Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fig Leaves?

One of the things most people should notice about the first chapters of Genesis is that the elements in the story are based upon the common natural environment that people in the middle East were familiar with. For instance the serpent is cunning (crafty), you may recall the New Testament remark of Jesus to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt 10:16). However in a paradise with no predators how would an animal be known as cunning. Was it better at doing crossword puzzles or sneaking up on carrots? So clearly the story is based upon the appearance of the world as it was at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis.
(Gen 3:7 NIV) 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.
If you were in a garden paradise and you wanted to sew together a covering it is very unlikely that you would choose fig leaves (the actual solid part of the leaves are not too big, so not too good if modesty is the goal). Again the story is based upon the environment at the time of the writing of Genesis. Banana leaves, Elephant Ears, or Rhubarb would be much better and easier to create clothing then fig leaves. Palm leaves are big too but likely not very uncomfortable. These little details are not too important for the story unless it is insisted that that story is literal then the become stumbling blocks. [Fig, Banana, Elephant Ear, Rhubarb



Deb said...

But why cover at all?? Where did this shame come from?? Couldn’t Adam just say, “Darling you still look beautiful to me!” No, instead he got mad. So it has been ever since, a woman is yanked around like a yo-yo. Get lost – I can’t stand to see you --- then get naked so I can see you! Make up your mind already!!

Ron Corson said...

The symbolism is shame at their sinful condition having now realized that there is indeed such a thing as evil displayed in their distrust of God. The idea of shame at nakedness is very likely a cultural idea from the time of the writing of the story sometime after the formation of the nation of Israel.

As the Expositor's Bible Commentary says:
"So important was this matter to the author of the Torah that he included among the rules for the priest that they should wear "linen undergarments" as a covering for their "naked flesh" when they go near the presence of God at the altar (Exod 28:42-43). The sons of Noah are here shown to belong to two groups of mankind, those who like Adam and Eve hide the shame of their nakedness, and those who like Ham, or rather the Canaanites, have no sense of their shame before God. To the one group, the line of Shem, there will be blessing (v. 26); but to the other, the Canaanites (not the Hamites), there can only be curse (v. 25)."