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In Genesis 3:6-10, the first recorded effect of Adam and Eve's sin is that they realized they were naked. Because of this, they sewed fig leaves together to make loincloths, but this isn't considered enough, as their dialogue with God reveals they were still naked. Instead, in Genesis 3:21, God made them tunics of skin.

While there are many contrasts that can be drawn between the fig-leaf loincloths and the tunics of skin, does the text suggest that the fig leaves were unable to cover nakedness (since it still suggests Adam and Eve were naked)? Thanks!

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    The point is not the extent of coverage. The symbolism is in the type of containment. They were clothed in the skin of another. They needed another humanity.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25 at 1:58
  • @NigelJ In the verses cited, isn't the problem that they were "naked" (i.e., not sufficiently clothed)? If so, then there's something about the tunic that resolves this problem in a way that the fig leaves did not, correct?
    – The Editor
    Aug 25 at 2:08
  • The nakedness is clearly symbolic, not physical. Therefore the resolution is symbolic, not physical.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25 at 2:10
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When God made Adam and Eve, He made them in His image. Throughout the Bible, that "image" is represented as being His perfect character, and the skin or its covering is a symbol of character.

For example, God says:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23, KJV)

This likens one's character to his skin. And in Revelation we also are given instructions to "wash our robes."

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14, KJV)

The sacrificial animals brought to the temple were not to have any blemish in their skin because they were to represent Jesus whose character was perfect and sinless just as the characters of Adam and Eve were sinless and perfect when they were created in God's image.

And how is God clothed?

Who coverest [thyself] with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: (Psalm 104:2, KJV)

[Note that the word "thyself" is supplied in the KJV and, if removed, could also apply to God's creation.]

God had created Adam and Eve in His likeness. As God was covered in a robe of light, so were they. But they lost this when they sinned. That is when they noticed that they were naked. They also felt a sense of chilliness which they hadn't noticed before.

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. (Genesis 3:8, KJV)

How well would fig leaves, or any green leaves for that matter, protect against the chill of the evening? Not very well, to be sure. God knew they needed something more.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21, KJV)

More than this, the leaves, as compared to the garments of skins, could not represent the remedy for the sin which had brought them into this need. The leaves, being purely of plant origin and without blood, could no more represent the sacrifice and cost to God that their sin had caused than could Cain's offering atone for his sin.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22, KJV)

The coats of skins which God made for the guilty pair cost the life of some animal(s). It was a lesson to both of them in how much their sin would cost. This lesson would have been entirely absent had the fig-leaf covering been sufficient to cover their shame.

So, both for physical warmth and protection, and for the spiritual lessons embodied in the representations made of them, there was a wide difference between the fig-leaf coverings Adam and Eve had made for themselves and the coverings of skin which God made for them.

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  • Thanks for the answer! Would you agree that 1) a problem was nakedness, 2) the fig leaves did not stop the nakedness, and 3) the tunics of skin did?
    – The Editor
    Aug 26 at 2:02
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The fig leaves vs the tunics made of animal skin for Adam and Eve, is the same matter as with Cain's offering of vegetable and fruit vs the sacrificial lamb, Gen 4.

Adam and Eve's coverings for their nakedness were man-made; the tunics of animal skin, given by God, meant that some sacrificial animal had died to provide a covering in their sinful state.

This is alluded to again in other places, especially in Isaiah:

  • Isa 64:6 - Each of us has become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind. [Cloth/rag is made of cotton or some other plant fiber.]
  • Isa 61:10 - I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom wears a priestly headdress, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Rev 19:8 appears to allude to Isaiah - a robe of righteousness from God given to the bride of the Lamb.

