In ‘stark’ contrast to my earlier Fleshly Desire paper, the term ‘nakedness’ in scripture, by and large, does not convey a positive connotation of that condition. Why am I writing this paper now? Well, after many years of researching the scriptures, it has only recently struck me that the nakedness of the human body is mentioned frequently in the scriptures, either directly or as a metaphor. So, once again, since nakedness is clearly important to Jehovah, perhaps we should take more note of the relevant scriptures.
Attitude to Nakedness
As always, let us start at the very beginning:
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2 KJV)
Why does scripture start out by telling us that Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their naked bodies? Well, as we learnt in our Fleshly Desire paper, as beautiful as the human body can be, it can also easily lead to man’s downfall through lustful temptation. But this only becomes an issue once we are knowledgeable about the means of human procreation. In Adam and Eve’s case this was once they had partaken of the forbidden fruit:
5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (Genesis 3 ASV)
Shame in the human body would now appear to be inbuilt in us today. In every nation, for people to be fully clothed is the norm. Only in circumstances where the climate is very hot or we are swimming/sun-bathing in public places do we let our guard down but, even then, we cover our procreative parts for ‘decency’s’ sake. I have to say that I think it more than a little interesting that, compared to the rest of God’s earthly creatures, we are the only species that needs to wear clothes to protect us from the climate. We have no fur, feathers or blubber to protect us from cold weather. Even in hot climates, we need to wear coverings to protect us from the worst effects of the sun’s rays. Given that Adam and Eve only sewed garments on themselves after partaking of the forbidden fruit, and then only to cover their privates it would seem, one must assume that the climate in the Garden of Eden of itself did not require the wearing of any protective covering.
Moving rapidly from one end of the Bible to the other, we see that shame in the nakedness of the human body is again referenced by the Spirit to the early church. This time, however, it is used as a metaphorical warning to the congregations to clean up their act and to replace their material thinking with that of the spiritual:
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3 ASV)
In the aftermath of battle, the Children of Israel tended to their Judean captives and returned them near to their homes:
15 And the men who had been called by name rose and took the captives, and they clothed all the naked ones from the plunder; yea, they clothed them and shod them, and made them eat and drink, and anointed them, and led them out on asses, even every feeble one, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palms, near their brothers, and returned to Samaria. (2 Chronicles 28 GLT)
The point here is that some of the captives were naked from the plunder following battle as, presumably, they had fine clothes worth the stealing. I suspect that it was also partly to put the captives into a state of shame for following their evil King Ahaz and losing on the field of battle. But in tending to the naked ones, they clothed them. Whether this was to keep them from the cold or to cover their ‘shame’ I will let the reader decide but I suspect it may have been both. Again, one may ask ‘why have we been told this?’ The nature of human nakedness is raised in this apparently irrelevant verse to the topic in hand. It is as if the Bible is constantly reminding us of this highly important topic lest we forget.
Micah, in describing the sins of Israel and Judah, is disconsolate to the extent that he threatens to strip and go naked as a sign of the shame of his nation:
8 For this will I lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals, and a lamentation like the ostriches. (Micah 1 ASV)
8עַל-זֹאת אֶסְפְּדָה וְאֵילִילָה, אֵילְכָה שילל (שׁוֹלָל) וְעָרוֹם; אֶעֱשֶׂה מִסְפֵּד כַּתַּנִּים, וְאֵבֶל כִּבְנוֹת יַעֲנָה. (Micah 1 WLC)
(NB. Whilst the above translation looks like stripped and naked in repetition for emphasis, this is actually an example of Qere and Kethiv in the Hebrew scriptures ‘שילל (שׁוֹלָל)’ or what is written and spoken for a particular word. Both are included as alternatives with the written being the correct version of the word. Once again I find all the English translations, that I have looked at, contain this repetitive fault. I am sure the Lords' Witnesses could have produced a code-preserving Bible translation, but this would have proved a massive undertaking with the time left in this system being spent on decoding God's word. For the interested reader please check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qere_and_Ketiv)
In a similar vein, but explicitly under Jehovah’s instruction, Isaiah goes naked and barefoot as a sign of the shame of Ethiopia and Egypt to come at the hands of the Assyrians:
2 at that time Jehovah spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loosen the sackcloth from your loins, and take your shoe off from your foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 And Jehovah said, Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years (a sign and a wonder on Egypt and on Ethiopia)
4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Ethiopia, young and old; naked and barefoot, and with uncovered buttocks; [to] the nakedness of Egypt.
