The Garment of Adam in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Tradition

Although rarely occurring in any detail, the motif of Adam’s garment appears with surprising frequency in ancient Jewish and Christian literature. (I am using the term “Adam’s garment” as a cover term to include any garment bestowed by a divine being to one of the patriarchs that is preserved and passed on, in many instances, from one generation to another. I will thus also consider garments divinely granted to other patriarchal figures, including Noah, Abraham, and Joseph.) Although attested less often than in the Jewish and Christian sources, the motif also occurs in the literature of early Islam, especially in the Isra’iliyyāt literature in the Muslim authors al-Thaclabī and al-Kisā’ī as well as in the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity). Particularly when discussing the garment of Adam in the Jewish tradition, I will shatter chronological boundaries, ranging from the biblical, pseudepigraphic, and midrashic references to the garment of Adam to its medieval attestations.1 In what follows, I wish to consider (1) the garment of Adam as a primordial creation; (2) the garment as a locus of power, a symbol of authority, and a high priestly garb; and (3) the garment of Adam and heavenly robes.2

1. The Garment of Adam as a Primordial Creation

The traditions of Adam’s garment in the Hebrew Bible begin quite sparely, with a single verse in Genesis 3:21, where we are informed that “God made garments of skins for Adam and for his wife and clothed them.” Probably the oldest rabbinic traditions include the view that God gave garments to Adam and Eve before the Fall but that these were not garments of skin (Hebrew côr) but instead garments of light (Hebrew ‘ôr).3 Rabbi Jacob of Kefar Ḥanan surmises that the section describing the investiture actually belongs after Genesis 2:25, which reads, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed,” but was moved to 3:21 in order that the section “conclude not with the serpent but with a note of God’s care.”4 Genesis Rabbah 3:21 runs as follows:

In R. Meir’s Torah it was found written, “Garments of light . . . refer to Adam’s garments, which were like a torch [shedding radiance], broad at the bottom and narrow at the top. Isaac the Elder said: “They were as smooth as a finger-nail and as beautiful as a Jewel.” R. Johanan said: “They were like the fine linen garments which come from Bethshean, garment of skin meaning those that are nearest to the skin.”5

This passage continues with the names of other rabbis who said that the garments were made of goat’s skin or wool. But divinely provided garb was not restricted to Adam at the time of creation. According to several rabbis, when God made woman (Genesis 2:22) he adorned her and decked her out with twenty-four pieces of finery (Isaiah 3:18–24). Muslim tradition, as seen in the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā , takes a different view—Adam was covered with hair until the expulsion from Paradise, at which time he lost it:

When God created Adam, first father of mankind, and his mate, He compensated for all their deficiencies by providing them with all they needed to survive and maintain their existence as individuals—provender, nourishment, cover, clothing, just as He did for all the other animals who were in that garden on top of that mountain in the East on the equator. For, since He had created them naked, He caused to grow, from the head of each, long hair which fell down along their bodies on all sides in thick profusion to their feet, black and soft as the most beautiful that graced any virgin maid. He raised them both as two beardless, adolescent youths of the finest form of any of the animals there. This hair, a garment to them both, covering their nakedness, served as their coat, carpet, cloak, and defense against cold and heat. They used to walk in that garden, plucking the various fruits, eating of them and living on them, strolling innocently in the lush meads and greenery, among the blooming flowers, peacefully, pleasantly, happy, content, and full of joy, without toil to the body or trouble to the soul. They were forbidden to overstep their station and take what was not theirs before the proper time, but they ignored the command of their Lord and were seduced by the words of their Foe. They took what had been forbidden, so they fell from their high rank, and their hair parted, revealing their nakedness. They were expelled thence, naked, banished, objects of contempt, punished by the imposition of new necessities for the sustenance of their lives in this world and new modes by which they must seek to secure their welfare.6

There is also a tradition that Adam’s garment was made from the serpent or Leviathan. Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer notes that “from the skin [of Leviathan] the Holy One, blessed be He, made garments of glory for Adam and for his helpmate.”7 According to Ginzberg, this tradition is intended to retain the sense of brightness for both øôr “light” and côr “skin,” since Leviathan’s skin was believed to have a shining luster.8 In another tradition in 3 Baruch, Samael “took the serpent as a garment” in order to deceive Adam.9 When God cursed the serpent, he caused it to lose its skin every year, just as Adam had lost the garment of light when he had transgressed.10 Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer also says that the garment of the first man was a “skin of nail” and he was covered with a “cloud of glory.”11 After he sinned Adam was deprived of both the skin of nail and the cloud of glory and saw that he was naked. In another version, after Adam and Eve sinned, the garment of light fell from them. When they repented, God made for them another garment. The first garment that Adam and Eve had worn fled to heaven, where it is now in the treasury of the heavens.12 Thus, the writer of the Odes of Solomon exclaims, “I was covered with the covering of your spirit, and I removed from me my garments of skin.”13

Erik Peterson observes that, according to the early Christian tradition, “Adam and Eve were stripped by the Fall, in such a way that they saw that they were naked. This means that formerly they were clothed.”14 Adam and Eve wore the “robe of light” or the “robe of sanctity” before their fall; thereafter, they assumed a “garment of humility.”15 Thus, the white robes16 received by early Christians at the time of baptism—a practice that may go back to New Testament times and may be alluded to in Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gk. Christón enedúsasthe)17—represents the garment worn by Adam before his fall, a return to that pre-transgression state of glory and grace.18 Gregory of Nyssa places in sharp focus the contrast between skin vestments from the fallen world and garments of light from paradise: “As if Adam were still living in each of us, we see our nature covered with garments of skin and the fallen leaves of this earthly life, garments which we made for ourselves when we had been stripped of our robes of light, and we put on the vanities, the honors, the passing satisfactions of the flesh instead of our divine robes.”19 In a statement about baptism, Gregory explicitly connects the vestment given at the time of baptism and the paradisiacal garments of Adam and Eve: “Thou hast driven us out of Paradise and called us back. Thou hast taken away the fig-leaves,20 that garment of our misery, and clad us once more with a robe of glory.”21 The nakedness that generally accompanied baptism during this period was widely understood to be a symbol of the return to Paradise.22 Concerning the receipt of the garment at the time of baptism, Jerome states that “when ready for the garment of Christ, we have taken off the tunics of skin, then we shall be clothed with a garment of linen which has nothing of death in it,23 but is wholly white so that, rising from baptism, we may gird our loins in truth and the entire shame of our past sins may be covered.”24 In other words, at the moment of baptism one removes clothes that represent death in the fallen world (“garments of skin”), and puts on white garments that symbolize life in Christ.25 Roger Adams, in his study on iconographic evidence for baptism for the dead in antiquity, notes that a “parallel is made between the situation of Adam in the garden and that of the catechumen in the baptistry, and the candidate is to think of himself as if he were Adam in the garden.”26

According to the Genesis Rabbah, when their eyes were opened after their disobedience later in the afternoon of that first Friday,27 Adam and Eve began to sew, with great difficulty, the leaves of the fig tree, whose fruit had brought the occasion for death into the world, in order to make girdles, shirts, robes, and linen cloaks.28 Muslim tradition portrays a somewhat similar scenario to that given in the Jewish sources: whereas, previous to his disobedience, Adam was covered with hair, afterwards this hair was taken away and he found himself naked. In the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā it states that angels taught Adam how to clothe himself from plant matter.29 According to al-Thaclabī, on the other hand, the first thing that Adam received following his disobedience was a makeshift apron, a garment of leaves that provided him covering against his nakedness.30 Similarly, Jewish tradition stresses that the garments were for the purpose of hiding their nakedness, “covering their shame.” Thus, Jubilees states that God clothed Adam and Eve “and sent them from the garden of Eden. And on that day when Adam went out from the garden of Eden, he offered a sweet-smelling sacrifice . . . in the morning with the rising of the sun from the day he covered his shame. . . . Therefore it is commanded in the heavenly tablets to all who will know the judgment of the Law that they should cover their shame and they should not be uncovered as the gentiles are uncovered.”31 There was a belief among the Jews that “the Patriarchs advanced to the spiritual stage where they assumed the garment of light,” an idea depicted in the third-century A.D. synagogue at Dura.32

2. The Garment of Adam as a Locus of Power, a Symbol of Authority, and as Priestly Robes

The garment given by God to Adam represents not merely protection and repentance, but authority as well.33 Of extraordinary brilliance and splendor and possessed of supernatural qualities,34 Adam’s garment was passed down from Adam to his descendants, who wore it as priestly robes. Thus the Numbers Rabbah states that “as Adam was about to sacrifice, he donned high priestly garments; as it says: ‘God made for Adam and his wife coats of skin’ (Genesis 3:21). They were robes of honor which subsequent firstborn used.”35 The firstborn sons sacrificed while wearing the garment before priests took over the role of sacrificing the offerings.36 Similarly, according to the Midrash Tanḥuma, “the liturgy was performed by the firstborn in [Adam’s garment].”37 It was this garment, passed through the generations from Seth to Noah,38 that was worn by Noah when he sacrificed on an altar.39 It was one of the items that Noah saved and carried with him in the ark.

