Genesis 3:21,Yes, There is Hope for Us Yet
“Yahweh God made coats of skins for Adam and for his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21, WEB)
We’ve now come full circle from the start a theme beginning in Genesis 2:25: “The man and his wife were both naked, but were not ashamed.”
Chronologically, this gifting occurred shortly after the worst judgment of mankind ever, after YHVH reminded Adam that “dust you are, and to dust shall you return” (vs. 19), thus sentencing us to a temporary life in a decaying body.
However, almost immediately after this judgment, we find hope! There are many positive implications of YHVH stooping so low as to make human beings coats of animal hides (As a quick side note, God Himself demonstrates here that animals are far lower of value to Him than Mankind, as He kills them for men’s clothing).
The first implication is that of God’s character. He brings about His word as we expected – He did warn Adam that he would “die by dying” if he disobeyed the commandment – and yet, He shows compassion in a way we do not expect. The is the first instance of a reoccurring pattern God wants us to remember, a pattern best summed up in the poem of Iyov (Job): “Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be Yahweh’s name.” (Job 1:21, WEB) Throughout the Scriptures this pattern reappears – that where YHVH is generous, He will also be just, and where YHVH seems harsh, He will also show compassion.
YHVH made those coats so man would learn to have hope. As Iyov also said, “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects. Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He wounds, and binds up. He injures, and His hands make whole.” (Job 5:17-18) Here He shows – right from the get-go – that even after He judges us, we can approach God with hope. He cares for the lives of us descendants of Adam and Eve. Male or female, it makes no difference – He made coats for both.
The next lesson is that the cost of YHVH’s favor is not free; it costs something. The coats He made for Adam and Chavah were made from skin; an animal had to die for each of them. This is an indication that death would be required in exchange for His coverings – and from that time, sacrifices and offerings were made in an ongoing exchange for YHVH’s favor, forgiveness of sins, and His fellowship. It was a conundrum for Adam and Chavah, they were happy to know God still cared for them, but they also heard the bleating of the animals while they were made into skins, all the while bearing responsibility for their deaths, as this never would have happened had not Adam allowed death to enter the world.
Continuing down this same vein of reasoning but digging even deeper, we take further solace in what YHVH made: two ketoneth. Ketoneth has a much deeper meaning than the “tunics” or “garments” we read in the NKJV, NIV, NASB, or ESV. This is the same ketoneth as in “the ketoneth of many colors” that Yaakov (Jacob) made for Yosef (Joseph), or that David made for his virgin daughters (cf. 2 Sam. 13:18). It was valued enough to be considered a treasured possession, as the sojourners donated kat’not for the building of the Temple and Jerusalem’s walls (cf. Ezr. 2:69; Neh. 7:70,72). We must understand that the ketoneth touched one’s skin and was made from the finest (most comfortable) threads – especially linen – which was therefore considered the most sought after and desirable of all types of garments.
Additionally, the entire ensemble of clothing merely complimented the ketoneth. Robes (aka outer garment), breastplates, sashes, belts, tallits, etc. – were in some way wrapped, tied, or laid on top of the ketoneth, but the ketoneth was always adorned first.
Therefore, as the most essential piece of clothing for comfort and aesthetics, it was the only priestly garment given the “kodesh” (“holy”) label (cf. Lev. 16:4).
Now, let’s compare what the Almighty made for Adam and Chavah – two kat’not (one ketoneth for each of them) – with what Adam and Chavah made from fig leaves – two chagorot. Now most English translations call Adam and Chavah’s inventions as “aprons” (cf. Gen. 3:7), but in reality this word is used for soldiers and in times of trouble, as it literally means “armor”. I’m not saying Adam and Chavah wanted to fight YHVH, but I am highlighting a deep sod mystery. The Torah is mysteriously saying is that in man’s natural, naked state, he naturally makes war with the Almighty – in rebellion and transgression. However, God’s natural state (if it be right to say “natural” with God) is to gift us with coats of many colors like those of Yosef or Aharon the High Priest. As beloved sons, virgin daughters, and high priests wore these precious garments, so are WE precious in His sight.
The deep mystery is that Mankind must stop trying to make chagor-armor for itself, and stop preparing for war with the Most High. We must surrender to Him, and let Him clothe us with a coat worthy of those who will serve Him as favored sons, daughters, and priests of God!