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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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The Hebrew word עָרוֹם, arom', rendered "naked" in our Bibles, means absolute nakedness in such passages as Job 1:21; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Micah 1:8; Amos 2:16; but in other places it means one who is ragged or poorly clad (John 21:7; Isaiah 58:7), in the same sense as γυμνός in James 2:15, which does not indeed differ from a familiar application of the word "naked" among ourselves. A more peculiar and Oriental sense of the word is that in which it is applied to one who has laid aside his loose outer garment, and goes about in his tunic. When, therefore, Saul is described as having lain down "naked" (1 Samuel 19:24), we are to understand that he had laid aside his flowing outer robe; and it was thus that Isaiah went "naked" and barefoot (Isaiah 20:2; comp. John 21:7). Our use of the word "undress," to denote simply a dress less than that which we consider full and complete, corresponds to this signification of the word. (See DRESS).

This word is also used metaphorically to signifyput to shame, stripped of resources, void of succor, disarmed. Thus in Jeremiah 49:10, "I have made Esau bare," etc., signifies the destruction of the Edomites, God having exposed them defenceless to their invaders. The "nakedness of a land" (Genesis 42:9) signifies the weak and ruined parts of it where the country lies most open and exposed to danger. "Naked" is also put for discovered, known, manifest. So in Job 26:6, "Hell is naked before him;" the unseen state of the dead is open to the eyes of God. St. Paul says in the same sense, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). Nakedness also signifies sin or folly. Thus in Genesis 3:7 it is indicative of sin in general; in Exodus 32:25; 2 Chronicles 28:19; Ezekiel 16:36, it is put for idolatry; and elsewhere in the Scriptures for all kinds of vice, but idolatry in particular.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Naked'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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