But the garment was also seen as having power that might be misused by those into whose hands the garment fell. It was stolen by Ham, who handed it down to his son Cush, who later gave it to Nimrod. Nimrod used this garment to obtain power and glory among men, and as a means to deceive man and to gain unconquerable strength.40 Nimrod would also use the garment while hunting, which caused all the birds and other animals to fall down in honor and respect before him. As a result, the people made him king over them.41 He first became king of Babylon, and “was soon able through skillful and subtle speeches to bring the whole of mankind to the point of accepting him as the absolute ruler of the earth.”42 Appropriately, it was the garment that finally cost Nimrod his life. Nimrod, according to one account, went forth with his people on a great hunt; at that time he was jealous of the great hunter Esau. As Nimrod approached with two attendants, Esau hid, cut off Nimrod’s head, and killed the two attendants.43

Having obtained the garment, Esau either buried it44 or sold it to Jacob along with his birthright. Numbers Rabbah relates that Jacob desired to offer sacrifice but could not because he was not the firstborn and did not have the birthright, part of which consisted of Adam’s garment. It was for this reason that Jacob bought the birthright from Esau, who said, “There is no afterlife, death ends everything, and the inheritance will do me no good,” and willingly let Jacob have the garment, along with his birthright. Immediately Jacob built an altar and offered sacrifice.45 Here, again, Muslim and Jewish traditions overlap. In the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā, Esau’s sale of the birthright to Jacob was symbolized by the transfer of the sacred garment. Again, according to bin Gorion, “Esau’s garment in which Rebekah clothed him, namely those made by God for Adam and Eve, had now rightfully become Jacob’s, and Isaac recognized their paradisiacal fragrance.”46 In a parallel tradition, the early Church Father Hippolytus says that when Isaac laid his hands on Jacob, at the same time feeling Esau’s skin garment, he knew that it was the legitimate heir to the blessing—the garment proved that, for Esau would hardly have parted with the garment if he had been worthy of it.47 Similarly, according to al-Thaclabī, Jacob recognized the same fragrance in the garment of Joseph when it was brought to him by Joseph’s brothers, and at the same time knew by the marks in it that it was the identical garment that he had received from his father and that Adam had received from God in the Garden.48 When the jealous brothers took the garment away and lowered Joseph into the cistern, immediately Gabriel appeared and brought him a garment to protect him, so that he was never without protection.49 The Testament of Zebulon says that Joseph’s brothers took from Joseph his garment of honor and put on him the garment of the slave, a reminder of traditions—also found in al-Thaclabī—of two portions of Joseph’s garment, one that decayed and the other which was miraculously preserved.50 It is Joseph’s preserved garment that is mentioned by Moroni in Alma 46:24: “Jacob . . . saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment.”

The Talmudic tractate Arakhin explains the various parts of the priestly garments:

R. cAnani b. Sason said: Why is the portion about the priestly garments placed next to the portion about the sacrifices? It is to tell you that just as sacrifices procure atonement, so do the priestly garments. The tunic procures atonement for bloodshed, as it is written: And they dipped the coat in the blood. The breeches procure atonement for incest, as it is written: And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness. The mitre procures atonement for those of arrogant mind, in accord with what R. Hanina taught; for he said: Let that which is [placed] high procure atonement for acts of haughtiness. The girdle procures atonement for sinful thoughts of the heart, [for it atones] where it is [worn]. The breastplate procures atonement for [error in] legal decisions, as it is written: And thou shalt make a breastplate of judgment. The ephod procures atonement for idolatry, as it is written: And without ephod or teraphim. The robe procures atonement for slander, for the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let that which emits a sound procure atonement for an act of sound [the voice]. The [golden] plate procures atonement for impudent deeds, for there it is written: And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead.51

In Ezekiel 28:13, we have what may be the only canonical mention of Adam’s garment outside of Genesis.52 Ezekiel says that in the Garden of Eden, the sardius, topaz, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, emerald, carbuncle, and gold were the covering that was to be found on those who dwelled there. These stones are also found on the high priest’s garment, as we see in Exodus 28:17–20. This passage in Ezekiel may be seen as an early attempt to connect Adam’s clothing with that of the high priest. As in Revelation 4:3, precious gems are used as an indication of the glory of the divine presence.53 The Ezekiel Targum states that the garments were covered with various stones, and the stones in turn were inlaid in gold. This fits the description of the high priest’s garment found in Exodus 28 more closely than the description given of the clothing in Ezekiel 28.54

3. Garments of Adam as Heavenly Robes

Louis Ginzberg, in his Legends of the Jews, says that “we shall not go astray if we identify them [Adam’s garments] with the celestial robes of the pious, frequently mentioned in pseudepigraphic literature, and in early Christian as well as kabbalistic writings.”55 The heavenly garment is described as a “shining garment” or “garments of light.” “Garment of light” is the same imagery that we find in the description of Adam’s garment.56

According to Rabbi Akiba, when Michael and Gabriel lead all the sinners up out of hell, “they will wash and anoint them, healing them of their wounds of hell, and clothe them with beautiful, pure garments and lead them into the presence of God.”57 Washing, anointing, and clothing are mentioned as a preparation for marriage in ancient Israel. “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk” (Ezekiel 16:9–10). Similar ceremonies are mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament (see Ruth 3:3) and in other parts of the ancient Near East as well.58 Aaron and his sons participated in a complex ritual of washing, anointing, and clothing in priestly garments that qualified them for temple service. The ritual, outlined in Exodus 29, comprised a multipart ceremony, including: (1) ritual ablutions, or the washing with water (Exodus 29:4); (2) the vesting rite, wherein Aaron was given eight sacred garments (Exodus 29:5–6; the sons of Aaron were also vested); (3) the ceremony with “the anointing oil,” which was first poured upon the recipient’s head and then smeared (Exodus 29:7). The ordination of Aaron, recorded in Leviticus 8, runs along similar lines. First, Moses “washed [Aaron and his sons] with water” (Leviticus 8:6); “He put upon” Aaron the priestly garment (Leviticus 8:7–9); thereafter Moses anointed Aaron after he “took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle” and all of its vessels and appurtenances, including the altar (Leviticus 8:10–11).59

The pseudepigraphic Testament of Levi contains an outstanding example of washing, anointing, and clothing:

And the first man anointed me with holy oil, and gave me a staff of judgment. The second washed me with pure water, fed me with bread and wine, the holiest things, and clad me with a holy and glorious robe. The third clothed me with a linen vestment like an ephod. The fourth put round me a girdle like unto purple. . . . The sixth placed a crown on my head. The seventh placed on my head a priestly diadem and filled my hands with incense, that I might serve as a priest to the Lord God.60

The process of washing, anointing, and clothing in this and other priestly (and nonpriestly) settings is, according to Widengren and Jensen, strongly reminiscent of coronation ceremonies in the ancient Near East.61

