Why Did Adam And Eve Notice Their Nakedness After They Sinned?

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It is written:

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

When God made Adam and Eve, everything was perfect (Genesis 1:31). Adam and Eve were naked together, enjoying sexual activity within the bonds of marriage, and they were unashamed (Genesis 2:23-25). This is not surprising, since God had sanctified sex from the beginning of the Creation. He told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), obviously referencing His blessing upon sex.

However, when Adam and Eve sinned, the Bible says that they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together (an obvious sign of shame).

What happened?

Why would the nakedness of Adam and Eve be the first thing that they noticed when they ate from the the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6)?

Let’s study.

First, the nakedness of Adam and Eve was known to them before their sin in the Garden; yet there was no shame attached to this (Genesis 2:25). The incident with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did something to altar their perception of their nakedness. In other words, something about Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit of the tree tree of the knowledge of good and evil had some direct relationship to their realizing their nakedness. Since they were already sexually active before the Fall in the Garden, Adam and Eve’s nakedness was likely therefore not related to some kind of sexual activity.

Second, it is important to realize that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did not impart some kind of new intellectual knowledge to Adam and Eve. They already knew intellectually what was right and wrong, for God had explained it to them before they sinned (Genesis 2:16-17).

“We also learn in Genesis 2 that there is one command that humanity needs to observe, the prohibition of eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2: 16–17). What is at stake with the prohibition? Certainly eating from the tree would not give them access to new knowledge in the sense of intellectual comprehension. They already know what is good and evil. It is wrong to eat of the tree. The significance of the tree and therefore the act of eating is that it would lead to the experience (the doing) of evil. And Eve, after a futile attempt to defend God from ridicule as if he had commanded them not to eat from any tree, and Adam, who does not even say anything before eating, commit evil by disregarding God’s prerogative to define what is good and evil and instead arrogate that right to themselves. The results are disastrous.” (Tremper Longman III, Confronting Old Testament Controversies: Pressing Questions about Evolution, Sexuality, History, and Violence, 213-214 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books)

Third, when we consider the extra-biblical books of the account of Adam and Eve, we gain more perspective to their nakedness.

One such book is known as the The Life Of Adam And Eve (also known by the title The Apocalypse Of Moses). This was an ancient Jewish historical book that is actually referenced in the Bible. References to this book in the Bible include the famous statement of the “king of Babylon” in Isaiah 14:12-15, Paul’s reference to Satan as “an angel of light” in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, and John’s heavenly vision in Revelation 12:1-12.

““The Life of Adam and Eve is primarily a midrashic interpretation of Genesis 3–5 that provides readers with a vision of the post-garden experiences of Adam and Eve. 1 Although Slavonic and Armenian manuscripts exist, the earliest known accounts of the stories have been transmitted in a Greek text (LAE or Apoc. Mos.) and a Latin text (Vita). Vita survives in several manuscripts, the earliest of which dates to the ninth century AD and others from the fourteenth and fifteenth. Several scholars suggest there was an original Hebrew text from the first century BC from which a Greek translation was written in the first century AD. 2 The Latin text is likely translated from the Greek, but possibly also from the Hebrew, between the second and fourth centuries AD. 3 However, the significant differences between the content of the Greek and Latin versions suggest a complicated translation process. The Function of Angels. Both versions of the Life of Adam and Eve describe the events in the garden with significant details not present in Genesis. There are noteworthy references to angelic beings, including four archangels4 and the leader Michael. 5 Michael performs important functions, including escorting the body and soul of Adam after his death (Vita 22: 2). He also serves as the primary messenger between God and humanity (LAE 2: 1; 3: 2; 49: 2). He appears to follow a similar role of the chief angelic being seen in Revelation 12. The Function of Satan. In addition to describing good angels, LAE and Vita also refer numerous times to the Satan/ devil figure. One of this figure’s main functions or tasks is to inspire humanity to sin through “his evil poison, which is his covetousness” (LAE 19: 3; 25: 4; 28: 3; Vita 15: 3; 17: 1). He is also responsible for various sicknesses in the natural world, along with death (LAE 2: 4; 14: 2; 8: 2; 10–12; 20: 3; Vita 34–35; 37–39). 6 Vita 17: 1 points out that one other function of Satan, at least according to the cry of Adam, is that he seeks to destroy the souls of humanity. Deception is clearly his primary mode of operation, for we are told Satan disguises himself with the brilliance of an angel in his second effort to entice Eve to turn from the path of the Lord (Vita 9: 1–5; cf. “messenger of light,” 2 Cor 11: 14). The Fall of Satan. One of the major content differences between the two versions is the inclusion of the account of the fall of Satan in the Latin Vita (12: 1–17: 3), which is missing in the Greek LAE. The Satan account in Vita affirms Satan is a preexistent fallen angel, but preexistent only in relation to humanity, not necessarily in relation to the creation event itself. In this account the devil himself describes the reason for his fall from heaven—he blames Adam for this catastrophe (“ because of you I was cast out onto the earth,” 12: 1). In Vita 13: 2, the devil explains that when humanity (Adam) was created, God blew into Adam the breath of life, and he was created in the image of God. Michael, the chief archangel in heaven, brought Adam before all the angels and made the angels worship Adam in the presence of God (13: 3). Michael sets the example for the angels as he “worships the image of the Lord God” and then calls on the devil to “worship the image of God, YHWH.” The devil, however, refuses Michael’s instruction, stating, “I do not worship Adam.” Nevertheless, Michael continues to compel him and others to do so (14: 2–3). The devil then states his reason for refusing: “I will not worship one who is inferior to me, who was created after me; therefore, he should worship me.” The author states that the devil has angels who operate under him (15: 1), and they too refuse to worship Adam. Michael gives them another opportunity to worship Adam or face the wrath of the Lord (15: 2). The devil responds with a threat of utter rebellion in which he states he “will set his throne about the stars of heaven and will be like the Most High” (15: 3). This may allude to a tradition of rebellion expressed in Isaiah 14: 13–14 in which the king of Babylon sets his throne above the throne of God. In Vita 16: 1, the devil states that because of this rebellion, the Lord sent the devil and his angels out from the glory of heaven, which had been theirs until that day, and cast them on the earth (cf. Rev 12: 8–9). As we will see, this account provides potential background for the vision reported in Revelation 12.” (Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism, 109-111 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan Academic)

