Genesis 3:21
And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.

I'm curious about the "skin" in that verse. Because (at least to me), it's not clear what kind of skin. It can be an animal skin but it also can be a tree skin.

I post almost the same question here.
And after I dig more, I've found out there are different thinking about the "skin" in the verse :

From this link
skins =

  • their physical bodies (Origen)
  • the bark of trees (Gregory Nazianzen)
  • miraculously-fashioned apparel (Grotius)

several church fathers discuss the skins

So I wonder if there are also different thinking about the "skins" in Genesis 3:21 in Judaism.


1 Answer 1


The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 20:12) explains the difference of opinions on what "skin" refers to. The Midrash says:

These are the garments of Adam the first man, that were similar to the common rue, broad at the bottom and narrow at the top.
Rabbi Yitzḥak Ravya says: They were as smooth as a fingernail and as pretty as jewels. Rabbi Yitzḥak said: It was like the thin linen garments that come from Beit She’an. [And they were called] garments of hide because they adhered to the skin. Rabbi Elazar said: Goat hides. Rabbi Aivu said: Garments that cover the skin. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Hare hides. Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: Hides with their wool. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: Radiant hides. And the firstborn sons would use them. Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥman said: They were camel wool and hare wool. [And they were called] “garments of hide” because they were garments that come from hide.

So, according to the Midrash, the garment could have been made of the skin of:

  1. (Goat) Hides
  2. Hare Hides
  3. Hides with their wool
  4. Camel wool
  5. Hare wool

Refer to the Chizkuni for another opinion:

כתנות עור, the term כתונת is familiar to us from the outer garment made for Joseph by his father, and the linen tunic worn by the High Priest, was intended to cover their bodies and their flesh, as described in Job 5,5, the extremities of their bodies, as opposed to the torso. The point is that the material was not taken from the body of a large mammal that had died, as there had not been time as yet for such skin to have been stretched to make it into leather. Compare Onkelos. According to some opinions the material stemmed from the Leviathan, the female of which G-d had killed and whose meat had been salted away by G-d for use to serve to the righteous in the future.

The Rabbeinu Bahya explains:

Perhaps this leather was made from the animal called Tachash which the Jewish people used as a covering for the Tabernacle in the desert .

According to the many meforshim, the tunic was leather (hide). There are different opinions, though, but this seems to be a re-occuring explanation.

  • Thanks for the answer, Shmuel. So my conclusion : they (The Rabbis) are all agreed that the "skin" in Genesis 3:21 is not linen (from cotton plant), not silk (from the silk worm), not a tree bark, etc. but from four-legged animal skin ... doesn't matter what animal (camel, goat, hare, etc). Please cmiiw.
    – karma
    Mar 30 at 20:44
  • Yes, that seems to be the opinion.
    – Shmuel
    Mar 30 at 20:53
  • 1
    Rashi in one opinion (and maybe Onkelos) seems to say that the 'skin' in the verse means the clothes were close-fitting to the skin (and could this have been made of anything)
    – AKA
    Mar 31 at 1:15
  • Just now I've found in the internet. After Adam sinned, his clothes changed from light [aleph-vav-resh] to leather [ayin-vav-resh]. I think it's from the Kabbalistic view. So, I think this view propose that the "skin" is a human skin as we know now. Before the fall, Adam has a "radiance" skin, a spiritual cloth. jbqnew.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/402/jbq_402_kotnotohr.pdf
    – karma
    Mar 31 at 6:46
  • @AKA, I've found in the same link above about Onkelos : The Aramaic translation (targum) of Onkelos explains: "garments of glory on their skin.". While Ibn Ezra from the same link : We just need to believe that God fashioned for Adam and his wife kotnot or." Ibn Ezra implies that it was an act of God that we cannot question or understand. Thanks.
    – karma
    Mar 31 at 6:49

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