In the ancient baptismal ceremonies of the early Christian church, those baptized received an anointing, a white robe, and a ritual meal.62 These garments were “commonly worn for eight days and were metaphorically called the garments of Christ or the mystical garments.”63

Both the heavenly robe and Adam’s garment were seen, in ancient times, to be a sign of honor and a reward for the righteous. In the Targum Onkelos to Genesis we read, “And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of honor (to be worn) upon the skin of their flesh, and He clothed them.”64 In the Dead Sea Scrolls Community Rule, the faithful were to receive “life everlasting, and a crown of glory and a robe of honor, amid light perpetual.”65 In 4 Ezra, Ezra sees in a vision the pious in heaven, and the angel explains that “these are they who have put off mortal clothing and put on the immortal, and they have confessed the name of God; now they are being crowned, and receive palms.”66 In another passage in 4 Ezra, the writer calls for the people Israel to make up their minds about who is righteous and who is not, again using the imagery of the reward of the heavenly garment: “Those who have departed from the shadow of this age have received glorious garments from the Lord. Take again your full number, O Zion, and conclude the list of your people who are clothed in white, who have fulfilled the law of the Lord.”67 A similar picture is portrayed in 1 Enoch, where it also emphasizes the agelessness of the garments: the righteous “shall have been clothed with garments of glory, and these shall be the garments of life from the Lord of Spirits; and your garments shall not grow old.”68 Philo, not uncharacteristically, spiritualizes the garment: “The heavenly garment of light is the garment of the priesthood,”69 and “putting on the garment of light is another way of saying that God reveals the Logos by the light which radiated from it.”70

Jewish sources show how the heavenly garment is held up as a “prize” for the righteous upon their return to the Father. In the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, Isaiah receives a vision in which the Lord says to him, “He who is to be in the corruptible world has not (yet) been revealed, nor the robed, nor the thrones, nor the crowns which are placed (there) for the righteous, for those who believe that Lord who will descend in your form.”71 Isaiah is later told by the Lord that “the holy Isaiah is permitted to come up here, for his robe is here.”72 Strikingly, the process is reversed when Isaiah returns to the earth: “And you shall return into your robe until your days are complete; then you shall come here.”73

In the Christian tradition, the garment, besides being a symbol of the paradisiacal robes of Adam and Eve, is connected with the glory of the martyrs and the resurrection of the body. Tertullian, commenting on Revelation 7:13–14, writes: “We find in scripture an allusion to garments as being the symbol of the hope of the flesh . . . this symbolism also furnishes us with an argument for bodily resurrection.”74 Further, the heavenly garment itself plays an important role as a reward for the righteous upon their death: “It was a widespread belief in Christian Antiquity that the dead who went forth to eternal life were clothed with a white garment.”75 In his message to the church at Sardis, John writes, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” (Revelation 3:5). Under the altar John also saw the souls of those who were killed for the word of God, and he saw that “white robes were given unto every one of them” (Revelation 6:9, 11). In a vision of the heavens, he saw “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” standing “before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). Describing a vision of heaven, Perpetua says in the early Christian Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas: “And I went up, and saw a vast expanse of garden, and in the midst a man sitting with white hair, in the dress of a shepherd, a tall man, milking sheep; and round about were many thousand clad in white.”76

In both the Jewish and Christian traditions are accounts of righteous souls borne to heaven on, or wrapped in, sacred vestments. According to the Testament of Abraham, immediately after Abraham’s death, “Michael the archangel stood beside him with multitudes of angels, and they bore his precious soul in their hands in divinely woven linen.”77 In the Apocalypse of Moses, after Adam sinned he immediately knew that he was deprived of the righteousness with which he had been clothed.78 When near death, however, Adam received the assurance that God would not forget him. After he died, his spirit was taken to the third heaven, while his body was covered with three linen cloths brought by angels from the third heaven.79 In the early Christian Narrative of Zosimus, the angels “rejoice at the spotless soul coming forth, and unfold their garments to receive it.”80 In the Coptic Life of Pachomius we read that at the point of death, an angel wraps the soul in a large spiritual garment and two angels bear him to heaven, one holding the ends of the garment behind, the other holding the ends of the garment in front of the soul.81 Strikingly, in one of these accounts—the Encomium of Eustathius—the phrase “garment of light” is used to describe the robe in which the soul of the righteous departed is carried to heaven: “We saw [Michael] standing and spreading out his garment of light to invite the soul of that blessed woman.”82 Even the angels are sometimes described as being clad in white. Enoch describes the “sons of the holy angels walking upon the flame of fire; their garments were white—and their overcoats—and the light of their faces was like snow.”83

Just as the garment of Adam is associated with the priestly garb, so the priest’s garment can be seen as a type of the heavenly garment that the pious are to receive as a reward in the afterlife. 3 Enoch has possibly the best example of the parallels between the rewards of the righteous and the clothing of the high priest:

Out of the love which he had for me, more than for all the denizens of the heights, the Holy One, blessed be he, fashioned for me a majestic robe, in which all kinds of luminaries were set, and he clothed me in it. He fashioned for me a glorious cloak in which brightness, brilliance, splendor, and luster of every kind were fixed, and he wrapped me in it. He fashioned for me a kingly crown in which 49 refulgent stones were placed each like the sun’s orb, and its brilliance shone into the four quarters of the heaven of Arabot, into the seven heavens, and into the four quarters of the world. He set it upon my head and he called me, “The lesser YHWH” in the presence of his whole household of the height, as it is written, My name is in him.84

Note here that the Lord clothes Enoch with a robe covered by precious stones, like the high priest’s robe, and then places a kingly crown upon his head and calls Enoch “The lesser YHWH,” in effect crowning him to become a vassal king. In a previous chapter we also find:

The Holy One, blessed be he, made for me a throne like the throne of glory, and he spread over it a coverlet of splendor, brilliance, brightness, beauty, loveliness, and grace, like the coverlet of the throne of glory, in which all the varied splendor of the luminaries that are in the world is set. He placed it at the door of the seventh heaven and sat me down upon it.85

Just as the garments of the priest are made “after the pattern” of the garment of God, we see here the throne being after the pattern of the throne of the Lord. In the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, for example, we find that “above all the heavens and their angels is placed your throne, and also your robes and your crown which you are to see.”86

At the same time, the high priest’s garment is “after the pattern of the holy garment of the Lord.” The garment of the high priest was seen as being identical to those of the Lord. Exodus Rabbah says, “For this reason did God give unto him [the high priest] a garment after the pattern of the holy garment [of the Lord].”87 The History of the Rechabites holds that the primary duty of angels who come to meet the soul immediately after death is to tell the soul that the Lord wants the soul to come to him immediately, after which they give the soul its garment.

As the bride rejoices over her betrothed bridegroom, so the soul rejoices at the good news of holy angels. For they (the angels) say to it nothing except this alone: “O pure soul, your Lord is calling you to come to him.” Then the soul with great rejoicing leaves the body to meet the angel. And seeing that pure soul, which has (just) left the body, all the holy angels unfold (for it) their shining stoles. And they receive it with joy, saying, “Blessed are you, O pure soul, the blest; for you have thoroughly done the will of God your Lord.”88


In summary, the source of our knowledge of the garment of Adam is Genesis. But where the account in Genesis is strikingly spare, later Jewish and Muslim traditions are unswerving in describing its sacredness: it was divinely bestowed; it was originally a garment of skin; the skin itself may have been of some extraordinary origin such as Leviathan; it was a primordial creation, created on Friday evening; its celestial origins justify its use as priestly garb; its sacred nature and force as a symbol of authority was recognized by others who could either use or abuse them (Nimrod is a prime example of this); and the garment of Adam is seen as the type of the heavenly garb that would be acquired by the righteous.

These traditions show Adam, the first man, “in communion with God and clothed with righteousness, glory, and honor.”89 But Adam—and, by extension, all mankind—had “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV).90 The vestments given to Adam symbolize the dignity of fallen man and the possibility of restoring to him the glory of God that he had originally enjoyed.91 Just as the old spiritual says, “All God’s chillun got robes” as a sign of reward and honor, those who fear God will receive a share of his glory.92

1. I wish to thank F. V. Greifenhagen, Hugh W. Nibley, Arthur Pollard, and Darell D. Thorpe for sharing with me unpublished work they have done on the subject of the garment of Adam. It has proven immensely useful to me in the preparation of this paper.

