When I read the Old Testament in the original language (Hebrew) and more I deepen in Jewish Writings, such as the Talmud, Midrash Rabbah and other scriptures, the more I realized that God’s word is an inexhaustible source. Even though a translation approaches as close as possible the Hebrew text, still you miss a dimension. So is it in a translation difficult to show that the Hebrew text uses wordplay.
This is also the case in Genesis 3:21, where YHWH made for Adam and Eve a cloak of skins for them, after they ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and discovered that they were naked. In a translation, you can read this text without really notice something. Possibly, you would be able to derive from the text, that YHWH for the first time sacrifices one of his creations to cover the shame of the man. And that this already faintly pointed out, to the great sacrifice, that YHWH will do in order to save mankind, through His Son. But when you look in the original language of this verse, then you will discover that this text has to tell us, more than just a ‘sacrifice’ on the side of YHWH.
‘Or or ‘Or
The Hebrew word that is used to indicate here coats of skins, whereof the cloak is made is ‘or (ayin, waw, resh; עור). Already in Genesis 1 verse 3 we meet a similar Hebrew word ‘or (aleph, waw, resh; אור). The pronunciation of the words is almost identical (this is because the aleph and the ayin are a throat sound), but both first letters are different. In Genesis 1 verse 3 is the first letter of ‘or an aleph and means light, while in Genesis 3 Verse 21 the first letter of ‘or an ayin and has the significance skin.
Now you may wonder of the deeper dimension. I will try to make this clear in several areas within the Jewish way of explaining.
As you may know, the ancient Hebrew script consisted symbols or images (see figure), instead of the now well-known square script, with we are now familiar. The aleph (א) symbolized an os/bull and meant power, leader or first. The ayin (ע) symbolized an eye and meant see, know or awareness.
We know from the Word of God that YHWH is light (Psalm 27:1, 36:9; 84:11; Isaiah 60:9). Also, we read in Genesis 1:26 that the man is created in the image of YHWH. If YHWH is light, would it not be that the man before the fall was covered with the light of YHWH? And when they took the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that they lost this cloak of light, through what they noticed that they were naked?
This idea is not developed out of nowhere, because in the Jewish comments we see this line of thought. In the Jewish Writings Zohar Bereshiet the commentator suggests on the interpretation of Genesis 3:21 that Adam and Eve wore before the fall clothes of light, but after they sinned, they received of God clothing of skins. Another Midrash source also claims that Adam was created not naked.
‘What was the costume of Adam: scaly skin and the cloud of glory covered him. When he (Adam) ate of the tree of knowledge, the scaly skin fell off and he saw himself naked, and the cloud of glory disappeared.’
Another Jewish approach of the two different words ‘or is from the angle of the gematria, a mode of numerology. Within the Jewish alphabet each letter has a numeric value (see figure). The aleph (א) has the numerical value of 1 and the ayin (ע) the numerical value of 70. The numeric difference between the Aleph and the ayin is 69. In order to form the number 69, you need two Hebrew letters, these are the teth ט (with the numerical value 9) and the samech ס (numerical value 60).
The teth symbolizes snake and it means enwrap, encircle. The samech symbolizes prop (pillar) and means support, agree. When you put the two together, it means ‘to support the snake’. In other words, by granting with the snake Adam and Eve exchanged the cloak of light with the clothing of skins (of the snake?).
Thus Adam and Eve were first children of light (God), but by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they became children of the snake (the devil).
The next time we continue and we going to look what the New Testament has to say about it.