First Clothing in the Bible

In order to examine clothing and its role in the life of humans, it is important to start at the beginning.  By beginning, I mean the book of Genesis where we find God creating the landscapes and forming the first humans.  Even though God had provided all that the first humans had needed and much more, they still chose to sin and eat fruit from the forbidden tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  After Adam and Eve sinned, they became aware of the fact that they were naked.  As a result, they felt shame. This shame may also have stemmed from the realization that they had disobeyed God.

Adam and Eve did not stay naked but rather sought to somewhat alleviate the situation, so they sewed fig leaves to cover themselves.  It is important to note that it seems that they felt almost impelled to cover themselves, with something—anything.  Because they had eaten from the knowledge of good and evil, they became aware of inclinations that had previously been absent.  They now had the potential to do evil, and their nakedness might be a point for misuse. Perhaps they had in mind that God would appear at any moment.  So, when they did hear that God was walking near, they immediately hid.  God asks them where they were, and they reply that they hid due to their nakedness. But God questions them back,“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

Confronted by God, they were reprimanded and banished from the garden.  But before their departure, God upgraded their clothing: “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” (Gen 3:21). These skins would cover them much better than the measly fig leaves. (meaning of fig?). Though the first humans were banished from the garden, God did not leave them completely destitute.  He gave them a covering which would protect them from the elements of the earth and the natural consequences of the fall—unstable and unruly weather, etc.  Furthermore, clothing would give them a sense of dignity from being aware of their nakedness.  It would serve to tame the body and provide a sense of modesty and decorum.

Through the grace of God, clothing became a good thing. Clothing has not only served to cover and protect humans since the beginning of time; it has also become part of the human identity and has been used to distinguish various ranks and states in life.  Most notably, God has used clothes for his own purposes, and takes a prominent role in the selection and appropriation of the priestly garments. Clothes have, in a sense, become their own means of grace.  We will explore the relationship between God, humans and clothes and the in between in this blog.

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