The Creation Story ends with the male and the female being naked and not ashamed. This translation is only partially correct. It’s a total letdown.
The creation story is the narration of God creating the Universe and everything in it down to the male and female and the marriage union. A unique undertaking, even for God. This incredible project ends by discussing nakedness and shamefulness. Really?! Think, this is totally out of place. It’s like completing the story of the modernization of Saudi Arabia with “it shined in the sun and was not overheated.”
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 8.4)
Genesis 2 details the creation of the man and the woman. It goes to great lengths to explain the relationship of the woman to the man and particularly their oneness. The last two words of verse 24 are one flesh; this appears to be the culmination of the creation story. Then, we read:
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
What an anticlimax, even a disappointment. Imagine being present and witnessing what took place during the entire creation week. Seeing Earth take shape with its ultramarine oceans, lush land, colorful plants, populated with roaming animals and finally a couple of human beings. Would you have exclaimed in wonderment, “Wow, they’re both naked and not ashamed.” You might have thought as such, but this is far short of the entirety of the scene before you.
The key to unlocking the meaning of this concluding phrase resides in Biblical Hebrew. In English, with “naked and not ashamed,” we receive a true, but very very limited picture of the conclusion of the creation story. Let’s dig for the gold nuggets of understanding.
עָרוֹם`arowm (aw-rome’); or `arom (aw-rome’); from OT:6191 (in its original sense); nude, either partially or totally:
KJV – naked.
עָרַם`aram (aw-ram’); a primitive root; properly, to be (or make) bare; but used only in the derivative sense (through the idea perhaps of smoothness) to be cunning (usually in a bad sense):
KJV – very, beware, take crafty [counsel], be prudent, deal subtilly.
עׇרְמָה ʻormâh or-maw’; feminine of H6193 (עֹרֶם); trickery; or (in a good sense) discretion:
KJV – guile, prudence, subtilty, wilily, wisdom.
I’ve added H6195 to this context. You’ll notice that the three root letters of H6195 and H6174 are identical in Hebrew (the מ becomes a ם when it is the final letter of a word, it merely changes format, but it’s the same letter). H6195 translates to prudence (the translations in the King James Bible follow the KJV above). Note the synonym, wisdom; that is a more modern, easily understandable version of prudence. That is the reason for using the word wise in the translation in the image that accompanies this post.
Also notice Strong’s comment, referring to cunning, “usually in a bad sense.” We shall see this bad side of aram much more in Genesis 3:1. In Genesis 2:25, the focus is on the GOOD side of aram. Here’s how we can know this without a doubt. Yes, I add without a doubt, because what we are discovering is vital information for the understanding of the Creation story and what God accomplished. Here’s God’s climactic conclusion, all His effort (if I may call it that) was to reach this pinnacle.
A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent (H6191).
Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware (H6191): and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
Both the man and his wife, his woman, were in this positive state of prudence, simplicity, and bewareness. We’d call this, their mental state or frame of mind. Remember, Genesis 2:7 God breathed the breath of life into the man (only all humans on Earth possess this). The breath of life is a poor translation of neshama, the essence of God’s life, the human mind on our physical level. (God also possesses this, hence His ability to transmit it).
Nakedness is referring to the purity of the male and female mind. They were bared of any mud or dirt or anything that remotely reflected a speck of dirt. Their minds were pristine clean.
There are two points to retain from the man’s and the woman’s nakedness. Firstly, this has to do with their MINDS. Considering this is the culmination of the Creation story, this means that God’s ultimate interest in humans is the state of their minds. I cannot get into the details here, but New Testament theology confirms this: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
Secondly, nakedness refers to a PURE mind. Throughout the teaching of the New Testament, the emphasis is on this point, “I stir up your pure minds” (2 Peter 3:1), “every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). As an aside, purity of the mind was also an emphasis in the Old Testament (Psalm 24:3-5, 51:10). But, remember, they did not have the Holy Spirit and what God required of them was the purity of body and actions, NOT thoughts. Hence the 10 Commandments, which refer mainly to physical acts, “you shall not kill.” It does not say; you shall not hate. The New Testament says, “you shall not hate,” and therefore INCLUDES, “you shall not kill.” Enough said, you understand the concept. In Genesis 2:25, the man and the woman had NEW TESTAMENT PURE MINDS.
The result was they were NOT ASHAMED. Here’s the deeper meaning.
