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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Nakedness

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A. Nouns.

‛Ervâh (עֶרְוָה, Strong's #6172), “nakedness; indecent thing.” Thirty-two of the 53 occurrences of this noun are in the social laws of Lev. 18, 20. The rest of its appearances are scattered throughout the various periods of Old Testament literature with the notable exception of poetical literature.

This word represents male or female sexual organs. In its first biblical appearance ‛ervâh implies shameful exposure: “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father.… 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” (Gen. 9:22-23). This word is often used of female nakedness (the uncovered sex organs) and is symbolical of shame. In Lam. 1:8 plundered, devastated Jerusalem is pictured as a woman whose nakedness is exposed. To uncover one’s nakedness is a frequent euphemism for cohabitation: “None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord” (Lev. 18:6).

The phrase “indecent thing” represents any uncleanness in a military camp or any violation of the laws of sexual abstinence—nocturnal emission not properly cleansed, sexual cohabitation and other laws of purity (for example, excrement buried in the camp): “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing [literally, “a matter of an indecent thing”] in thee, and turn away from thee” (Deut. 23:14). In Deut. 24:1 ‛ervâh appears to bear this emphasis on any violation of the laws of purity—if a groom is dissatisfied with his bride “because he hath found some uncleanness in her,” he may divorce her. Obviously this evidence is not of previous cohabitation, since such a sin merits death (Deut. 22:13ff.).

The “undefended parts” or “nakedness” of a land is represented by ‛ervâh in Gen. 42:9: “Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.”

Other nouns related to this word appear less often. Ma’ar, which refers to “sexual nakedness,” appears in a figurative sense in Nah. 3:5. ‘Erom appears as a noun abstract in several instances. This word represents the more general idea of being without clothes, with no necessary suggestion of shamefulness; it means the “state of being unclothed.” In Ezek. 16:7, 39 the word ‘erom appears as “naked,” but it can literally be translated as “nakedness” or one being in his “nakedness.”

Two nouns, ta’ar and morah, have a different significance. Ta’ar which occurs 13 times, means “razor” (Num. 6:5) or a “knife” to sharpen scribal pens (Jer. 36:23). The word’s meaning of a “sword sheath” (1 Sam. 17:51) has a cognate in Ugaritic. Morah also means “razor”(1 Sam. 1:11).

B. Adjectives.

‛Ârôm (עָרֹם, Strong's #6174), or ‛Ârôm (עָרוֺם, Strong's #6174), “naked.” This word occurs 16 times. The first occurrence is in Gen. 2:25: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Another adjective, found 6 times in biblical poetry, is ‘eryah. It appears to be a variant spelling of ’erwah. One appearance is in Ezek. 16:22: “… When thou wast naked and bare.…”

C. Verb.

‛Ârâh (עָרָה, Strong's #6168), “to pour out, make bare, destroy, spread oneself out.” This verb, which appears 14 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Akkadian, Phoenician, Egyptian, and Syriac. The word means “to pour out” in Isa. 32:15: " Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high.…” The verb implies “to make bare” in Lev. 20:19. ‛Ârâh is used in the sense of “to destroy” in Isa. 3:17: “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.” In Ps. 37:35 the word means “to spread oneself out.”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Nakedness'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/n/nakedness.html. 1940.

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