2. While in the text of this essay I shall focus on the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, in the footnotes I shall allow myself to range somewhat more widely, exploring the motif of sacred garments in other ancient traditions as well.

3. Philo, in Quaestiones in Genesim I, 53, says that “the coat of skin simply means the human body,” an idea shared by some rabbis since the Hebrew word côr may either have the sense “skin of an animal” or “human skin”; cf. J. Harris, Odes of Solomon (Cambridge: University Press, 1911), 66–70, and J. M. Evans, Paradise Lost and the Genesis Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 70, 84–85, where he refers to this notion as “semi-Gnostic.” According to Jonathan Z. Smith, “The Garments of Shame,” in Map Is Not Territory (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 16–17, “before their expulsion from Eden, Adam and Eve had bodies or garments of light, but that after the expulsion, they received bodies of flesh or a covering of skin.” On this there is a “similar tradition regarding the bodies of light and skin in Samaritan, Christian, and Gnostic sources”; Irenaeus, Refutatio Omnium Heresium, I, 5, 5, in PG, 7:500–501; according to Tertullian, Adversus Valentinianos 24, in PL, 2:614, this is a Valentinian idea (the same is suggested in Tertullian, De Resurrectione Carnis 7, in PL, 2:849, where he also explains that this cannot be correct since, from the creation of Eve from himself, Adam had been aware of his flesh). Perhaps basing his statement on Philo, Origen, in Contra Celsum IV, 40, in PG, 11:1093, says that “They received garments of skin at the time of the fall,” which Louis Ginzberg, in LJ, 5:103, understands to be “bodies, since before the fall they were spiritual beings.” The notion of the garment as a “splendid robe” is also to be found in early Christianity, The Pearl 9: “And they took off from me the spendid robe/Which in their love they had wrought for me,” in Edgar Hennecke and Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, tr. R. M. Wilson, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965), 2:498.

4. Genesis Rabbah 18:6 on Genesis 2:25; cf. S. David Garber, “Symbolism of Heavenly Robes in the New Testament in Comparison with Gnostic Thought,” Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1974, 48.

5. Genesis Rabbah 20:12 on Genesis 3:21; cf. Smith, “The Garments of Shame,” 16–17. According to Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 14 and Genesis Rabbah 196, when Eve partook of the fruit, “her glorious outer skin, a sheet of light smooth as a fingernail, had fallen away.” Similarly, Samael, according to 3 Baruch 9:7, took the form of a serpent “as a garment” in order to deceive Adam. When God cursed the serpent, he caused it to lose its skin every year, even as Adam lost his skin of light when he became naked; cf. Micha Joseph bin Gorion, Die Sagen der Juden, 5 vols. (Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening, 1913–27), 1:96.

6. This section of the Rasā’il Ikhwān al-Ṣafā can be found in Friedrich Dieterici, Thier und Mensch vor dem König der Genien (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1879), 97; English translation in The Case of the Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn, tr. Lenn E. Goodman (Boston: Twayne, 1978), 161.

7. Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 20 on Genesis 3:21.

8. See LJ, 5:103.

9. 3 Baruch (Greek) 9:7; in the Slavonic version of the same verse, it reads “he covered himself with the serpent.”

10. See bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 1:96.

11. Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 10 on Genesis 3:10.

12. See bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 1:290–91.

13. Odes of Solomon 25:8; cf. 11:9–10, 13:2, 20:7, 21:2, 33:10; Gospel of Truth 20:30–34.

14. Cited in Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, 51.

15. Gregory of Nyssa, De Oratione Dominica, Oratio 5, in PG, 44:1184 B.C.; Refutatio Omnium Heresium III, 23, 5, in PG, 7:963–64. In the Armenian Book of Adam 28–29, in Erwin Preuschen, Die apokryphischen gnostischen Adamschriften (Giessen: Ricker, 1900), 52–53, cited in Robert Graves and Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 77–78, Adam responded to Eve’s transformation by saying, “‘Eve, I would rather die than outlive you. If Death were to claim your spirit, God could never console me with another woman equaling your loveliness!’ So saying, he tasted the fruit, and the outer skin of light fell away from him also.” The same tradition is also to be found among the Samaritans; cf. John MacDonald, The Theology of the Samaritans (London: SCM, 1964), 138.

16. Garments of white linen are already prescribed for the priests in ancient Israel (see Exodus 39:27); the twenty-four elders in the Revelation of John who celebrate the heavenly rites are clothed in white (see Revelation 4:1) as are the martyrs who have triumphed over Satan (see Revelation 3:5, 18). Hugh Nibley points out in The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 247, that “the classic robe of the initiate throughout the East has always been and still is the pure white (Plutarch, de Isid., 77) wrap thrown over the shoulder, which also represents an embrace; . . . everything should be white.” The white color of the garment is also mentioned by Gregory of Nyssa, De Vita Moysis, in PG, 44:409B; In Canticum Canticorum, Homilia 1, in PG, 44:764D, Homilia 11, in PG, 44:1005B-D; De Oratione Dominica, Orationes 2 and 5, in PG, 46:600; Theodore of Mopsuestia, On Baptism 4, A. Mingana, ed. (Cambridge: University Press, 1933), 68, 202; Paulus Warnfridus, De Gestis Lungobardorum VI, 15; Venantius Fortunatus, sixth-century bishop of Poitiers, in one of his poems, cited in Cote, Archaeology of Baptism, 54; see also Proclus, Codex Sinaiticus Graecus 491, f. 138 v-139, cited in Thomas M. Finn, The Liturgy of Baptism in the Baptismal Instructions of St. John Chrysostom (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1967), 189, 191, where the phrase is lamprón tó ésthēta, “the shining garment”; W. Burghardt, “Cyril of Alexandria on ‘Wool and Linen,'” Traditio 2 (1944): 484–86; Jean Daniélou, The Bible and the Liturgy (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1956), 50–51; John Edward Farrell, “The Garment of Immortality: A Concept and Symbol in Christian Baptism,” S.T.D. thesis, Catholic University of America, 1974, 227–81; Finn, The Liturgy of Baptism, 191–97; Leonel Mitchell, Baptismal Anointing (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 41, 75, 98, 127, 129, 178; J. Ohleyer, The Pauline Formula ‘Induere Christum’: With Special Reference to the Works of St. John Chrysostom (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 1921), 33–52; Johannes Quasten, “A Pythagorean Idea in St. Jerome,” American Journal of Philology 63 (1942): 206–15; Leo Spitzer, “Additional Note on ‘Wool and Linen’ in Jerome,” American Journal of Philology 64 (1943): 98–99, who cites a passage from Augustine to further corroborate Quasten’s point and stresses the contrast between the interior and exterior.

White garments were also regularly employed in the worship of the heavenly deities—indeed, on ceremonial occasions generally—among the Romans; cf. Cicero, De Legibus II, 45; Horace, Satirae II, 2, 60–61; Ovid, Amores II, 13, 23; Fasti II, 654; IV, 619–20; Metamorphoses X, 431–35; Tristia III, 13, 13–14; V, 5, 7–8; Persius II, 39–40; Servius, Commentarius in Aeneidem X, 539; Tibullus II, 1, 16; Propertius IV, 6, 71. Similarly, white garments are used in ancient Greece; see Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon 77; Quintus Curtius Rufus, Historia Alexandri IV, 15, 27; and in the cult of the Syrian goddess; cf. Lucian, De Syria Dea 42; Apuleius, Metamorphoses VIII, 27. For modern discussions, see Mary Emma Armstrong, The Significance of Certain Colors in Roman Ritual (Menasha, WI: Banta, 1917), 35; Hans Berkusky, “Zur Symbolik der Farben,” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde 23 (1913): 153–63; Karl Mayer, Die Bedeutung der weissen Farbe im Kultus der Griechen und Römer (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1927), 19–28; Julius von Negelein, “Die volkstümliche Bedeutung der weissen Farbe,” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 33 (1901): 53–85; Gerhard Radke, Die Bedeutung der weißen und der schwarzen Farbe in Kult und Brauch der Griechen und Römer (Jena: Neuenhahn, 1936), 58–63. There is also substantial archaeological evidence for white baptismal robes; cf. Marion Ireland, Textile Art in the Church (Nashville: Abingdon, 1971), 73.

