Genesis 3:21 Why leather garments?

God had just expelled Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden. Verse 21 reads, “For the man and his wife the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them.”

Why leather garments? Why not hemp material? Did this give Adam and Eve permission to hunt animals for their skins?

My husband an ex-protestant (of the Baptist persuasion) minister says that to cover sin blood must be shed, thus the blood of the animal is an atoning sacrifice for the sin of disobedience. And that is also why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted.

We both would like to know if this is an okay interpretation, and what are some other possible interpretations.

Thanks and God bless!

Welcome to the forum.
I’m no authority but I don’t think your interpretation is out of line at all.
I’ve also heard the verse interpreted as showing God’s mercy to mankind. While steeped in shame and hiding from God and each other, God returns to Adam and Eve some modicum of dignity by clothing them. Much later, men and women would be afforded the ultimate dignity of ‘putting on’ Christ.


I like the way your husband explained it. I’ve never heard or thought of that, but it makes sense that the first sacrifice would be at the “hands” of God Himself and that it would set the example for further sacrifices He would require to atone for sin.

Very interesting and meaningful!

That sounds like an excellent interpretation for me, OP’s does too because it reads the NT into the OT: God sacrificed the blood of an animal to cover the nakedness of our first parents, just as he would later sacrifice his own Son to cover all our sins and give us eternal life.

As for Cain and Abel, it was my understanding from Challoner’s commentary that it wasn’t so much the fact that Cain sacrificed plants and Abel animals but more the internal attitudes of the two men.

You are correct.

Able gave from his best. Cain simply gave what he could spare. This reflected their internal attitudes.

Regarding the OP’s point, it looks like it is spot-on!

I got this from AgapeBibleStudy - a Catholic Bible Study site:

This is the first act of the shedding of blood in animal sacrifice association with sin.  The fig leaves are not enough ([Gen 3:7]("")).  God sacrifices an animal to “*cover*” the nakedness—the loss of grace—of Adam and Eve.  The shedding of animal blood will become the temporary means for remission of sins until a more perfect remedy can be offered for the forgiveness of man’s sins: ***For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiates for a life***([Lev 17:10](""); also see [Heb 9:22]("")).  In this act of sacrifice, God does for the alienated couple what they are incapable of doing for themselves.  He “*covers*” their sin and restores their fellowship with Him and with each other until a new and more perfect covenant can be established through a “*perfect*” sacrifice ([Jer 31:31-34](""); [Heb 10:1-18]("")).

Wow, this is a great thread. Thanks for posting it Poustinia.

Adam and Eve initially made their own clothes from leaves (Gen 3:7), then God made them wear the leather (Gen 3:21).

According to St Methodius the skins represent man’s mortality:
“In order, then, that man might not be an undying or ever-living evil, as would have been the case if sin were dominant within him, as it had sprung up in an immortal body, and was provided with immortal sustenance, God for this cause pronounced him mortal, and clothed him with mortality. For this is what was meant by the coats of skins, in order that, by the dissolution of the body, sin might be altogether destroyed from the very roots, that there might not be left even the smallest particle of root from which new shoots of sin might again burst forth.”

to answer the other part-hunting and eating of animal flesh was prohibited until after Noah.

*Rabbi David Fohrman has written an extensive analysis on this at entitled The World’s First Murder **- *He showed that Abel his best in gratitude, while Cain gave what he thought necessary to keep God on his side.

I don’t know an easy way to get to this. I just go to the AISH link given above and type World’s First Murder in the search box.

I don’t agree with the sacrifice aspect of it at all.

First, it says God made them garments of skins and clothed them. No animal death is mentioned at all. He could have created those skins without killing any animal.

Also, God doesn’t meet His justice by performing a sacrifice on behalf of someone else. That would be like a Judge going to prison for a convicted felon. God accepts sacrifices from those who sin against Him.

Cain’s and Abel’s sacrifices were not atonement sacrifices, they were offerings of “firstfruits,” a thanksgiving offering to God in thanks for the bounty of flocks or harvest. There is no record of either one sinning at the time the offerings were made.

Finally, if this were a “first sacrifice,” why on Earth is there no record in all of Adam’s 900+ year life of him making further sacrifices? You’d think he’d be offering up animal after animal to try and make up for his sin and hopefully attain mercy and get back in that garden.

I would interpret the skins as merely symbolic of need for something (protection) once they are put out of the presence of God (out of the garden). Being outside of His presence meant they would no longer enjoy an existence where they had everything provided and nothing to worry about. Now in a world where sin and death had entered, they would need something else, which would actually be God’s divine protection, just symbolized by protective skins. God’s plan was for them to procreate, thus he protects them, symbolically with skins.

If you look at Adam’s role in Eden, all the terminology God uses will be extremely similar to the terminology used in Leviticus for the priestly role. I’ll see if I can find the study on that, but it is obvious that Adam’s role was a priestly role and priests offer sacrifice.

Previously in this forum some nice discussion occurred regarding the origin of the offering of Cain and Abel. The post inquires into why Cain and Abel are offering in the first place. Some in this thread may appreciate it. Here’s a link.

Peter K

The fig leaf clothing foreshadows “the religion of Judaism.”

The leather clothing foreshadows “the religion of the sacrificed victim,” Christianity.

By Judaism, you are refering to the religion described in the New Testament and in Post crucifixion/Pentecost Christendom?
Especially since the OT sacrificial system and its scriptures were 'school-teachers to bring us to Christ".

maybe god heard about winter

Funny, I was thinking the same thing. Fig leaves are not very protective, leather is.
Hemp garments would require that people weave and sew the hemp into garments, a later skill that men would develop later in more civilized times. Certainly the first people wore animal skins. Most primative people still wear skins and feathers and bones.

All this may be true, but I think crow has it figured out!

Dear DOShea,

I wish to correct your error about God from post #11.

“God doesn’t meet His justice by performing a sacrifice on behalf of someone else. That would be like a Judge going to prison for a convicted felon.”

You used legal terms to describe God’s justice.

The liturgy describes Jesus and His ministry in legal terms.
The first preface for Ascension: …“Christ, the mediator between God and man, judge of the world”…
The third preface for Easter: He is …“our advocate who always pleads our cause”…

Rom 5:8 “…(W)hile we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Jesus went to the cross innocent of any crime and by his death we were saved from the due punishment for sin, which is death. This certainly looks like a Judge going to prison for a convicted felon.


I wish to thank everyone for replying to my question.


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