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In the beginning, God made woman from the side of man to be his helper. At that time, apparently, both were unclothed, and obviously, at that time, clothing did not exist. Only those two people, one male and one female, existed.

Genesis 2:

23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Adam and Eve were the only two people on earth. Genesis 24 states they were one. The intimacy between a husband and wife negates clothing. So, how is it that they recognized they were naked if nakedness was an unknown concept?

The word 'naked', as used in these verses, has to be a description of something else. What is it?

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    Could it just be that, upon eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they ended up getting the knowledge of (literal) nakedness? The fact that they sewed fig leaves to try making themselves coverings seems to confirm that literal nakedness is under discussion (Genesis 3:6-7).
    – The Editor
    Jun 10, 2022 at 1:33
  • I view of the fact that they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness, then naked in Gen 2 & 3 means simply, no clothes. Why would you believe is has some other meaning?
    – Dottard
    Jun 10, 2022 at 3:00
  • Compare them with a 6-month old baby, which is naked and feels no shame. Jun 10, 2022 at 12:37
  • Naked, as defined today, has a specific meaning but it does not make sense in this application. Nakedness (nudity) was a normal, integral way of life for these two people. However, another synonym of naked is unadorned. Unadorned fits better. “They were naked (unadorned) and felt no shame”. God created man in His image, but man is not as beautiful as God. “And he [God] said, “Who told you that you were unadorned [different from me]? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” They tried to make themselves more beautiful because they felt shame in the presence of God.
    – Ray
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:00

3 Answers 3

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A good way to explain this entails first understanding what the respective trees were - and why partaking of one of them immediately caused them to feel shame, or guilt, and to view each other, and God, differently. But because you did not ask about those trees (only the resulting shame at realising their nakedness), I can only make a few bald statements which space will not permit me to enlarge upon, given that the question is about clothes and not trees.

With regard to clothing, Genesis 2:25, "they were both naked and felt no shame". The NIV Study Bible (1987 edition) has a note which says "Freedom from shame, signifying moral innocence, would soon be lost as a result of sin - see 3:7." Also, verses 10 & 11 use the same word as in verse 7, very slightly different, but likewise meaning the same thing. Those last three occurrences of what is translated "naked" only became associated with shame after they had disobeyed God.

This is why knowing what they did is crucial to grasping why they then felt shame. Here is the concluding point on this, from a book that takes many pages to explain the symbolism of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

"The tree itself represents righteousness. But not the same righteousness [as represented by the tree of life]. Another righteousness. For there are two standards of righteousness, and two ways of righteousness, from one end of the Bible to the other. And two only.

The first has been shown to signify the righteousness of faith, that is, the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ... there is only one other way of righteousness: it is the righteousness of the law. This must be attained by works commensurate and consistent with its standard.

Such a legal standard gives no righteousness; rather, it gives the knowledge of righteousness, commanding good and prohibiting evil. It is therefore the knowledge of good and evil, and requires works equal to the rectitude which it describes...

Therefore, dimly, in the most veiled symbol - as was the tree of life yet in essential principle, the tree of knowledge of good and evil set forth the righteousness of the law, or, in a word, the concept of works...

It was not in man in innocence, and it is not in man in the Fall, to find anything in the righteousness of the law save the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the unalterable cursing of death. 'Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God' Romans 3:19." Creation, pp 151-154, John Metcalfe

To be innocent is to be free from guilt. To know guilt - which is hand in glove with shame - is to have lost innocence. That is why the couple instantly felt shame, as expressed in their feeble attempt to make fig-leaf coverings for themselves, and to hide from God. Their clean consciences had become sullied by their act of disobedience. They wanted to cover-up and to hide. From God. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" - Romans 3:20. This new-found knowledge was knowing experientially what sin was. They had sinned against God, their Maker, lost their innocence, felt shame, and wanted to cover-up and hide.

That, I suggest, is what this concept of nakedness is in Genesis 2 & 3.

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  • Up-voted +1. Only edited for a miniscule typo.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 11, 2022 at 7:26
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Actually, two different words are used that sound almost the same and both mean, literally, naked, ie, without clothes. They are:

  • עָרוֹם (arom) Gen 2:25, 1 Sam 19:24, Job 1:21, 22:6, 24:7, 10, 26:6, Eccl 5:15, Isa 20:2, 3, 4, 58:7, Hos 2:3, Amos 2:16, Mic 1:8.
  • עֵירֹם (erom) Gen 3:7, 10, 11, Deut 28:48, Eze 16:7, 22, 39, 18:7, 16, 23:29.

Just why it took sin to make Adam and Eve realize they had no clothes we are not told. All that we are told is that their realization of nakedness was accompanied by shame at being naked.

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    Thank you for your answer. It appears A&E did not need 'clothes' (a covering) as God created them just as He wanted them and He accepted them just the way they were. They, in turn, initially accepted that they were no different than God and lived with Him. Clothing is also a dressing for being more beautiful and this word encompasses the concept of 'adding to'. A&E were created in God's image but were not equals of God. God's knowledge is infinite. Please read my comment above. I wish with all of my heart that I could read and understand ancient Hebrew.
    – Ray
    Jun 10, 2022 at 13:22
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You have given an excellent analysis. Romans 7:14 says the law is spiritual, which led me to believe that this emphasizes that Adam and Eve were naked of the knowledge of good and evil. They broke god’s law, ate the knowledge, and lost their clothing of glory and god’s spirit, leaving a human spirit. Adam’s sin incurred a debt he or no man could pay, but Jesus did!

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