17. As Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians (Waco: Word Books, 1990), 156, notes, the Greek verb enduō “with a personal object means to take on the characteristics, virtues, and/or intentions of the one referred to, and so to become like that person.” Thus, in this instance, the phrase means “you took on yourselves Christ’s characteristics, virtues, and intentions, and so became like him,” a phrase that may have been “suggested to early Christian by baptismal candidates divesting themselves of clothing before baptism and then being reclothed afterwards”; cf. G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1963), 148–49; James D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (London: SCM, 1970), 110; C. F. D. Moule, Worship in the New Testament (London: Lutterworth, 1961), 52–53. E. C. Ratcliff, “The Relation of Confirmation to Baptism in the Early Roman and Byzantine Liturgies—I,” Theology 49 (1946): 263, states further that Galatians 3:27 probably “refers to the clothing of the company of the baptized with white robes”; see also Tertullian, De Baptismo 13, in PL, 1:1323.

18. See Erik Peterson, Pour une théologie du vêtement, trans. M.-J. Congar (Lyon: Edition de l’Abeille, 1943), 6–13. Various iconographic sources of the baptismal garment are to be found in Hanns Swarzenski, Monuments of Romanesque Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), pl. 20, fig. 45; pl. 173, figs. 380 and 381. Roger Adams, “The Iconography of Early Christian Initiation: Evidence for Baptism for the Dead,” unpublished Final Project Report, Third Annual Commissioner’s Research Fellowship, Church Educational System, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977, 51, is not reflecting the full range of the early Christian tradition when he states that “the garment that will be placed upon the catechumen at baptism is equated to the garment of skin placed upon Adam at the time of the fall.” The range of symbolic and mystagogical meanings given to the garment is very wide, including “a symbol of union with the risen Christ,” “a symbol for purity of life,” “a symbol of forgiveness of sins”; see Hugh M. Riley, Christian Initiation: A Comparative Study of the Interpretation of the Baptismal Liturgy in the Mystagogical Writings of Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Ambrose of Milan (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1974), 413–55, esp. 413–15.

19. De Oratione Dominica, Oratio 5, in PG, 44:1184 B-C.

20. In Jewish tradition, the fig tree is frequently associated with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Genesis Rabbah 15:7, cf. TB Berakhot 40a; TB Sanhedrin 70a-b; Rashi, On Genesis III, 7, and see J. M. Evans, Paradise Lost and the Genesis Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 45–46. In The Book of the Bee, tr. E. A. Wallis Budge (Oxford: Clarendon, 1886), 23, the garments that Adam and Eve were clothed in after their transgression was neither the skin of animals (since they only came in pairs), nor their own flesh, but the “skin of trees,” i.e., their bark. In the view of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Fragmenta in Genesim 3:22, in PG, 66:641, however, the garments of skin given to Adam and Eve were not the skins of animals, since there was no sacrifice at that time, nor were they created ex nihilo, hence “they must have been made of the skin or inner bark of trees.”

21. Gregory of Nyssa, In Baptismum Christi, in PG, 46:600A; cf. Gregory’s statement about the father of the Prodigal Son clothing him with a robe: “not with some other garment, but with the first, that of which he was stripped by his disobedience” (De Oratione Dominica, in PG, 44:1144 B; In Canticum Canticorum, Homilia 11, in PG, 44:1005 D); see also Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, 50–5l.

22. See Finn, Liturgy of Baptism, 147–49; Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, 39–40, who cites Cyril of Jerusalem, in PG, 33:1080A: “How wonderful! You were naked before the eyes of all without feeling any shame. This is because you truly carry within you the image of the first Adam, who was naked in Paradise without feeling any shame”; cf. Theodore of Mopsuestia, On Baptism XIV, 8, in Mingana, ed., Commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia, 54; Gregory of Nyssa, De Virginitate 12, in PG, 46:374D; In Baptismum Christi, in PG, 46:600A; John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions XI, 28–29; Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition XXI, 3; Didascalia Apostolorum 16; Germanus, Oratio 2 in Dominici Corporis Sepulturam, in PG, 98:289. Margaret R. Miles, Carnal Knowing: Female Nakedness and Religious Meaning in the Christian West (Boston: Beacon, 1989), 24–52, esp. 35–36, provides a number of other meanings for baptismal nakedness in the orthodox and heterodox traditions, including “stripping off the ‘old man with his deeds,'” “imitation of Christ,” “leaving the world,” “death and rebirth,” “new life,” “quasi-martyrdom,” and “bridal chamber.” Cultic nakedness is well attested in the ancient world (cf. Smith, “Garments of Shame,” 2–6). Eckstein, “nackt, Nacktheit,” in E. Hoffmann-Krayer and Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli, ed., Hand-wörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, 10 vols. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1927), 5:823–916, provides an excellent introduction to the topic of nakedness in religion and folklore; see also Gustav Anrich, Das antike Mysterienwesen in seinem Einfluss auf das Christentum (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1894), 200–205; E. A. S. Butterworth, The Tree at the Navel of the Earth (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1970), 71–78; Farrell, “Garment of Immortality,” 60–127; J. Heckenbach, De Nuditate Sacra Sacrisque Vinculis (Gießen: Topelmann, 1911), 8–34; Heuser, “Nacktheit,” F. X. Kraus, ed., Real-Encyklopädie der christlichen Altertümer, 2 vols. (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1886), 2:465–67; Hans Leisegang, “The Mystery of the Serpent,” in The Mysteries, ed. Joseph Campbell (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 236–41; Walter A. Müller, Nacktheit und Entblößung in der altorientalischen und älteren griechischen Kunst (Leipzig: Teubner, 1906); Peter Nagel, Die Motivierung der Askese in der alten Kirche und der Ursprung des Mönchtums (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1966), 91–94; Friedrich Pfister, “Nacktheit,” in Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. Georg Wissowa (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1935), 16:1541–49; Karl Weinhold, Zur Geschichte des heidnischen Ritus, in Abhandlungen der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin (1896), 1:1–50.

23. Cf. Quasten, “A Pythagorean Idea in St. Jerome,” 212, who observes that “the garment of linen is the garment of immortality according to religious and philosophic considerations of antiquity. There is one line going from Jerome to Apuleius, Plutarch, and Herodotus.” Burghardt, “Cyril of Alexandria on ‘Wool and Linen,'” 485, sees in Cyril of Alexandria’s De Adoratione et Cultu in Spiritu et Veritate XI, 390, in PG, 68:749, a melding of an ancient Pythagorean principle with a Neo-Platonist, spiritualizing one: “With the Pythagoreans Cyril enunciates the general principle that wool is the symbol of death, since its origin is an animal destined to die. The implication is, of course, that the contrasted linen is a symbol of life and immortality. With the Neo-Platonists he refines the general principle, so as to see in the garments of wool dead works, that is, the works of passion and sin that bring spiritual death. To don garments of linen, therefore, is to renounce the works that lead to spiritual death, and by implication, to embrace those that lead to life and immortality. The new element is the interpretation that sees in the coolness of linen the chilling of passion”; see also Philip Oppenheim, Das Mönchskleid im christlichen Altertum (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1931), 57–65, on linen and wool garments.

24. Jerome, Epistle LXIV, 19, in PL, 22:613.

25. In the Christian tradition, the white garment of the baptizand, besides being a symbol of the paradisiacal robes of Adam and Eve, is connected with the glory of the martyrs and the resurrection of the body; see below.