5 And they shall be afraid and ashamed of their hope Ethiopia, and of their glory Egypt. (Isaiah 20 GLT)
The above account is interesting in that it becomes crystal clear that God believes that one’s nakedness is a sign of shame to others. Now at the end of the creation days, God states that everything that He had made was ‘very good’. This presumably must have included Adam and Eve. So, the idea of shame in the naked human body clearly came solely from mankind once their eyes had been opened as to the procreative function of their bodies:
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1 KJV)
Apart from this sense of shame in being naked, Job stated the one incontrovertible fact of our very existence. We come into this world totally naked of clothing and any possessions. In returning to the grave though, I would argue that we go to Hades as naked spirits returning without even our physical human bodies until such time as we are provided with new non-Adamic flesh:
21 and he said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah. (Job 1 ASV)
Being naked is also used as a term of impoverishment or need. Paul, in his letters to the Roman and Corinthian congregations, lists the numerous sufferings of mankind, nakedness or exposure being one of them:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8 KJV)
27 in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11 NWT)
The message to resolve these ills for one’s neighbour is conveyed in the Gospels:
35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in;
36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (Matthew 25 ASV)
And in James’ letter:
15 If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food,
16 and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2 ASV)
Sins Related To Nakedness
As I mentioned in my Fleshly Desire paper, there are vast swathes of Leviticus Chapter 18 devoted to the sins of uncovering the nakedness of one and all with whom one may come into contact. Clearly this is serious confirmation that making others physically naked is not a good thing, in God’s eyes. I copy the whole of these 'nakedness' laws so that you do not think that I am just making this all up:
6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover [their] nakedness: I [am] the LORD.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she [is] thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it [is] thy father's nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, [whether she be] born at home, or born abroad, [even] their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, [even] their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs [is] thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she [is] thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she [is] thy father's near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she [is] thy mother's near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she [is] thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she [is] thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it [is] thy brother's nakedness.
17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; [for] they [are] her near kinswomen: it [is] wickedness.
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex [her], to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life [time]. (Leviticus 18 KJV)
In his end-times vision, the causing of a neighbour to get drunk and reveal their nakedness is mentioned as a particular sinful act in Habakkuk’s revelation:
15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, [to thee] that addest thy venom, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! (Habakkuk 2 ASV)
Whilst I think the above scripture relates largely to a metaphorical and spiritual meaning of nakedness, the physical sense is also intended to be covered as in Noah’s case perhaps? The final account of Noah’s life contains a somewhat enigmatic tale of nakedness that has left many a bible commentator (this one included) scratching his chin in perplexity:
18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These three were the sons of Noah: and of these was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be a husbandman, and planted a vineyard:
21 and he drank of the wine, and was drunken. And he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father. And their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. (Genesis 9 ASV)
The first point to note is that Ham told his brothers of their father’s nakedness but did nothing himself to cover him up. His brothers did that respectfully by ensuring their eyes did not fall upon their father’s ‘shame’. Their righteous behaviour foreshadowed Moses’ Law as previously stated at length:
6 None of you shall draw near to any relative of his flesh to uncover [their] nakedness; I [am] Jehovah.
7 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother; she [is] your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness. (Leviticus 18 GLT)
In waking, Noah knew what Canaan, the youngest son of Ham had done to him. So, although Ham had not done the most righteous thing by his father, it was actually Canaan that had abused his grandfather Noah in some way to the extent that Noah cursed him. Whatever Canaan had done to Noah, Noah was clear on what had been done to him by Canaan so there must have been some recollection of Canaan’s act of abuse. One question that arises for me is ‘How did Noah come to be naked in the first place?’ My own personal take on this is that it was Canaan that helped him undress in his drunken stupor which Noah remembered and for which he cursed him. For the interested among you there is a fuller and greater meaning to this account on the TBC website at An introduction to Satan, Michael, Gabriel: Satan was the firstborn angel.
