Genesis 3:21
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
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(21) Coats of skins.—Animals, therefore, were killed even in Paradise; nor is it certain that man’s diet was until the flood entirely vegetarian (see Note on Genesis 1:29). Until sin entered the world no sacrifices could have been offered; and if, therefore, these were the skins of animals offered in sacrifice, as many suppose, Adam must in some way, immediately after the fall, have been taught that without shedding of blood is no remission of sin, but that God will accept a vicarious sacrifice. This is perhaps the most tenable view; and if, with Knobel, we see in this arrival at the idea of sacrifice a rapid development in Adam of thought and intellect, yet it may not have been entirely spontaneous, but the effect of divinely-inspired convictions rising up within his soul. It shows also that the innocence of our first parents was gone. In his happy state Adam had studied the animals, and tamed them and made them his friends; now a sense of guilt urges him to inflict upon them pain and suffering and death. But in the first sacrifice was laid the foundation of the whole Mosaical dispensation, as in Genesis 3:15 that of the Gospel. Moreover, from sacrificial worship there was alleviation for man’s bodily wants, and he went forth equipped with raiment suited for the harder lot that awaited him outside the garden; and, better far, there was peace for his soul, and the thought—even if still but faint and dim—of the possibility for him of an atonement.

Genesis 3:21. Unto Adam and his wife did God make — By his own word, or by the ministry of angels; coats of skins — Of beasts slain, either to show them what death is, or rather, as is more probable, in sacrifice to God, to prefigure the great sacrifice which, in the latter days, should be offered once for all. Thus the first animal that died was a sacrifice, or Christ in a figure. God clothed them: 1st, to defend them from the heat and cold, and other injuries of the air to which they were now to be exposed: 2d, to remind them of their fall, which had made that nakedness, which was before innocent and honourable, an occasion of sin and shame, and therefore it needed a covering. God also, by this act of kindness, probably intended to show his care even of fallen man, to encourage his hopes of mercy through a Mediator, and thereby to invite him to repentance.

3:20,21 God named the man, and called him Adam, which signifies red earth; Adam named the woman, and called her Eve, that is, life. Adam bears the name of the dying body, Eve of the living soul. Adam probably had regard to the blessing of a Redeemer, the promised Seed, in calling his wife Eve, or life; for He should be the life of all believers, and in Him all the families of the earth should be blessed. See also God's care for our first parents, notwithstanding their sin. Clothes came in with sin. Little reason have we to be proud of our clothes, which are but the badges of our shame. When God made clothes for our first parents, he made them warm and strong, but coarse and very plain; not robes of scarlet, but coats of skin. Let those that are meanly clad, learn from hence not to complain. Having food and a covering, let them be content; they are as well off as Adam and Eve. And let those that are finely clad, learn not to make the putting on of apparel their adorning. The beasts, from whose skins they were clothed, it is supposed were slain, not for man's food, but for sacrifice, to typify Christ, the great Sacrifice. Adam and Eve made for themselves aprons of fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in, Isa 28:20. Such are all the rags of our own righteousness. But God made them coats of skin, large, strong, durable, and fit for them: such is the righteousness of Christ; therefore put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.As Genesis 3:20 records an instance of humble, apprehending faith in the divine word, so here we have a manifest act of mercy on the part of God, indicating the pardon and acceptance of confessing, believing man, rejoicing in anticipation of that future victory over the serpent which was to be accomplished by the seed of the woman. This act is also suitable to the present circumstances of man, and at the same time strikingly significant of the higher blessings connected with restoration to the divine favor. He had discovered his nakedness, and God provides him with a suitable covering. He was to be exposed to the variations of climate, and here was a durable protection against the weather. But far more than this. He had become morally naked, destitute of that peace of conscience which is an impenetrable shield against the shame of being blamed and the fear of being punished; and the coats of skin were a faithful emblem and a manifest guarantee of those robes of righteousness which were hereafter to be provided for the penitent in default of that original righteousness which he had lost by transgression. And, finally, there is something remarkable in the material out of which the coats were made. They were most likely obtained by the death of animals; and as they do not appear yet to have been slain for food, some have been led to conjecture that they were offered in sacrifice - slain in prefiguration of that subsequent availing sacrifice which was to take away sin. It is the safer course, however, to leave the origin of sacrifice an open question. Scripture does not intimate that the skins were obtained in consequence of sacrifice; and apart from the presumption derived from these skins, it seems to trace the origin of sacrifice to the act of Habel recorded in the next chapter.

