Barry Newman's Blog

June 12, 2011

Science and Genesis 3: 1 – 24 (part XXII)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 12:43 am

The garments that Yahweh Elohim provides

In verse 21 we have a reference to Yahweh Elohim making garments for the man and his wife.  The garments are garments of skin and hence we assume that some animal or animals have died by one means or another.  It is not uncommon to conclude that God actually “sacrificed” the life of one or more animals for the sake of the man and the woman.  While it seems obvious that the use of the skin of one or more animals implies that one or more animals had died, the text is silent about this being a matter of some significance or that God himself brought about that death.  In fact the death of animals may have already been part of the man and the woman’s existence in the garden.  Given that in the garden apparently nothing equivalent to the tree of life was provided to prevent the death of an animal the author/editor may have thought it appropriate for the hearer/reader to assume that the death of animals would be a natural occurrence.  Again the text is silent on such a possibility just as it is silent on seeing anything of considerable significance in the fact that animal skins were available.

What is of significance is that Yahweh Elohim provides them.  He is aware of their shame, their consequent need for covering and the inadequacy of what they had created for themselves.  It is out of his kindness that these animal skins are provided.  They are long lasting and not susceptible to tearing in contrast to the leaves of a fig tree sewn together.  What is difficult to deny in this part of the account is the portrayal of the grace of God for sinful humanity.

“In some contexts, clothing someone is an act of investiture.  Kings and priests were clothed in installation ceremonies. Joseph was clothed by his father in a special coat and was clothed by Pharaoh on his appointment to high office.” (Walton, pp. 229, 230)  With the man and the woman however, there is shame that needs to be dealt with, not honour to be conferred. There is some similarity between what happened to the man and the woman in the Genesis account to what happened to Adapa in the Tale of Adapa. Adapa, failing to eat of the bread of water of life, was in need of being clothed and that clothing was supplied by the god Anu (Walton, p. 230).  A tale that is something like an inversion of the Genesis account is that of Jason and the golden fleece. In that story, Jason travels to the far ends of the earth and finds a dragon that is guarding a golden fleece that is hanging on a tree. Media, a sorceress, comes to his aid.  She drugs the dragon and the golden fleece is theirs.  He is a hero.  In the Genesis account both the man and the woman are abject failures.  They have no honour, only shame.  But God deals with their shame.

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2 Comments »

  1. God’s provision of a covering is such a wonderful picture of his redemptive grace exemplified in Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice. As you rightly comment, Barry, the Lord provides a way of rescue and salvation when we fully deserve only his judgment. In wrath he remembers mercy. Whilst the text is silent upon the nature of the provision of the animal skin there is plenty to infer that this was the first recorded death after the Fall for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. Of course Lord could have created the skin without an animal having previously lived – like the bread that was never baked or the fish that never swam but it would not follow the pattern of propitiation. How apt it would be for this to be the first death as an act of redemptive sacrifice? Where sin did abound grace does super-abound. Our meagre endeavours are fig-leaves at best and even our best fig-leaves are described as filthy rags, or more accurately, menstrual cloths. Salvation is of the Lord. Praise the Lord for his is good and his love endures for ever.

    Comment by Richard Smith — June 13, 2011 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Richard for your comment. We cannot but appreciate and be extraordinarily thankful for the grace of God.

      Barry

      Comment by barrynewman — June 14, 2011 @ 12:59 am | Reply


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