In Calvinism, we encounter the doctrine of Total Depravity. In Arminianism, the lighter doctrine of Total Deprivation is taught. Both of these are attempts to deal with the effects of the Rebellion of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The Hebrew text, however, suggests something not considered in either of these teachings.
The popular teaching is that the Rebellion caused HaShem to have to kill animals in order to clothe Adam and Eve — marking the first time anything had ever died. Is this really what the text tells us? Let’s flesh this out. 😉
Our present fleshly bodies are natural, weak, corruptible, and dishonorable; but we will one day trade them in for bodies which are spiritual, powerful, incorruptible, and glorified (1 Cor. 15:42-44).
“So also with the Resurrection of the dead. They are sown in corruption, they arise without corruption; they are sown in dishonor, they arise in glory; they are sown in weakness, they arise in power; it is sown a soulish body; it arises a spiritual body. For there is a body of the soulish life, and there is a body of the spirit life.”
The Resurrection body is not limiting, but rather our present bodies are. From these new bodies will emanate the Light of HaShem’s glory (Ezekiel 1:26-28; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2 Thess 2:14-15), just as Yeshua did at the Transfiguration (op. cit.) and Moshe on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29-35). Just as Yeshua appeared bathed in light to Sha’ul in His resurrected body (Acts 9:3-4; 26:12-15), we can surmise that Adam and Eve had a similar appearance before their Rebellion.
When humankind is first created, on day 6 of Creation, the specimens thereof (both male and female) were intended to have everlasting life in the form in which they first emerged. Would it be too far of a stretch to suggest their bodies were not clothed in the temporary flesh bodies we have now, which are given to decay and eventual death (2 Cor. 5:1-3; 2 Peter 1:13-14), but were probably clad in the incorruptible bodies which we will gain at the Bodily Resurrection?
We know from Yeshua’s post-Resurrection appearances that the incorruptible body has a physical form similar to our own. It can be seen from the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2-3; Luke 9:28-32) that the Resurrected have a physical form, discernible to the unresurrected, and can even converse with the unresurrected. We will no longer have the burdens of any disabilities we may suffer now (Isaiah 35:3-5).
Midrash Rabba (an ancient commentary on the above text) speaks of Adam’s original body thus:
“In R. Meir’s Torah it was found written, ‘Garments of light (אוֹר)’: this refers to Adam’s garments, which were like a torch [shedding radiance], broad at the bottom and narrow at the top. Isaac the Elder said: They were as smooth as a finger-nail and as beautiful as a jewel.”
Genesis 3:21 seems to communicate that Adam and Eve, as HaShem had warned, were stripped of their incorruptible bodies as a consequence of their Rebellion, and those bodies which emanated the Light of His glory were replaced with the flesh bodies (bodies of skin) we now bear.
וַיַּעַשׂ֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים לְאָדָ֧ם וּלְאִשְׁתֹּ֛ו כָּתְנֹ֥ות עֹ֖ור וַיַּלְבִּשֵֽׁם׃
The Hebrew word for light, which characterized the uncorruptible body, is אוֹר (pronounced ‘owr). The word for skin, used in 3:21, is not the one generally used of animal skins, i.e. נֹאד (pronounced nod), but is a homonym to the word for light, i.e. עוֹר (pronounced ‘owr). It seems that what the Hebrew text is actually communicating is that this is when Adam and Eve were given human skin.
In antiquity, there was a slightly different sound to the initial letters of these two words אוֹר (light) and עוֹר (skin), but in modern Hebrew (and even liturgical Hebrew), the distinction has been lost and both initial letters are silent. This is the kind of paranomasia we expect to find in Moshe’s work, as he was a master of this type of word play.