With this in mind, consider what this book says about the sin in the Garden of Eden:

“[EVE CONTINUED,] “IN that very hour, my eyes were opened, and immediately I knew that I was naked of the righteousness with which I had been clothed, and I cried and said to him, ‘Why have you done this to me in that you have deprived me of the glory with which I was clothed?’” “But I cried also about the oath, which I had sworn. But he descended from the tree and vanished. I began to seek, in my nakedness, in my part for leaves to hide my shame, but I found none, for, as soon as I had eaten, the leaves fell from all the trees in my part of Paradise, except the fig tree only. So I took leaves from it and made for myself a girdle and it was from the very same plant of which I had eaten.” Apocalypse of Moses–Chapter 21 [EVE CONTINUED,] “I cried out in that very hour, ‘Adam, Adam, where are you? Rise, come to me and I will show you a great secret.’” “But when your father came, I spoke to him words of transgression. For, when he came, I opened my mouth and the devil was speaking, and I began to exhort him and said, ‘Come here, my lord Adam, listen to me and eat of the fruit of the tree of which God told us not to eat of it, and you will be as a God.’” “Your father answered, ‘I fear in case God will be angry with me.’” “I answered him, ‘Don’t be afraid, for as soon as you have eaten you will know good and evil.’” “Quickly I persuaded him, and he ate and straightway his eyes were opened and he too knew his nakedness. To me, he said, ‘Wicked woman! What have I done to you that you have deprived me of the glory of God?’”” (Scriptural Research Institute, The Life of Adam and Eve Collection, 43-44 (Kindle Edition); Scriptural Research Institute)

Notice from this account, the “nakedness” that Adam and Eve experienced was not in regard to each other, so much as it was in regard to God. Indeed, Adam says that by his sin, had had been deprived of “the glory of God.”

Another ancient work elaborates upon this.

Known collectively as The Forgotten Books Of Eden, this work elaborates upon the history of Adam and Eve after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. One of these books, the First Book of Adam And Eve, has an interesting history:

“That the Adam and Eve story pervaded the thoughts of ancient writers is seen in the large number of versions that exist, or whose existence may be traced, through the writings of Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, Abyssinians, Hebrews, and other ancient peoples. As a lawyer might say who examines so much apparently unrelated evidence–there must be something back of it. The version which we give here is the work of unknown Egyptians (the lack of historical allusion makes it impossible to date the writing). Parts of this version are found in the Talmud, the Koran, and elsewhere, showing what a vital rôle it played in the original literature of human wisdom. The Egyptian author first wrote in Arabic (which may be taken as the original manuscript) and that found its way farther south and was translated into Ethiopic. For the present English translation we are indebted to Dr. S. C. Malan, Vicar of Broadwindsor, who worked from the Ethiopic edition edited by Dr. E. Trumpp, Professor at the University of Munich. Dr. Trumpp had the advantage of the Arabic original, which makes our bridge over the gap of many centuries a direct one.” (Rutherford H. Platt Jr., The Forgotten Books of Eden, 10-11 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Alpha House; Kindle Edition published by Evinity Publishing Inc)