This leads us to a law, which we find frequently exhibited in Sacred Scripture, that some events are recorded without any connection or significance apparent on the surface of the narrative, while at the same time they betoken a greater amount of spiritual knowledge than we are accustomed to ascribe to the age in which they occurred. The bare fact which the writer states, being looked at with our eyes, may have no significance. But regarded, as it ought to be, with the eyes of the narrator, cognizant of all that he has to record up to his own time, it becomes pregnant with a new meaning, which would not otherwise have been discovered. Even this, however, may not exhaust the import of a passage contained in an inspired writing. To arrive at the full sense it may need to be contemplated with the eyes of the Holy Spirit, conscious of all that is to become matter of revelation to the end of time. It will then stand forth in all the comprehensiveness of meaning which its relation to the whole body of revealed truth imparts, and under the guise of an everyday matter-of-fact will convey some of the sublimest aspects of divine truth. Hence, the subsequent scripture, which is the language of the Holy Spirit, may aid us in penetrating the hidden meaning of an earlier part of revelation.

God is the Prime Mover in this matter. The mercy of God alone is the source of pardon, of the mode in which he may pardon and yet be just, and of the power by which the sinner may be led to accept it with penitence and gratitude. In the brevity of the narrative the results only are noted; namely, the intimation and the earnest of pardon on the side of God, and the feelings and doings of faith and repentance on the side of the parents of mankind. What indications God may have given by the impressive figure of sacrifice or otherwise of the penalty being paid by another for the sinner, as a necessary condition of forgiveness, we are not here informed, simply because those for whom a written record was necessary would learn it more fully at a subsequent stage of the narrative. This suggests two remarks important for interpretation: First. This document is written by one who omits many things done and said to primeval man, because they are unnecessary for those for whom he writes, or because the principles they involve will come forward in a more distinct form in a future part of his work.

This practice speaks for Moses being not the mere collector, but the composer of the documents contained in Genesis, out of such preexistent materials as may have come to his hand or his mind. Second. We are not to import into the narrative a doctrine or institution in all the development it may have received at the latest period of revelation. This would be contrary to the manner in which God was accustomed to teach man. That concrete form of a great principle, which comported with the infantile state of the early mind, is first presented. The germ planted in the opening, fertile mind, springs forth and grows. The revelations and institutions of God grow with it in compass and grandeur. The germ was truth suited for babes; the full-grown tree is only the same truth expanded in the advancing development of people and things. They equally err who stretch the past to the measure of the present, and who judge either the past or the future by the standard of the present. Well-meaning but inconsiderate critics have gone to both extremes.

21. God made coats of skins—taught them to make these for themselves. This implies the institution of animal sacrifice, which was undoubtedly of divine appointment, and instruction in the only acceptable mode of worship for sinful creatures, through faith in a Redeemer (Heb 9:22). The Lord God, either by his own word, or by the ministry of angels,

made coats of skins, of beasts slain either for sacrifice to God, or for the use of man, their lord and owner;

and clothed them, partly to defend them from excessive heats and colds, or other injuries of the air, to which they were now exposed; partly to mind them of their sin, which made their nakedness, which before was innocent and honourable, now to be an occasion of sin and shame, and therefore to need covering; and partly to show his care even of fallen man, and to encourage his hopes of God’s mercy through the blessed Seed, and thereby to invite him to repentance.

Unto Adam also, and to his wife,.... Besides the kind intimation of grace and favour to them, another token of God's good will towards them was shown, in that whereas they were naked and ashamed:

did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them; not that before this they were only bone and flesh, and now God brought a skin over them, and covered them with it, or ordered a beast, which was very like a man, to have its skin stripped off, and put on him, as some in Aben Ezra foolishly imagined; but these were made of the skins of beasts, not of the skin of the serpent, as the Targum of Jonathan; but of creatures slain, not merely for this purpose, nor for food, but for sacrifice, as a type of the woman's seed, whose heel was to be bruised, or who was to suffer death for the sins of men; and therefore to keep up and direct the faith of our first parents to the slain Lamb of God from the foundation of the world, and of all believers in all ages, until the Messiah should come and die, and become a sacrifice for sin, the sacrifices of slain beasts were appointed: and of the skins of these the Lord God, either by his almighty power, made coats for the man and his wife, or by the ministry of angels; or he instructed and directed them to make them, which was an instance of goodness to them; not only to provide food for them as before, but also raiment; and which though not rich, fine, and soft, yet was substantial, and sufficient to protect them from all inclemencies of the weather; and they might serve as to put them in mind of their fall, so of their mortality by it, and of the condition sin had brought them into; being in themselves, and according to their deserts, like the beasts that perish: as also they were emblems of the robe of Christ's righteousness, and the garments of his salvation, to be wrought out by his obedience, sufferings, and death; with which being arrayed, they should not be found naked, nor be condemned, but be secured from wrath to come. The Heathens had a notion, that the first men made themselves coats of the skins of beasts: the Grecians ascribe this to Pelasgus, whom they suppose to be the first man (m) among them, and Sanchoniatho (n) to Usous, who lived in the fifth generation.

(m) Pausanias in Arcadicis, sive, l. 8. p. 455, 456. (n) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 35.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God {u} make coats of skins, and clothed them.

(u) Or, gave them knowledge to make themselves coats.