Ezekiel writes a more general and succinct accusation on the subject of nakedness from God against the whole of mankind:
10 In thee have they uncovered their fathers' nakedness; in thee have they humbled her that was unclean in her impurity. (Ezekiel 22 ASV)
Job also has much to say about how the wicked ones act unrighteously towards the innocent ones. Included in his litany of their sinful behaviour is their causing of others’ nakedness and exposure to the elements:
7 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that [they have] no covering in the cold.
8 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.
9 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.
10 They cause [him] to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf [from] the hungry; (Job 24 KJV)
In comparison we have a very Christian sentiment from the prophet Isaiah who argues that we should clothe the naked with our own clothes, if need be, even to the extent of making ourselves naked:
7 Is it not the dividing of your bread out to the hungry one, and that you should bring the afflicted, homeless people into [your] house? That, in case you should see someone naked, you must cover him, and that you should not hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58 NWT)
The Solemnity of Holy Worship
God was concerned that the Aaronic priesthood did not inadvertently distract the Israelite congregation by revealing their naughty parts when mounting the heights of the altar, given the loose clothing of the day in a middle- eastern climate:
26 (20-23) Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon. (Exodus 20 JPS)
This was resolved later on by giving the priests appropriate clothing to cover their privates:
42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they go in unto the tent of meeting, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and unto his seed after him. (Exodus 28 ASV)
This is a specific case of Jehovah’s ensuring that the procreative aspects of the human body had no part to play in His worship. So, we have a further example of the pre-occupation that the human species has with its sexual apparatus, which our God knows only too well. Interestingly, in the case of this particular scripture, the word 'nakedness' is intended to specifically describe man's reproductive equipment. I think this meaning is to be more generally applied to many of the scriptures referenced in this paper.
The Bible makes heavy use of the state of nakedness as the metaphorical exposure of the sinful secrets and lies of men and nations to one and all. In the following case, Isaiah is warning the Babylonians of Jehovah’s intent to expose their misdeeds. The metaphor again explicitly links the notion of nakedness with its inherent shame:
3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen; I will take vengeance, and will let no man intercede. (Isaiah 47 JPS)
Similarly, a warning to Nineveh from Jehovah via His prophet Nahum:
5 Behold, I am against thee, saith Jehovah of hosts, and I will uncover thy skirts upon thy face; and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. (Nahum 3 ASV)
And this early warning from Jehovah, should the Children of Israel not follow God’s commandments:
48 therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies that Jehovah shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. (Deuteronomy 28 ASV)
The following verses carry the metaphorical use of nakedness to another level. Here Ezekiel is remonstrating with Jerusalem (Judah) on God’s behalf. Despite Jerusalem’s sinful ways, Jehovah had chosen His holy city. He recognises her naked exposed state but, in comparison to the Babylonian nation, He recognises her beauty and covers up her nakedness as He effectively takes her to wife:
7 I caused thee to multiply as that which groweth in the field, and thou didst increase and wax great, and thou attainedst to excellent ornament; thy breasts were fashioned, and thy hair was grown; yet thou wast naked and bare.
8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord Jehovah, and thou becamest mine. (Ezekiel 16 ASV)
But then her adultery, through idol worship, is exposed to all:
36 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness uncovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers; and because of all the idols of thy abominations, and for the blood of thy children, that thou didst give unto them;
37 therefore behold, I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them against thee on every side, and will uncover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness.
38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will bring upon thee the blood of wrath and jealousy.
