In our examination of nakedness as a metaphor in Scripture, we need to look into the instances where nakedness is mentioned in the Scriptures in an effort to figure out what is going on before we can draw any sort of conclusions about metaphors. As I mentioned last time, the first mention of nakedness of any kind came in Genesis 2:25 which tells us that Adam and Even were both naked in the Garden, and that they were unashamed. I also mentioned last time that the Hebrew word that was used in that verse is arowm and also that there are a total of three Hebrew words that are rendered “naked” in the Old Testament. Since we will need to explore each of these words to be clear on their meaning and usage, it seemed sensible to me to begin with arowm.
arowm (H6174) means naked as a state of being, and as such is morally neutral, meaning that it doesn’t reflect on whether or not this state of being is a good thing or a bad thing; it just is. An example might be if a person said that they were naked in the shower this morning; their having been naked in the shower is just a fact and neither good nor bad.
The word appears 16 times in 15 verses in the Hebrew Old Testament, and those verses are:
Gen. 2:25; 1 Sam. 19:24; Job 1:21, 22:6, 24:7, 10, 26:6; Ecc. 5:15; Is. 20:2, 3, 4, 58:7; Hos. 2:3; Amos 2:16; Mic. 1:8.
It is interesting to note that in these verses, not only is “naked” mentioned simply as a state of being, Genesis 2:25 is a state of being in perfect fellowship with God, 1 Samuel is in a prophetic state, Job 1:21 is in a worshipful state of humility before God, and Isaiah 20 recounts the prophet being naked at God’s command as a sign for three years. While it is way too early to draw any kind of conclusions, it would appear that a state of nakedness was not terribly unusual for prophets, and that it was not offensive to God.
eyrom (H5903) means nakedness or naked, and is used to indicated nakedness with a sense of danger or threat of harm. It is found 10 times in 10 verses in the Hebrew Old Testament:
Gen. 3:7. 10. 11; Deut. 28:48; Eze. 16:7, 22, 39, 18:7, 16, 23:29.
Aside from the sense of danger or of a threat, this too is a simple state of being; morally neutral. An interesting example of this word is found in the Genesis 3 examples which you will recall are the post-Fall examples of Adam and Eve. After they had rebelled against God, their “eyes were opened” and they realized they were naked, so they covered themselves with leaves sewn together and hid from God. What were they afraid of why were they ashamed? Were they afraid of their bodies or were they afraid of what God would do? Were they ashamed of their nakedness, or were they ashamed of what they had done?
I suppose we could argue about that all day long, and scholars have debated it for centuries, but for our purposes in this study, the bottom line is to see that the word was used in a context of perceived danger.
We have one more Hebrew word to look at, a word that appears 54 times in the Old Testament; we will have our work cut out for us next time!