Garments of Skins (Genesis 3:21)

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Thomas, Aug 23, 2021.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them
    Genesis 3:21

    In the previous chapter, we read: "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (2:25). This is the last verse of Chapter 2.

    The opening verse of Chapter 3 – the very next verse on the scroll – introduces the serpent:
    "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made...

    The Hebrew term for naked in 2:25 is arom.
    The Hebrew term for subtle in 3:1 is arum.

    In fact the terms for 'naked' and 'subtle' derive from the Hebrew root aram: 'to make bare, to be subtle, crafty or cunning'.

    Arom is contranym (a word that is its own opposite – an English example is 'cleave', which can mean to cling to, or to separate; 'dust', which can mean remove dust from, or apply dust to).

    There are both Jewish and Christian sources that hold that before the fall, Adam and Eve were clothed in light. This became intermingled with Hellenic speculation to say that the Primordial Pair were creatures of light only, purely spiritual beings, rather than creatures of spirit and matter, this despite the clear indication to the contrary, and this despite the union of spirit and matter was seen by God to be the finishing act of creation, the act that was not simply good, as were the works of the five previous days.

    Even Origen, who taught himself Hebrew (one of a very few Fathers to do so), held that the soul was enfleshed to arrest its fall – based on Platonic thinking.

    Hebrew is a mythopoeic language, very idiomatic, metaphoric, and figurative. Contranyms, homonyms (sound alike words), a range of literary forms and devices are used to help explain spiritual concepts. Hebrew speaks to the senses whereas the Hellenic appeals to the intellect.

    Note: Hebrew is neither deficient in intellectual rigour nor lacking in spiritual insight, to assume that is to make a gross mistake. Rather, the Hebrew mindset knows "a picture is worth a thousand words" and if I labour this point, it is for two reasons:
    1: Christianity lost touch with its Hebrew roots and this was a great loss;
    2: The modern tendency to read 'esoteric' meaning into Hebrew texts, based on an Hellenic mindset, leads to error, rather than enlightenment.

    In this case, it is neither coincidence nor chance that the Hebrew word for light and the word for skin sound the same: ohr:

    אוֹר Light (aleph)

    עוֹר Skin (ahyin)

    The only difference is the first letter (reading from right to left). Light begins with aleph, a letter heavily associated with God, and skin begins with ahyin, the letter that also means 'eye'.
    Both aleph and ahyin are silent letters. They have no sound aside from the vowel associated with them.

    In our words above, the vowel is shown by the letter vav with the dot on top, which is called a cholem vav. The last letter is a resh, an “r” sound that pictographically means “a man’s head.”

    By simply looking at the pictographic meaning of these words, both have a heart that connects. Vav means 'to link, connect, or hook together'. It is also the number 6, the creation day for both beast and man. In the verses above in Genesis, the text presents us with a beast (snake) that speaks like a man.

    The other Hebrew letters for each word reveals what light and skin connects or links one with. In the case of light, the head (resh) is connected to God (aleph), the Father. But in the case of skin, the head (resh) is connected to only what one’s eyes (ahyin) can see (flesh/natural).

    "Rabbinic insight is that the clothing of Adam and Eve was glory, or radiance ... The white light is the same covering of the Bride of Messiah in Revelation. The Bride reflects the Lamp of the New Jerusalem, the Lamb. In terms of the menorah, there was a spiritual covering over the first couple’s earthly bodies, a covering or radiance pictured when Moses spoke with Adonai on the mountain, receiving the Torah covenant for Israel. Like the Holy One in whose image they were made, they had corresponding covers of light like garments.” (Dr. Alewine in The Creation Gospel Workbook Four: The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread, p. 175).

    Again, this light is of great significance to the Essenes, it figures in the Transfiguration of Christ, and is used in the Johannine writings.

    "The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (3:4-5)

    The serpent implies that Adam and Eve are 'blind' in some way. They were (outwardly, or physically or materially) naked but had no shame, because they saw with 'spiritual eyes' that looked beyond the surface to the truth and hearty of things, they saw with understanding and insight in the light of Elohim.

    This was the serpent's deception, a minor truth to cover the greater lie.

    The eyes of them both were opened to the material world because they lost that spiritual luminescence, that insight. They saw only the surface of things, they saw themselves as separate, as other, as distinct, as naked ... and felt shame, and hid.

    In their disobedience, they forfeited the Light, the Grace of God.

    More to be uncovered here
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Further thoughts:

    In an online essay available here, by Ismar Schorsch, Professor of Jewish History and Chancellor Emeritus of JTS.

    Without some knowledge of Hebrew, it is nearly impossible to appreciate the inventive use of the language by Jewish exegetes as a tool to preserve the fluidity and fruitfulness of the biblical text.

    Genesis 3:21 proved to be a deadend for the rationalists but a font of inspiration for the mystics. The change of a single Hebrew letter rendered the inert fecund. Before Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden for having eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God provided them with clothing: "And the Lord God made garments of skin ('or with an 'ayin) for Adam and his wife and clothed them" (3:21).

    The Zohar contextualised this reference to garments with a discussion of the special vestments worn by Aaron when officiating in the wilderness sanctuary, the Tabernacle.

    "And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths (beged) of service (sarat), to do service in the holy, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses" (Exodus 39:1).

    Because of the holiness of the place, Aaron's garments were akin to those used in the supernal world, made of remnants of pure light. The Zohar interpreted the rare and opaque noun serad to come from the verb sarad meaning 'to survive or be left over', that is, remnants. Given that the Tabernacle was an island of heaven on earth, the priestly garment consisted of remnants from above. The sanctity of the site determined the ethereal nature of the garb.

