Studies in Genesis 3
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Genesis 3:7 ESV
Adam and Eve were naked, without clothing, because they did not need clothes. There was no spiritual, physical or social reason to cover themselves. Nor, was there a prohibition toward covering themselves. Yet, after they purposefully rebelled against God they “knew that they were naked” and decided to cover themselves.
God uses two different, closely related words for the translated word “naked.” In Genesis 3:7 (and in Genesis 3:10-11) the word means nudity. It is closely related to, but still different from, the word used in Genesis 2:25. “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 ESV). “Naked” means bare, unclothed. Both words, in Genesis 2:25 and 3:7, are related to a word which means to be crafty, subtle, shrewd or prudent.
There is a difference in their awareness. In Genesis 2, in their original, obedient before God state, they were unaware of any reason to have covering. After their rebellion, they almost immediately saw a need to cover themselves, because they saw they were naked. What was the perceived need and why did they think they needed to cover themselves?
Perhaps we can find and answer in the word “knew.” First, they now knew about good and evil, but not under the direction of God. To “know” means to perceive, recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess, to understand through experience, to find out or reveal. To “know” may be either purely intellectual or intimate. Intimate knowledge involves the whole person, mind, emotions, including the moral understanding, will and spiritual being. Gaining such knowledge is progressive, growing from a small or minute comprehension to a more mature or complete understanding with time and experience. As soon as they rebelled they comprehended that they had done something against the direct, stated will of God. They now knew their action was evil and had no control, or dominion, over the consequences.
How long it took before the instinct to cover themselves arose is not stated. It could have been immediate or soon thereafter. Scripture suggests immediate comprehension. If so, their minds, hearts and beings were not disciplined to handle the terrifying consequence of knowing evil, especially in themselves. They were not designed for evil and the realization they had done something evil began rending them away from that with which they were familiar, their relationships with God, each other and the world in which they lived.