Some further notes, on verse 7.
- “eyes of the two of them were opened” Interesting that this verb (pqH) is distinguished from the normal verb “to open” (ptH). HALOT lists as the first meaning, “to open the eyes to something which exceeds normal human powers of observation,” though our occurrence is not listed there. As Sarna says (JPS Torah Commentary), it is ironic that “the new insight they gain is only the consciousness of their own nakedness, and shame is the consequence.”
- Nakedness seems to be a mark of their awareness, it’s something they notice, but not necessarily significant of itself. Nakedness elsewhere in the Bible rarely carries any kind of overtones of sin/morality; rather, it’s typically invoked for actual nakedness or euphemism for genitalia, in social justice issues (Isa 58:7) or as symbolic of secrets or exposure (Genesis 42:9, 12). The Book of Mormon, while also invoking nakedness in social justice issues (Jac 2:19, Mos 4:14, 26, 18:28, Alm 1:30, 4:12, Mor 8:39, others) also finds nakedness in connection with guilt (2Ne 9:14, Mor 9:5).
- There’s also a bit of a wordplay between them being naked ‘arummim, and the serpent being clever, ‘arum. However, the words are derived from different roots, and while many point it the connection, none that I’ve seen have made anything significant of it.
- “Sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths”- Fig leaves according to several commentaries, are the largest and most suitable leaves available in Canaan. Logical choice, perhaps for making clothing, which raises its own problems.
- If we are later to be provided with details on who exactly creates/invents certain technologies (e.g. Genesis 4:20-22), what are we to make of this sewing episode? If no animals have died, whence the bone for needle, or tendon for string? Or is that kind of expectation inappropriate for the genre of the narrative?
We’ve always conceptualized of this scene as taking place quickly; they become aware of God’s presence, they hide, God ; not dissimilar from children playing where they oughtn’t, hear Mum come home, and hide in the cupboard. However, if we’re to take the text as some kind of semi-realistic narrative (again, genre?), they must have time to gather a few leaves and string them together somehow before God actually discovers them.
- Actually, in looking back, I discover I’ve been operating under what Peter Enns calls “the interpreted Bible.” That is, I’ve grown up with such a particular reading, that I don’t even notice when it doesn’t correspond to the text, even when looking right at it! What actually happens is that they are prompted to produce the loincloths by their nakedness, not God’s presence. Time is not an issue, as the order is as follows: 1) Awareness of nakedness 2) Redress of nakedness by making fig leaf loincloths. 3) At some indeterminate time afterwards, God appears in the garden. 4) They hide.
- “Loincloths”- There is a normal term for “loincloth” and this is not it. Our word is variously translated, from “loincloths” to belts to aprons to, famously, “breeches.” Etymology (an unreliable guide to meaning) suggests something tied on, which does not help much. If the problem of their nakedness is exposure of the genitals, it suggests the minimal amount of covering would be the front of the body from the waist down. WBC contrasts our word with the usual. “Perhaps again the skimpiness of their clothing is being emphasized. Though somewhat ineffective, these actions suggest urgency and desperation”
Those are my short notes on a few details. In particular, I realize that no matter how closely I think I’m looking at the text, I always carry some kind of hermeneutical baggage. It’s a useful exercise to make explicit those things, so they can be compared to the actual text.