21. coats of skins] in reference to Genesis 3:7. The sense of shame is the result of the knowledge of evil.

The present verse gives the traditional explanation of the origin of clothes. The word “coats” hardly represents the Hebrew so well as LXX χιτῶνας, and Lat. “tunicas,” cf. 2 Kings 1:8, Hebrews 11:37. The Heb. k’thôneth (= χιτῶν) was a kind of shirt without sleeves, reaching down to the knees.

The first mention of death among animals is implied in this provision for man’s clothing. Does it contain an allusion to the otherwise unrecorded institution of sacrifice?

The Divine sentence of punishment is thus followed at once by a Divine act of pity, as if to certify that chastisement is inflicted not in anger, but in affection.

Verse 21. - Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats (cathnoth, from cathan, to cover; cf. χιτών; Sanscrit, katam; English, cotton) of skin (or, the skin of a man, from ur, to be naked, hence a hide). Neither their bodies (Origen), nor garments of the bark of trees (Gregory Nazianzen), nor miraculously-fashioned apparel (Grotius), nor clothing made from the serpent's skin (R. Jonathan), but tunics prepared from the skins of animals, slaughtered possibly for food, as it is not certain that the Edenie man was a vegetarian (Genesis 1:29), though more probably slain in sacrifice. Though said to have been made by God, "it is not proper so to understand the words, as if God had been a furrier, or a servant to sew clothes" (Calvin). God being said to make or do what he gives orders or instructions to be made or done. Willet and Macdonald, however, prefer to think that the garments were actually fashioned by God. Bush finds in the mention of Adam and his wife an intimation that they were furnished with different kinds of apparel, and suggests that on this fact is based the prohibition in Deuteronomy 22:5 against the interchange of raiment between the sexes. And clothed them.

1. To show them how their mortal bodies might be defended from cold and other injuries.

2. To cover their nakedness for comeliness' sake; vestimenta honoris (Chaldee Paraphrase).

3. To teach them the lawfulness of using the beasts of the field, as for food, so for clothing.

4. To give a rule that modest and decent, not costly or sumptuous, apparel should be used.

5. That they might know the difference between God's works and man's invention - between coats of leather and aprons of leaves; and,

6. To put them in mind of their mortality by their raiment of dead beasts' skins - talibus indici oportebat peccatorem ut essent mortalitatis indi-cium: Origen" (Wilier).

7. "That they might feel their degradation - quia vestes ex ca materia confectae, belluinum quiddam magis saperent, quam lineae vel laneae - and be reminded of their sin" (Calvin). "As the prisoner, looking on his irons, thinketh on his theft, so we, looking on our garments, should think on our sins" (Trapp).

8. A foreshadowing of the robe of Christ's righteousness (Delitzsch, Macdonald, Murphy, Wordsworth, Candlish; cf. Psalm 132:9, 16; Isaiah 61:10; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Bonar recognizes in Jehovah Elohim at the gate of Eden, clothing the first transgressors, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, as the High Priest of our salvation, had a right to the skins of the burnt offerings (Leviticus 7:8), and who, to prefigure his own work, appropriated them for covering the pardoned pair. Genesis 3:21As justice and mercy were combined in the divine sentence; justice in the fact that God cursed the tempter alone, and only punished the tempted with labour and mortality, mercy in the promise of eventual triumph over the serpent: so God also displayed His mercy to the fallen, before carrying the sentence into effect. It was through the power of divine grace that Adam believed the promise with regard to the woman's seed, and manifested his faith in the name which he gave to his wife. חוּה Eve, an old form of חיּה, signifying life (ζωή, lxx), or life-spring, is a substantive, and not a feminine adjective meaning "the living one," nor an abbreviated form of מחוּה, from חוּה equals חיּה (Genesis 19:32, Genesis 19:34), the life-receiving one. This name was given by Adam to his wife, "because," as the writer explains with the historical fulfilment before his mind, "she became the mother of all living," i.e., because the continuance and life of his race were guaranteed to the man through the woman. God also displayed His mercy by clothing the two with coats of skin, i.e., the skins of beasts. The words, "God made coats," are not to be interpreted with such bare literality, as that God sewed the coats with His own fingers; they merely affirm "that man's first clothing was the work of God, who gave the necessary directions and ability" (Delitzsch). By this clothing, God imparted to the feeling of shame the visible sign of an awakened conscience, and to the consequent necessity for a covering to the bodily nakedness, the higher work of a suitable discipline for the sinner. By selecting the skins of beasts for the clothing of the first men, and therefore causing the death or slaughter of beasts for that purpose, He showed them how they might use the sovereignty they possessed over the animals for their own good, and even sacrifice animal life for the preservation of human; so that this act of God laid the foundation for the sacrifices, even if the first clothing did not prefigure our ultimate "clothing upon" (2 Corinthians 5:4), nor the coats of skins the robe of righteousness.
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