בּוּשׁ bûwsh boosh; a primitive root; properly, to pale, i.e. by implication to be ashamed; also (by implication) to be disappointed or delayed:
KJV – (be, make, bring to, cause, put to, with, a-) shamed(-d), be (put to) confounded(-fusion), become dry, delay, be long.
Shamed means confounded or confusion. Look at these verses.
They cried to you, and were delivered: they trusted in you, and were not confounded (954).
Let them be confounded (954) and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
In you, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion (954). 13 Let them be confounded (954) and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt. 24 My tongue also shall talk of your righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded (954), for they are brought to shame, that seek my hurt.
It is logical that if the man and woman had a WISE GODLY MIND, they were NOT CONFUSED.
Put yourself in the first man’s and the first woman’s shoes (oops, they didn’t have shoes! but you know what I mean). They were in a gorgeous, bountiful garden; they were in the presence of tame animals and the pleasure of each other’s company. They received instruction from their Creator. This teaching was the first they received; they could not compare it, contradict it, or debate it with anything or anyone. It was clear and concise. At this point, the conclusion of the Creation story, there is no confusion.
Both the wisdom and the absence of confusion are MENTAL ATTRIBUTES. Of course, all the other events and items, including the animals, were in a perfect state of order. The New Testament teaching confirms this absence of confusion “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be confounded” (1 Peter 2:6). Believers become mentally naked and not ashamed, wise, and not confused. That is the result of being a follower, a son or daughter of God.
From “tohu ve bohu” to “naked and not ashamed.”
The Creation story takes us from Gen 1:1-2 “without form and void” to Gen 2:25 “wise and not confused.” Do you see the juxtaposition of tohu and bohu leading to naked and not ashamed? Everything in between goes crescendo until they reach that climactic conclusion. The in-between are stepping-stones in God’s Plan to reach His ultimate goal.
In these first two chapters of Genesis, we have the ENTIRE Plan of God. This Plan is not just the PHYSICAL creation (summed up with “naked and not ashamed”); it is the SPIRITUAL Creation of Human Beings, ALL human beings, MALES and FEMALES. We are in this together, each having an equal opportunity to reach that state of wisdom and absence of confusion.
We could add much here, and I will return to this subject. For now, let me observe that this statement concluding Gen 2:25 is the climax of It was good declared after each of the first five days. Then, It was very good at the end of the sixth day. Then, the ultimate, they were wise and not confused. Do you see this steady increase in intensity? Again, I can’t detail it here, and I can’t corroborate what I’m about to say with a specific verse but, remember the seventh day. The meaning of that day of rest includes wisdom and no confusion. It takes the seventh day, the day of God, working with humans (read that post) to develop the spiritual purity that characterizes His people. Indeed, you cannot have wisdom and absence of confusion without the Sabbath day.
It starts as tohu and bohu. Throughout the Bible narrative, there are ups-and-downs, as I pointed out in the article Confusion > Order > Confusion. Then, in the Creation story, there’s the chapter about Christ and the founding of His Church, with His people, and that will end in the future with wisdom and no confusion. This story is it is Very Good, multiplied in power by let’s say 1,000,000 times; this is the meaning of ONE FLESH, the unity of Christ and the Church, the marriage of the Bride and Groom. That is the comprehension of good, very good, excellent tidings, another meaning of flesh H1319.
The Highest of High Points
The statement, “naked and not ashamed,” “wise and not confused” is one of those benchmark declarations that speckle the Bible narrative. You’ll find them at the beginning and the end of outstanding events or episodes in the Creation story. Here are a few to whet your appetite.
The establishment of the founding father of spiritual humanity: Abraham. “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him. (Gen 18:17-19)
You can find such benchmark statements for the beginning of Christ’s Ministry, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And the end, just before His Crucifixion, “I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gave me to do. And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was” (John 17:4-5).
And the clincher of all for humankind. The curtains-down conclusion of the entire narrative of humanity; this is the ultimate counterpart to tohu va bohu, just as wise and not confused is an intermediary benchmark. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). That’s wisdom, oneness and no confusion.
Each one of these statements is a piece in the ongoing assembly of the puzzle picture of the creation story. You guessed it, or hopefully, I could say, you’re beginning to understand that the creation story is NOT the creation of PHYSICAL humans but the creation of SPIRITUAL CHILDREN, the very SONS, and DAUGHTERS of GOD. The time when every single human being will have had the opportunity to become wise and not confused as to the Plan of God for themselves individually, and ourselves collectively as humankind, God’s creation, that’s the real spiritual creation story.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 8.4 of the book Origin of Humankind.
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