With this in mind, this book tells us about several effects of the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

“8 And Adam said to Eve, “Look at thine eyes, and at mine, which afore beheld angels in heaven, praising; and they, too, without ceasing. 9 “But now we do not see as we did: our eyes have become of flesh; they cannot see in like manner as they saw before.”” (Rutherford H. Platt Jr., The Forgotten Books of Eden, 17 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Alpha House; Kindle Edition published by Evinity Publishing Inc)

Here, we see the idea that at one time before the Fall, Adam and Eve were somehow able to peer into the spirit world and see things which (to our eyes) have now been veiled, as a result of the Transgression. As we will see, this is tied directly in this book to the idea of Adam and Eve’s nakedness in the Garden after the Fall.

“And the Lord said unto Adam and Eve, “You transgressed of your own free will, until you came out of the garden in which I had placed you. 5 “Of your own free will have you transgressed through your desire for divinity, greatness, and an exalted state, such as I have; so that I deprived you of the bright nature in which you then were, and I made you come out of the garden to this land, rough and full of trouble. 6 “If only you had not transgressed My commandment and had kept My law, and had not eaten of the fruit of the tree, near which I told you not to come! And there were fruit trees in the garden better than that one. 7 “But the wicked Satan who continued not in his first estate, nor kept his faith; in whom was no good intent towards Me, and who though I had created him, yet set Me at naught, and sought the Godhead, so that I hurled him down from heaven,–he it is who made the tree appear pleasant in your eyes, until you ate of it, by hearkening to him. 8 “Thus have you transgressed My commandment, and therefore have I brought upon you all these sorrows. 9 “For I am God the Creator, who, when I created My creatures, did not intend to destroy them. But after they had sorely roused My anger, I punished them with grievous plagues, until they repent. 10 “But, if on the contrary, they still continue hardened in their transgression, they shall be under a curse for ever.”” (Rutherford H. Platt Jr., The Forgotten Books of Eden, 19-20 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Alpha House; Kindle Edition published by Evinity Publishing Inc)

Here, we see another important fact: when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, one of the consequences was that they had been denied of their “bright nature.”

We read again:

“THEN Adam wept and said, “O God, when we dwelt in the garden, and our hearts were lifted up, we saw the angels that sang praises in heaven, but now we do not see as we were used to do; nay, when we entered the cave, all creation became hidden from us.” 2 Then God the Lord said unto Adam, “When thou wast under subjection to Me, thou hadst a bright nature within thee, and for that reason couldst thou see things afar off. But after thy transgression thy bright nature was withdrawn from thee; and it was not left to thee to see things afar off, but only near at hand; after the ability of the flesh; for it is brutish.”” (Rutherford H. Platt Jr., The Forgotten Books of Eden, 22 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Alpha House; Kindle Edition published by Evinity Publishing Inc)

Adam and Eve were covered in a “bright nature” before the sin in the Garden of Eden; yet afterwards, this “bright nature” was taken away.

Adam and Eve were somehow covered (or “clothed”) in the light of God’s Presence before their sin in the Garden. This covering was “the glory of God,” and when this light was withdrawn they were able to literally see the nakedness of their flesh.

We see something slimier in the Old Testament:

Exodus 24:29-35-Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 30  So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31  Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32  Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33  And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34  But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35  And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

When Moses was in the Presence of God, he was literally glowing from the radiance of the Lord. Paul referred to this incident in 2 Corinthians, and explains that Moses being covered by the light of God was being covered by His “glory.”

2 Corinthians 3:7, 9, 10, 18-But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,…For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.…But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

As noted above, Adam pointed out that the sin resulting in his nakedness led to the glory of God fleeing him. This “glory of God” had reference to the light of God which covered His people.

The reason that Adam and Eve knew their nakedness after this sin is that the light of God’s Presence withdrew from them (literally), and they were ashamed. This shame was not because of sex: it was because of their shame before God, which was now known to them since His light which had been clothing their bodies was now gone.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only real Answer to our problem of sin and shame. He died for us, bearing our shame (Isaiah 53). He was buried, and He arose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). When we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (John 8:24), repent of our sins and confess Him (Luke 13:3; Romans 10:9-10), we can be baptized into Him where we are forgiven and “clothed” with Him.

Galatians 3:26-27-For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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