26. See Finn, Liturgy of Baptism, 146–49; Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, 39–40, who cites Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis XX. Mystagogica II. De Baptismi Caeremoniis, in PG, 33:1080A: “How wonderful! You were naked before the eyes of all without feeling any shame. This is because you truly carry within you the image of the first Adam, who was naked in Paradise without feeling any shame”; cf. Thedore of Mopsuestia, On Baptism XIV, 8, in Commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia, ed. Mingana, 54; Gregory of Nyssa, De Virginitate 12, in PG, 46:374D; In Baptismum Christi, in PG, 46:600A; Adams, “Iconography of Early Christian Initiation,” 51, where he cites Jean Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, 13, on Theodore’s commentary on baptism. In a ritual described in the Gnostic 2 Jeu 47, Christ performs a ritual in which “all his disciples were clothed in linen garment and crowned with myrtle.”

27. See Genesis Rabbah 18:6 on Genesis 2:25.

28. See Genesis Rabbah 19:6 on Genesis 3:7. The fourth-century Church Father Hilary gave an allegorizing turn to the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree, which he said was the same tree as that from which Adam made his clothes, “for which reason the branch of the fig tree is the Antichrist, while its blossoms that blossom in the summertime signify sin” (Commentarius in Matthaeum 26, in PL, 9:1056–57).

29. Cf. Yves Marquet, La philosophie des Iḫwān al-Ṣafā‘ (Algiers: Etudes et Documents, 1973), 217.

30. See Al-Thaclabī, Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiyā (Cairo: Mustafā al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī wa-Awlāduhu, A.H. 1345), 21.

31. Jubilees 3:26–27, 31; cf. 7:20.

32. Erwin Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, 13 vols. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1953–68), 1:28.

33. The garment as a sign of authority is found in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip 57, which says, “In this world those who put on the garment are better than the garment. In the kingdom of heaven the garments are better than those who have put them on.” This may mean that the garment of the person in heaven have more power than the person alone. We find an even more convincing passage in Pistis Sophia 1:9, where Jesus is given authority immediately after (or through) his putting on his garment after his death: “It happened now when Jesus finished these words to his disciples, He continued again with the discourse, and he said to them, ‘Behold, I have put on my garment and all authority is given to me through the first mystery.'”

34. See LJ, 5:103. During the Middle Ages the traditions of Adam’s garments of light and his priestly garments were combined in the Yalqut 1:34 in ibid., 5:104: “God made high-priestly garments for Adam which were like those of the angels; but when he sinned, God took them away from him.” According to Garber, “Symbolism of Heavenly Robes,” 50, “This was an attempt to retain ‘skin’ (côr) in Genesis 3:21 without losing the sense of “light” (‘ôr).” Similarly, Zohar 1:36b starts, “at first they had coats of light, which procured them in the service of the highest of the high, for the celestial angels used to come to enjoy that light. . . . After their sins they had only coats of skin good for the body but not for the soul.” Here we see that the garment of skin (temporal) mirrors the garment of light (spiritual). According to Smith, “Garments of Shame,” 16, “before their expulsion from Eden, Adam and Eve had bodies or garments of light, but that after the expulsion, they received bodies of flesh or a covering of skin”; cf. Sverre Aalen, Die Begriffe “Licht” und “Finsternis” im alten Testament, im Spätjudentum und Rabbinismus (Oslo: Dwybad, 1951), 198–99, 265–66, 282–85.

35. Numbers Rabbah 4:8 on Numbers 3:45.

36. See Genesis Rabbah 20:12.

37. Midrash Tanḥuma 1:24.

38. In the Mandaean religion, there is a similar belief that the garment of Adam was inherited by Noah, Das Johannesbuch der Mandäer, ed. and trans. Mark Lidzbarski (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1905–15), 83; see Hans Schoeps, Urgemeinde, Judenchristentum, Gnosis (Tübingen: Mohr, 1956), 53. Cain, it appears, may have had this garment before Seth, but cast it off when he chose to follow evil, Ginzā: Der Schatz oder das große Buch der Mandäer, trans. Mark Lidzbarski (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1925), 128.

39. See bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:370.

40. See LJ, 1:177; bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:19. The supernatural power of the garment can be seen in the Testament of Job 46:7–53:8. The garment protects Job, and enables his daughters to speak in tongues and to proclaim the glory of God when they put it on.

41. See Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 24; cf. LJ, 1:177; M. Sel, “Nimrod,” in The Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 vols. (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1905), 9:309. According to another source, recounted in bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:19–20, Cush loved Nimrod, the child, “and gave him a skin garment, which God had made for Adam as he went out of the Garden of Eden.” From Adam the garment passed by descent to Enoch, Methusaleh, and Noah, from whom Ham stole it as they were coming out of the Ark. Ham gave it to his firstborn Cush, who gave it to Nimrod. Interestingly, according to Jacob of Serug, nimrah means “tiger, “crown,” and “striped garment,” B. Vandenhoff, “Die Götterliste des Mar Jakob von Sarug in seiner Homilie über den Fall der Götzenbilder,” Oriens Christianus 5 (1915): 240–41. According to Jasher 7:29, “Cush was concealed then from his sons and brothers and when Cush had begotten Nimrod, he gave him those garments through his love for him, and Nimrod grew up, and when he was twenty years old he put on those garments, and Nimrod became strong when he put on the garments . . . and he hunted the animals and he built altars, and he offered the animals before the Lord.”

42. Bernhard Beer, Das Leben Abraham’s nach Auffassung der jüdischen Sage (Leipzig: Leiner, 1859), 7.

43. See bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:365–66; cf. Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 24; Jasher 27:7. In the Apocalypse of Abraham 13, the garment is passed on to Abraham: when Satan was rebuked for taunting Adam and Eve after their transgression, God tells him that the garment that had belonged to him in heaven would be given to Abraham.

44. See Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 24.

45. Numbers Rabbah 4:8; cf. bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:371. In other sources, Jacob is said to have stolen the garment from Esau, Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 24. However, as Jasher 26:17 indicates, Esau deserved to lose the garment: “Esau was a designing and a deceitful man, and an expert hunter in the field, and Jacob was a man perfect and wise.” When Nimrod, king of Babel “went to hunt in the field . . . Nimrod was watching Esau all the days, for a jealousy was formed in the heart of Nimrod against Esau” (Jasher 27:2–3). But Esau lay in ambush, cut off Nimrod’s head, and “took the garments of Nimrod . . . with which Nimrod prevailed over the whole land, and he ran and concealed them in his house,” and this was the birthright he sold to Jacob (Jasher 27:7, 10).

46. Bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:371.

47. See Hippolytus, Fragmenta in Genesin 3, in PG, 10:604.

48. See al-Thaclabī, Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiyā, 79.

49. See ibid; according to Marc Philonenko, “Les interpolations chrétiennes des Testaments des Douze Patriarches et les manuscrits de Qoumrân,” Revue d’Histoire et Philosophie Religieuse 39 (1959): 30, the author of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs “places peculiar emphasis on the stealing of Joseph’s garment by his brothers. . . .They envied him because of it—apparently it was the mark of singular superiority.”

50. See Testament of Zebulon 4:11; al-Thaclabī, Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiyā, 80.

51. TB Arakhin 16a.

52. There is considerable discussion on the meaning of this passage, as well as its proper referents. See Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20–48 (Dallas: Word Books, 1990), 89–95; P.-M. Bogaert, “Montaigne sainte, jardin d’Eden et sanctuaire (hiérosolymitain) dans un oracle d’Ezéchiel contre le prince de Tyre (Ez. 28:11–19),” Homo Religiosus 9 (1983): 131–53; N. C. Habel, “Ezekiel 28 and the Fall of the First Man,” Concordia Theological Monthly 38 (1967): 516–24; Herbert May, “The King in the Garden of Eden: A Study of Ezekiel 28:12–19,” in Israel’s Prophetic Heritage, ed. B. W. Anderson and W. Harrelson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 166–76; J. L. McKenzie, “Mythological Allusion in Ezekiel 28:12–28,” Journal of Biblical Literature 75 (1956): 322–27; A. J. Williams, “The Mythological Background of Ezekiel 28:12–19?” Biblical Theology Bulletin 6 (1976): 49–61; Kalman Yaron, “The Dirge over the King of Tyre,” Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute 3 (1964): 28–57; Frederick L. Moriarty, “The Lament over Tyre (Ez. 27),” Gregorianum 46 (1965): 83–88.

