Naked in the Garden

"I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." Gen. 3:10

Traditionally we have explained Adam's and Eve's shame at their nakedness as the "knowledge of good and evil" that came with eating of the forbidden fruit. It is assumed from verse 7 that they had not even known they were naked before, but that the knowledge of evil opened their minds to this fact.

Verse 7 seems to support this belief, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked." But does the text mean that some sort of change came over their eyes, or does it mean that they realized that things could never again be as they had been? There is a difference between knowing what sin is and actually experiencing it.

They then attempted to conceal themselves not from each other but from God! They were alone in the world, and husband and wife. They had seen each other naked before; why then the sudden modesty? A clue from--of all places--the Chinese written language, suggests another explanation.

Chinese, spoken by a quarter of the earth's people, is the only picture language still in use by any other race except the Japanese who use many of the same characters but pronounce them differently.

It has been conjectured that when God confused men's languages at the Tower of Babel, that the Chinese set out to the east, stopping only when they reached the Pacific Ocean. There they lived separated from the rest of the world for 2000 years. The written language they developed is the oldest on earth.

There are two words describing this language. Pictographs are simple pictures of concrete objects: man, woman, house, etc. Ideographs--literally "Idea writing"--represent abstract or non-concrete words. But how make these?

Most likely they would make characters that "tell stories." And they would pick stories and events familiar to everyone. For example, if we were doing it today, how might we picture "honesty"? Everyone knows the story of George Washington and his little hatchet with which he cut down his father's favorite cherry tree. When confronted, he said, "I cannot tell a lie; I did it with my little hatchet." Thus we might draw a tree with a hatchet at its base, and let that stand for "honesty."

Five thousand years from now the story of George Washington might be forgotten, just as some of the stories they knew have been forgotten by modern Chinese. But the characters remain, concealing within them a knowledge of events we now have recorded only in Genesis.

Their most ancient stories must have sprung from what they had learned before they left the Tower of Babel--the stories handed down from Noah of the creation of the world and of mankind. Thus it is possible that within the Chinese characters we can find hidden what amounts to an eye-witness account of events we now have in the first book of the Old Testament!

Can this be true? The character for "man" or "person" looks like a "Y" turned upside down. Originally it was a simple stick figure of a man. Eventually it was reduced to the simplest possible form, a trunk and two legs. This character is often a part of more complex characters. The character for "fire" contains this character, but with two strokes on either side of the "head." It looks like a man on fire! Any time you see a fire station in Japan you will see this character.

The question occurs, why would they use what appears to be a man or person on fire or glowing? God dwells in light. (I Tim 6:16; Dan 2:22) "Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment." (Ps 104.2) When Jesus was transfigured before his disciples, his clothing became shining, white as no fuller or bleach on earth can make them. (Mark 9.3)

Is it possible that when God made Adam and Eve in His own image, that they were clothed as He is in light? And could the consequence of their sin be that they lost the covering of light? They knew instantly that God would know that they had sinned, and so they futilely attempted to hide their sin with garments of leaves!

The Chinese characters seem to indicate that this is what happened, because there are many complex characters that contain one or two of these "glowing people." The character for "converse" for example, shows two glowing people (Adam and Eve?) with a mouth and lines indicating words coming from it. The character for "glory" shows two glowing people OVER or covering a tree, suggesting Adam and Eve's right to the tree of life BEFORE their sin. The character for "tomb" shows two glowing people over the character for dirt, a sorrowful reminder that for their sin they gained only death.

The character for "desire" shows a woman under two trees. The character for "warn" shows the character for God under the two trees, and God is speaking. The character for "beginning" shows a women beside a mouth with the root character for "secret" above it. The most ancient version of this shows the woman with the mouth and a fruit in the mouth. The beginning of sin!

The character for light is even more suggestive. It can be broken down into root elements which signify "first," "man" and "glowing" or radiating light.

There is a book entitled "The Discovery of Genesis in the Chinese Characters," by C.H. Kang and Ethel R. Nelson in which they relate the effort of 40 years research looking for relationships between these characters and the Bible. The results are astounding.

Chinese and Japanese do not usually see such meanings in their written characters any more than we think very much about why we write "A" or "B" or "C" the way we do. But when this is pointed out to them, they are frequently as surprised as we are.

If this analysis is right, when Eve sinned, she no longer had her garment of light. Adam seeing this, knew what had happened. He was not deceived, but deliberately chose to join her, as the scriptures say. (I Tim. 2:14) Knowing God would see their changed appearance, they sought to conceal it with leaves. Adam's lame excuse for hiding was, "I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

Bill Carrell