve, and this is the first time in the text where it says they were actually clothed.

  • 1
    That makes sense. Maybe it was like if they'd wrapped a towel around themselves... not technically naked, but not in a state where they'd want to see their friends, or God!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 22:58
  • @curiousdannii Ya, that's an interesting mid-way point. Might be they had wrapped some leaves around themselves, but were still in a significant sense 'naked'. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 23:00

TLDR: Fig leaves might cover Adam’s nakedness physically, but not meta-physically. He therefore wants to hide from God, his clothing notwithstanding.

Long answer

Let us recall what made Adam and Eve aware of their nakedness. They had eaten of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. The snake had explained that, ‘[…] when you eat from [the tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’. Exactly that happens:

  • Adam’s and Eve’s eyes open. Now they can see. They become self-conscious. The verse is a theological description of the dawn of human consciousness.
  • They gain knowledge of good and evil.

The question arises: How does the knowledge of good and evil relate to human consciousness? Let us look at, for example, a pack of hyaenas hunting and killing a zebra. Common answer to the question as to whether the hyaenas are evil as they hurt and kill a zebra is, No. ‘Why?’ ‘Because they don’t know what they are doing.’ Hyaenas are considered not evil as they are not conscious of their act of hunting, hurting or killing. Adam and Eve, however, are now self-conscious (‘their eyes had been opened’). They know that they can be hurt, and how they can be unjustly hurt. Most importantly they now know how to unjustly hurt other people, which they can infer from what could unjustly hurt themselves. So they know what kind of action a person could take that would render said person evil. Adam and Eve gain knowledge of good and evil due to their heightened consciousness.

Even with the ‘imperfect’ attempt to physically protect their body from injury using fig leaves as clothing, Adam and Eve still know that they can be hurt. Clothing might secure them to some extent for the moment, but not perfectly, let alone indefinitely. So they hide amongst the trees when they hear God as He is walking in the garden. Adam and Eve are hiding at a place, at which they can indefinitely make new clothing from leaves of the fig trees around them, should they need more. Nonetheless they fear God, Who as the snake told us also ‘know[s] good and evil’ and therefore how to hurt others. As Adam and Eve know good and evil, they know that others (including God) could hurt them.

Hiding amongst the trees does not close Adam’s and Eve’s eyes again. Even though they are hiding for the moment, Adam and Eve still know that they might get hurt in the future (be it by God or someone else). Adam and Eve might not be physically naked in the moment of verse 3:10, but they are meta-physically naked, or (allow me to say) meta-naked.

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    – agarza
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 23:07

Just as someone who walks out of a shower wearing only a towel is "naked but covered", so Adam and Eve were yet naked while they were covered. They were not dressed/clothed, they had only figleaf coverings/aprons, which probably only covered them as well as loincloths or otherwise as poorly as portrayed in most depictions of them wearing figleaves.

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    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 11:44
  • +1 This is my view... straightforward. Simplest explanation.
    – Austin
    Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 4:31