53. The High Priest’s robe as a cosmic garment (Weltenmantel) may be seen in the Wisdom of Solomon 18:24: “On Aaron’s long high-priestly robe was the whole world pictured, and the glories of the fathers were upon the graving of the four rows of precious stones and thy Majesty was upon the diadem of his head.” In Ben Sirach 45:6–8, God permitted Aaron to be garbed in the robes of his majesty and glory, since Aaron was “one holy like unto him”; cf. Philo De Vita Mosis II, 117, 122, and see F. H. Colson, “Appendix to De Vita Mosis II,” in Philo, 10 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), 6:609; Philo, De Somniis I, 215, 251; Josephus, Jewish Antiquities III, 7, 7 (184–85). On the cosmic garment in the ancient and medieval world, see Robert Eisler, Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt: Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zur Urgeschichte des antiken Weltbildes, 2 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1910), esp. 1:19, 25.

54. Targum Ezekiel 28:13. According to Jerome, Epistola 64 (ad Fabiolam) in PL, 22:613–15, the garment of the Christian priest is copied after that of the High Priest. Gregory the Great, Epistolae I, 9, 25, in PL, 77:470–71, makes a somewhat similar observation, though he gives it an allegorical interpretation. Eisler, Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt, 1:19, citing Durandus, notes that the “cappa” of the pope was an imitation of the high priest’s tunic.

55. LJ, 5:103. The tradition of celestial garments is also present in Mandaeism and Manichaeism. In the Mandaean The Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans, trans. E. S. Drower (Leiden: Brill, 1959), 30, n. 31, instructions are given concerning Adam: “Let him come and go down to the jordan [sic], be baptised, receive the pure sign, put on robes of radiant light and set a fresh wreath on his head,” which Garber, in “Symbolism of the Heavenly Garments,” 217, suggests may indicate that the baptismal ritual “included being clothed in a baptismal robe to signify the present imperishable soul and the clothing in glory after death” and that “there was investiture with a special white robe after one’s first baptism,” although he also notes Kurt Rudolph’s judgment that “the symbolic style of the liturgical speeches probably means primarily that the baptism itself is the clothing with light and eschatological existence, without any definite indication of an investment following the rite (as in the early Christian Church).” References to garments—the garment of Adam, garments for obedience and protection, heavenly garments, and baptismal robes—are frequent in Mandaean literature (cf. Lidzbarski, Ginza , 13, 96, 128–29, 131, 191–92, 194, 243, 252–53, 259, 263, 348–49, 363, 430–31, 435, 488, 576–77; Lidzbarski, Johannesbuch der Mandäer, 83, 206). E. S. Drower, “ADAMAS—Humankind: ADAM—Mankind,” Theologische Literaturzeitung 86 (1961): 177, notes that the Semitic mānā is “garment, vessel, robe,” i.e., the secrecy of the teaching, and that “it is the head of the Cosmos from which manas originate” for the initiate.

In Manichaeism, Garber notes in “Symbolism of Heavenly Robes,” 223, “the believer longed to put on a shining robe of light.” The Manichaean Psalm of Thomas concerning the Coming of the Soul states that “I await my robe until it comes and clothes him that shall wear it. . . . When therefore my shining robe comes and clothes him that shall wear it; when my pleasant fragrance strips itself of their stink and returns to its place . . . then I will sink their Darkness, . . . uproot their Darkness.” The robe is the enlightening Light, the redemption of the Soul” (ibid., 225). The section “On the Five Elements” in the Manichaean Book of the Giants (from the Book of Enoch), mentions “The crown, the diadem, [the garland, and] the garment (of Light)” (Walter B. Henning, “The Book of the Giants,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 11 [1943–46]: 62). The term nalbaš šame (Himmelskleid) is widely attested with reference to the gods in the literature of the Mesopotamians (Ernst F. Weidner, “Das Himmelskleid,” Archiv für Orientforschung 7 [1931–32]: 115–16). On the use of “golden garments” as sacred vestments for the gods and, in Assyria, as royal vestments, see A. Leo Oppenheim, “The Golden Garments of the Gods,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 8 (1949): 172–93.

56. In an interesting turn on the motif of the heavenly garment, Severus of Antioch, who frequently mentions the garment, believes that clothes will be unnecessary in the celestial realms: “If we crave for and need sensual food in the future painless life, it is then time to desire also clothes made of wool, . . . but it is very certain that the expected life is free from all such things,” Epistle (to Solon) 96, in E. W. Brooks, “A Collection of Letters of Severus of Antioch,” in Patrologia Orientalis, ed. François Graffin (Paris: Firmin-didot, 1920), 14:188. Then he quotes Basil as teaching that when Adam sinned “it was not fitting that he should have clothes; but there were others prepared for man if he displayed virtues, clothes such as by God’s grace glistened . . . shining garments, as of the angels also” (Epistle [to Solon] 96, in ibid., 14:190). He notes the garments of Jesus left behind in the tomb as proof that when we are beyond the need for food and drink we will also be beyond need of clothing (Homily 77, in ibid., 16:820). That the Lord left his clothes behind demonstrates, in his view, that he was like Adam in the Garden, “and that as God, even though clothed upon, it could only be with a most glorious garment of light” (Epistle [to Solon] 96, in ibid., 14:190).

57. Rabbi Akiba and Samuel Aba Horodezky, “Michael und Gabriel,” Monatsschrift für die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 72 (1928): 505.

58. Cf. Ruth 3:3, and see Jack M. Sasson, Ruth: A New Translation with a Philological Commentary and a Formalist-Folklorist Interpretation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 67–68; cf. Joseph and Aseneth 2:4, 3:6, 4:1, 14:12–14, 15:10, 18:5–6; The Assumption: Narrative by Joseph of Arimathaea 5, in ANT, 216; Acts of Andrew (Flamion Text) 121, in ANT, 418. Samuel Greengus, “Old Babylonian Marriage Ceremonies and Rites,” Journal of Cuneiform Studies 20 (1966): 55–72, includes details from cuneiform sources that parallel the biblical passages. Other ceremonies that include washing, anointing, and clothing are unconnected with marriage; cf. the Epic of Gilgamesh II, 3, 14–27, where Enkidu eats breads, drinks wine, anoints himself with oil, and puts on a garment “and is like a man” in Heidel, Gilgamesh, Geo Widengren, “Heavenly Enthronement and Baptism: Studies in Mandaean Baptism,” in Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of Ramsdell Goodenough, ed. Jacob Neusner (Leiden: Brill, 1970), 578, who cites the passage in CT XV, 47:47–48: “Tammuz, the husband of her youth, bathe with pure water, anoint with fine oil, clothe him in a bright red garment!” These three actions, according to Widengren, are “precisely three of the central actions” in the Mandaean massiqtā (baptism) ceremony; see also Kurt Rudolph, Die Mandäer, 2 vols. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1961), 2:105–12, 155–74, 181–88, 262–63, 264–81, for extended discussion of the massiqtā and of washing, anointing, and clothing. Washing, anointing, and clothing is also mentioned in the Odyssey, where new guests at the house of a great lord are washed, anointed, and clothed before joining the banquet table, III, 464–69; IV, 47–51; see John Gee and Daniel C. Peterson, “Graft and Corruption: On Olives and Olive Culture in Pre-Modern Mediterranean,” in The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and F.A.R.M.S., 1994), 244, n. 252.

59. For an important discussion of this topic, see Donald W. Parry, “Ritual Anointing with Olive Oil in Ancient Israelite Religion,” in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, esp. 268–71; Ernst Kutsch, Salbung als Rechtsakt im Alten Testament und im alten Orient (Berlin: Töpelmann, 1963), 22–27.