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  • Excellent answer. You have made very good connections. But I think that it goes deeper than this. Check my answer and let me know what you think. Aug 26 at 1:10
  • Thanks for the answer! Would you agree that 1) a problem was nakedness, 2) the fig leaves did not stop the nakedness, and 3) the tunics of skin did?
    – The Editor
    Aug 26 at 1:59
  • @ארקדיוס - I liked your answer but it suffers from the shortcoming of being by inference rather that simple comparison. That is not to suggest it is wrong - I think both are correct.
    – Dottard
    Aug 26 at 3:28
  • @TheEditor - both garments cover nakedness but the skin was (a) given by God and (b) involved a sacrificial animal and so were a reminder of the coming Messiah. The fig leaves were man-made and therefore represented man's attempt at righteousness.
    – Dottard
    Aug 26 at 3:29
  • @Dottard I think those points are worthy of consideration. There are a lot of contrasts. Regarding the covering of nakedness, would 3:10-11 suggest that they were naked even after making the fig-leaf loincloths?
    – The Editor
    Aug 26 at 22:43
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Dottard's answer is excellent. But I would like to add a few things.

The Hebrew word for tunic is ketonet כְּתֹנֶת. It is only used for Adam and Eve's coats of skins, Joseph's coat of many colours, Tamar's coat of many colours and finally tunics of fine linen for Aaron and his sons (Levitical priests). So we can already see some priestly allusions. Adam and Eve supposed to be a kingdom of priests in Eden.

Adam and Eve's nakedness before sin although neutral suggests incompleteness. I believe that they were going to be clothed by God with robes of "light". Transfigured Christ (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9; Revelation 1) as well as angels always wear radiant white robes. As if made of light. That is what the white linen tunics of a priests pointed to.

I also link Isaiah 61:10 (garments of salvation (yesha/Yeshua) with Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27 & Colossians 10.

Additionally, there is an interesting word play. Light in Hebrew is אוֹר. Skin in Hebrew is עוֹר. Both words are pronounced the same. Or. So although tunics of skins and tunics of light sound the same, they are two different things and symbolize two different realities. Instead of putting the tunic of light/righteousness, Adam was clothed in the tunic of skins. Which was still a great promise of hope. Because what was lost in Adam is fully restored in Jesus.

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  • Thanks for the answer! Would you agree that 1) a problem was nakedness as in not having enough clothing, that 2) the fig leaves did not stop the nakedness, and that 3) the tunics of skin did?
    – The Editor
    Aug 26 at 2:00
  • Yes. But symbolically the tunic of skin just like the law was meant to be temporary. Sep 1 at 0:54
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God commanded Adam in Genesis 2:

17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Despite this warning, Adam and Eve disobeyed in Genesis 3:

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Now they would learn about the consequences of sin and dying. To attempt to cover their shame/sin,

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.

In the eyes of God, this was not enough to cover their sin.

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Someone or some animal had to die; blood had to be shed to cover sin.

Leviticus 7:

8 The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself.

What would the tunics of skin have covered that the loincloths would not? Did the fig leaves only cover their waist whereas the tunics covered shoulders to knees, perhaps?

It might be true that the animal skin had provided more coverage than the fig leaves. However, the point wasn't which garment provided more outward coverage on their bodies. The point had to do with inner shame and sin. Fig leaves only provided a superficial covering. God wanted to deal with the deeper issue of a guilty conscience. Blood had to be shed. Vicarious death had to happen. Adam and Eve had to learn the lesson of disobeying God.

In Genesis 3, what's the difference between the fig-leaf loincloths (v. 7) and tunics of skin (v. 21)?

Fig-leaf was man's attempt to cover shame/sin. God's way needed blood and vicarious death.

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  • Thanks for the answer, while the big point would be the animal skins, would you agree that 1) a problem was nakedness as in not having enough clothing, that 2) the fig leaves did not stop the nakedness, and that 3) the tunics of skin did?
    – The Editor
    Aug 26 at 2:01
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    Agreed. I accommodate both the horizontal (physical) reasons as well as the vertical (spiritual) reasons whenever they make sense to do so. This is the beauty of Co-Reality Hermeneutics.
    – Tony Chan
    Aug 26 at 13:45
  • I see. There are a lot of angles from which to view the contrast in clothing.
    – The Editor
    Aug 26 at 22:45

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