39 I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thy vaulted place, and break down thy lofty places; and they shall strip thee of thy clothes, and take thy fair jewels; and they shall leave thee naked and bare. (Ezekiel 16 ASV)
And then we have the later behaviour of Judah, which is described in lavish fleshly detail, whereby she indulged in adulterous behaviour as God’s wife:
8 Neither hath she left her whoredoms since [the days of] Egypt; for in her youth they lay with her, and they handled the bosom of her virginity; and they poured out their whoredom upon her.
9 Wherefore I delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
10 These uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters; and her they slew with the sword: and she became a byword among women; for they executed judgments upon her. (Ezekiel 23 ASV)
And this from the Prophet Jeremiah:
8 Jerusalem has committed outright sin. That is why she has become a mere abhorrent thing. All who were honoring her have treated her as something cheap, for they have seen her nakedness. She herself is also sighing and turns her back. [Tehth] (Lamentations 1 NWT)
In Hosea’s earlier scripture, Judah is given a warning, that her behaviour prior to becoming God’s wife, in worshipping foreign gods, will need changing. The metaphor here extends to the prior adulterous behaviour itself as well as the repeated warning that Jehovah will, once again, expose Judah’s nakedness by removing all His blessings from her:
2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she [is] not my wife, neither [am] I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. (Hosea 2 KJV)
7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it] better with me than now.
8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, [which] they prepared for Baal.
9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax [given] to cover her nakedness. (Hosea 2 KJV)
And it was the same story for her sister Samaria (Israel) with an equally fleshly metaphor for her adultery as god’s wife:
17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their lust; and she was polluted with them, and her soul was alienated from them.
18 So she uncovered her harlotries, and uncovered her nakedness; then My soul was alienated from her, like as My soul was alienated from her sister. (Ezekiel 23 JPS)
And more of the same language addressed to the Children of Israel as betraying their marriage bed with their God:
8 And behind the doors and the posts hast thou set up thy memorial: for thou hast uncovered [thyself] to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them: thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it. (Isaiah 57 ASV)
And yet another warning from Jehovah to the Children of Israel that, if they did not mend their ways, He would ensure that they no longer have His support in fighting battles against their enemies. The naked metaphor here, I guess, would be to effectively remove Israel’s armour and weaponry to prevent their ability to fight. I would imagine that there are very few soldiers, even those among the bravest, that would be prepared to fight a battle in an undressed state against a fully dressed army (LOL):
16 and he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith Jehovah. (Amos 2 ASV)
This metaphorical notion of nakedness continues through to the final Book of the Bible where the harlot, aka all false churches and religions, will be exposed for what they truly are: man-made organisations with no authority from God, arguably making them Jehovah’s worst enemy:
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17 KJV)
Paul uses nakedness as another form of metaphor to his congregation at Corinth. In the following verses he likens nakedness to mankind’s current exposed physical nature, lacking the protection to be afforded to us by God in the Kingdom:
2 For also in this we groan, greatly desiring to be clothed with our dwelling place out of Heaven,
3 if indeed [in] being clothed, we shall not be found naked.
4 For indeed, being in the tabernacle, we groan, having been weighted down, inasmuch as we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed, so that the mortal may be swallowed up by the life. (2 Corinthians 5 GLT)
Likewise in his letter to the Hebrews, he makes it clear that everything is visible to our Lord. This comprises all matters physical and spiritual and, in this again, makes use of the metaphor of nakedness or exposure. The concept of nakedness is clearly dear to our God’s heart; in God’s Kingdom there will no longer be the need to clothe ourselves in lies since we will all be living in the Truth, Amen:
13 And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4 ASV)
And then finally we have one of the end-times warnings in the Bible, from our God, that we must keep on the watch and to keep our clothes on for our salvation. Otherwise, our nakedness will be exposed to all to our shame. This must again be referring to the exposure of our sinful natures rather than our physical bodies:
15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed [is] he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16 KJV)
Date of Publication: 3rd March 2022.
Nakedness in The Scriptures
Jewish Lords' Witness