The Creation account of Genesis 2 and the Fall account of Genesis 3 are not only naturally related to each other but also dramatically contrasted by a rhetorical technique called paronomasia as shown in the three Hebrew terms `ārôm (~Ar[', 2:25), `ārûm (~Wr[', 3:1), and `êrôm (~roy[e, 3:7, 10, 11). Unfortunately, however, this fact has been misinterpreted, as well as totally or partially overlooked.
The purpose of this research was to investigate the usage of the three Hebrew terms in the Old Testament, to decide their meanings in each of their contexts, to check the suitability of their translations, and finally to perceive the intention shown in the delicate wordplay the three Hebrew words create. The research was done mainly from the synchronic/literary perspective, while keeping in mind possible changes in their meanings through the ages. The results can be recapitulated as follows:First, the Hebrew term `ārûm employed for the description of the serpent in Genesis 3:1 is used obviously with a positive connotation and thus should not be translated as “cunning” or “subtle,” but “clever” or “wise.” The usage of `ārûm in Genesis 3:1 may be a double entendre, connoting not only the “wise” serpent as the instrument of the Fall but also the “cunning” Tempter who made the serpent his instrument. In that case, however, there is no way to translate it suitably.
Second, the Hebrew term `êrôm (pl. `êrummîm) used in describing the post-Fall Adam and his wife in Genesis 3:7, 10, 11 means ‘complete nakedness’ of shame and humiliation, with genitals exposed, of which the meaning is clearly shown in Genesis 3 itself, and especially in Ezekiel 16:7 and 23:29, and thus it should be properly translated as “naked” or “nude.”Third, the Hebrew term `ārôm, chosen to describe the pre-Fall Adam and his wife predominantly connotes ‘partial nakedness’ in other contexts, but not ‘total nakedness,’ and thus should be contextually translated as “lightly dressed,” “poorly clothed,” or “in undergarments only.” The word `ārôm (pl. `arûmmīm) in Genesis 2:25 has been interpreted to mean their pre-Fall childlike innocence, but it rather seems to portray their being clothed with light, being in the “image of God,” just as God wraps Himself with light as with a garment (Ps 104:2). However, their robe of light must have departed forever soon after the Fall, and consequently they became `êrôm (pl. `êrumîm), that is, completely “naked.” Therefore, the translation “naked” is not suitable for depicting their being clothed with light, but there is no proper translation of this word that denotes “robe of light.”Last but not least, the reason for employing `ārûm in Genesis 3:1 instead of ḥāḵām (~kx, “clever, wise”) or śākal (lk;f', “be prudent, have insight”) must be for the rhetorical technique of the wordplay that it makes with `arûmmīm (sg. `ārôm) in 2:25 and `êrummîm (sg. `êrôm) in 3:7, 10, 11. The paronomasia that `ārôm (pl. `arûmmīm, Gen 2:25), `ārûm (3:1), and `êrôm (pl. `êrummîm, 3:7, 10, 11) make may be intended to bring into prominence the point of departure for the tragic event of the Fall, dramatically contrasting the pre-Fall human appearance (`ārôm) with the post-Fall human appearance (`êrôm), as well as naturally connecting the Creation account in Genesis 2 with the Fall account in Genesis 3.