    Similarly holy, according to the Zohar, was the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were originally garbed, like Aaron in the Tabernacle (and Moses on the Mountain, and Christ and, according to tradition, some saints), in light. In Hebrew the words for light and skin are homonyms, both pronounced the same. That linguistic clue enables the exegesis that by sinning, Adam and Eve lost their garment of celestial light, the skin now a covering, but not illuminated. The change was not exterior but interior. Outside Eden, there was neither comfort nor security nor wisdom (Zohar, II, 229a-b). The light that had made everything comprehendible to them had dimmed.

    The rabbi, kabbalist and mystic Isaiah Horowitz (1555-1630), made the Zohar's explosive distinction between garments of light and garments of skin the linchpin of his worldview. Our garments are our cognitive limitations. Bereft of the light of Eden, we no longer see the interconnectedness of heaven and earth or spirit and matter. Even the perfection of the Torah eludes us. In Eden, for example, we would have instantaneously recognised the Law, and never needed to extract it through painstaking study and interpretation or to preserve it in written form. The expulsion made everything so much more obscure and impenetrable. Of all human beings since, only Moses attained the spiritual and intellectual powers that were once destined to be our common endowment. (Shenei Luhot Ha-brit, Israel 1997, Pesahim 348-355).
     
  3. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Wow. That's quite a thorough exposition, and glad you're back online @Thomas.

    My own take on 'coats of skin' is the descent of Spirit into nature, with the knowledge of good and evil as a consequence of man's place in both nature and Spirit, symbolised by Christ on the cross, suspended between Spirit and nature on the hotizontal axis, etc.

    Perhaps each person can draw their own 'enlightenment' from the scriptures, in the sense of 'lectio divina' quiet contemplation of what that particular part of scripture says to me at this time?

    I may contemplate the same passage at another time, and realize a new, or greater or expanded meaning -- for myself?

    It is universal?
     
  4. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Understood you may not agree with that. I mean that the Bible -- all sacred scripture -- speaks to everyone. It opens a channel to the Divine?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I would suggest Hebrew commentary as a first point of reference, and I'm no expert in that field. Hopefully @RabbiO or another might chip in.

    I can agree, the descent of spirit into matter for me is Genesis 2:7, when the earth is shaped and animated, and becomes a living soul.

    As you say, the Bible speaks to all in their own way – I simply refuse to write off the physical/material world – God saw it was good, and that's good enough for me!
     
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  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    This little light of mine...
     
  7. Geo

    Geo Member

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    Banished from Paradise, and then,
    in Time?
     
  8. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Pretty much, yes. The difference with the Matrix is that nature is an integral part of God's plan for mans' soul -- whatever God's reason that we can never understand -- Spirit 'weaves' nature -- the dimension of nature is not a separate artificial reality created by the adversary (satan) imo.

    Nature is like one room in a greater house of Spirit. God (Spirit) -- the house -- contains and permeates the room/dimension of nature, with its walls of time and space. There are perhaps infinite other rooms/dimensions within the house of Spirit. My Father's house has many mansions.

    The greater wheel of Spirit turns the lesser wheel of nature. The walls of the house of Spirit are walls of Love -- in the highest spiritual sense that all is one, imo. And beyond that -- beyond the house of Spirit -- is far beyond what man can ever try to know. Imo

    Just my own thoughts ... often repeated here on IO
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021 at 4:34 PM
  9. Geo

    Geo Member

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    There is probably some truth to that RJM.

    However, it ignores Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28,
    Daniel 12:3, Mathew 22:24,
    Revelation 12:4 especially.
    Revelation 22:9?

    Needs maybe some, Evanescence..?
    From the album appropriately named, "Fallen".

     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021 at 11:41 PM
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    My take is that we were, from the get-go, both spirit and nature ... what happened as a result of the Fall is an inversion of that relationship.

    Prior to the Fall, we are spiritual beings actually here by virtue of a physical body, our means of action and expression in the world. The flesh was subject to the spirit, and as such I could propose that 'physicality' was real, was 'concrete', but perhaps not quite the same as were are now ... our spiritual light actually shone through our physical bushel, as it were ... we thought spiritually, we saw spiritually, we acted spiritually, and we were conscious of our spirituality which gave us a sense above space and time ... so death was neither a threat nor an end ...

    The Fall inverted this relationship, so now the physical possesses, inadequately and only and perhaps not even semi-consciously, the spirit. We no longer see the heart of things. We hid from God in our shame, and by the same token God removed Himself from us to spare our blushes ...

    But ... as ever ... that condition can change in an instant ... our end, our eventual rest in God, is still the same as it ever was, it's just the journey is different and, by our own fault, more arduous.
     
  11. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    I don't think of them as interdependent. I think of it as Spirit 'underwrites' nature; the wheel of Spirit turns the wheel of nature, and perhaps infinite other 'wheels' too. Is there a greater wheel, that turns the wheel of Spirit? Does Spirit experience its own being via nature, and via infinite other dimensions? God created Adam in order to experience His own being? Why is it all necessary? That is not answerable ...
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021 at 11:59 AM
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Nor do I.

    For sure.

    Depends where and how we define 'spirit', God is spirit, as per 1 John, but that does not mean all spirit is God.

    The question is, does it need to?

    I would say not. I don't see God as suffering any deficiency, or any necessity.

    Because it's not? It's a free gift, of no benefit to God whatsoever.
     
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  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Profound
     

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