60. Testament of Levi 8:6–12; cf. 2 Enoch 69:8, 70:4, 70:13, 71:16, 71:21–22. Geo Widengren, “Royal Ideology and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” in Promise and Fulfillment, ed. F. F. Bruce (Edinburgh: Clark, 1965), 204–5; Ludin Jensen, “The Consecration in the Eighth Chapter of Testament Levi,” in La regalità/The Sacral Kingship (Leiden: Brill, 1959), 358–62.

61. See Jensen, “Consecration,” 359; Widengren, “Royal Ideology,” 202–3, 205–12; see also Stephen D. Ricks and John J. Sroka, “King, Coronation, and Temple: Enthronement Ceremonies in History,” in this volume, for an overview of characteristic features of royal coronations. In the view of many in the ancient Near East, it is the receipt of the royal garment (and other insignia of the king) that is both symbol and substance of becoming a king, as Herodotus VII, 15, implies; see also A. Szabo, “Herodotea,” Acta Antiqua 1 (1951): 85.

62. See Edwin O. James, Christian Myth and Ritual (London: Murray, 1937), 103. Baptismal anointings occurred either before or after the baptism; according to Mitchell, Baptismal Anointing, 10–11, the earliest unambiguous witness to baptismal anointing, Tertullian, mentions both pre- and postbaptismal anointing (De Baptismo 7–8, in PL, 1:13; De Corona 3, in PL, 2:98–99); Bernhard Welte, Die postbaptismale Salbung: Ihr symbolischer Gehalt und Ihre sakramentale Zugehörigkeit nach den Zeugnissen der alten Kirche (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1939), 22–41.

63. Cote, Archaeology of Baptism, also states:

That Sunday folowing [the baptismal day] was called dominica in albis depositis, because those who had been baptized took off their white robes, which were laid by in the church as evidence against them if they broke their baptismal vows. Whitsunday (White Sunday), the English name for Pentecost, is supposed to have been so called from the white garments worn by the newly-baptized catechumens when it was the custom to administer that ordinance on the Vigil of Pentecost. The white garment was made to fit the body rightly, and was bound round the middle with a girdle sash. The sleeves were either plain, like those of a cassock, or else full, and gathered close on the wrists, like the sleeve of a shirt, resembling the tunic worn by the ancients.

With this may be compared Geoffrey Wainwright, “Images of Baptism,” Reformed Liturgy & Music 19 (1985): 173, who also observes that “christening gowns” may represent a Protestant relic of the old practice of receiving garments at the time of baptism; cf. also Henry John Feasey, Old English Holy Week Ceremonial (London: Baker, 1897), 239–40; Hugh W. Nibley, “Evangelium Quadraginta Dierum: The Forty-day Mission of Christ—The Forgotten Legacy,” in Mormonism and Early Christianity, in CWHN, 4:17, 37–39.

64. Targum Onkelos to Genesis 3:21; cf. Apocalypse of Elijah 5:6; Testament of Levi 18:14; Vision of Isaiah 9:17, 24–26; Book of John the Evangelist, in ANT, 189, 193; Acts of Andrew (Flamion Text) 142–44, in ANT, 450.

65. See Community Rule (1QS) 4:9; cf. 4Q161: “God will uphold him with [the spirit of might, and will give him] a throne of glory and a crown of [holiness] and many-colored garments.” Josephus, in Jewish Wars II, 123, states that the Essenes (probably to be connected with the Dead Sea Scrolls, or at least some of them) make a point of always being dressed in white. In Jewish Wars II, 137, Josephus observes that a white garment is one of three items (along with a hatchet and loincloth) given to the candidate upon entering the community at Qumran. Todd S. Beall, Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 46, suggests that 1QM (War Scroll) 7:9–10 may indicate a preference for white at Qumran: “seven priests of the sons of Aaron, clothed in garments of fine white linen: a linen tunic and linen trousers, and girded with a linen girdle”; cf. Yigael Yadin, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), 219; Goodenough, Jewish Symbols, 9:168–69. Perhaps on the basis of the latter statement by Josephus that Jean Daniélou observes, in The Dead Sea Scrolls and Primitive Christianity (Baltimore: Helicon, 1958), 42, that “the practice of dressing the newly baptized in a white robe inevitably recalls the description in Josephus of the white garments worn by those who were newly admitted to the Essenian community”; cf. Beall, Josephus’ Description of the Essenes, 155.

66. 4 Ezra 2:44–45.

67. Ibid., 2:39–40.

68. 1 Enoch 62:16.

69. Philo, De Fuga 110. On the spiritualization of religious values, see Robert J. Daly, The Origins of the Christian Doctrine of Sacrifice (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978), 6–8, who notes that the word spiritualization needs to be understood in a larger sense than simply “antimaterialistic,” including “those movements and tendencies within Judaism and Christianity” that attempted to emphasize “the inner, spiritual, or ethical significance of the cult over against the merely material” aspects of it; see also David Dawson, Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992); Han-Jürgen Hermisson, Sprache und Ritus im altisraelitischen Kult: “Zur ‘Spiritualisierung’ der Kultbegriffe im Alten Testament” (Neukirchen-Vluyn; Neukirchener-Verlag, 1965); Daniel R. Schwartz, “Priesthoood, Temple, Sacrifices: Opposition and Spiritualization in the Late Second Temple Period,” Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1979, 191–92; H. Wenschkewitz, “Die Spiritualisierung der Kultusbegriffe: Tempel, Priester, und Opfer im Neuen Testament,” Angelos 4 (1932): 70–230.

70. Alexander Altmann, “A Note on the Rabbinic Doctrine of Creation,” Journal of Jewish Studies 7 (1956): 201–2.

71. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 8:26; cf. 1:6; 4:16–17; 8:14; 9:2, 9–11, 17–18, 24–26; 11:40; in 3:25 we read: “And many will exchange the glory of the robes of the saints for the robes of those who love money,” where Michael A. Knibb, translator and editor of the Martyrdom in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols., ed. James H. Charlesworth (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985), 2:161, says that this is “perhaps an indication that Christians adopted a special form of dress.”

72. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 9:2; cf. 9:17, 24–26; 11:40. In other instances, the garment of glory is given to one on a heavenly journey; cf. 2 Enoch 22:8: “And the LORD said to Michael, ‘Go, and extract Enoch from [his] earthly clothing. And anoint him with my delightful oil, and put him into the clothes of my glory'”; cf. Geo Widengren, “Royal Ideology,” 210–11. The exchange of earthly for heavenly garments may be reflected in Paul’s belief that the body of the resurrection is a glorified body that is put on, see 2 Corinthians 5:1–5; 1 Corinthians 15:35–44; see also Acts of Thomas 6–7, 146, in ANT, 367–68, 428–29.

73. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 11:35.

74. Tertullian, De Resurrectione Carnis 27, in PL, 2:834A-B; cf. Apocalypse of Peter (Ethiopic Text), in ANT, 520; Papyrus Bodmer X, 55:8, where the resurrection is compared with being clothed again; see also Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, 52–53. Carl Clemen, Primitive Christianity and Its Non-Jewish Sources (Edinburgh: Clark, 1912), 173–74, suggests Zoroastrian beliefs in the afterlife, including the righteous receiving heavenly garments (see Bundahishn 30:28), as a possible source for Christian and Jewish beliefs. James Moulton, Early Zoroastrianism (London: Williams and Norgate, 1913), 315, is more cautious on this point. On the other hand, there is no question of a bodily resurrection and the receipt of a heavenly robe in Zoroastrian tradition (see Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985], 27–28; Jal Cersetji Pavry, The Zoroastrian Doctrine of a Future Life from Death to the Individual Judgment [New York: Columbia University Press, 1929]). There is also an important Zoroastrian tradition of the sudra, the sacred garment (a muslin shirt with sleeves reaching to the hips), with a small pocket (“the pocket of good deeds”), and a sacred cord, the kustī, first assumed by Zoroastrian men and women no later than their fifteenth year and thereafter worn at all times. A man or woman who, “being more than fifteen years of age, walks without wearing the sacred girdle and the sacred shirt” was deemed the greatest of sinners. Those who did not wear the sacred shirt and cord were to be refused water and bread by other community members (see James Darmsteter, The Zend-Avesta: The Vendîdâd [Oxford: Clarendon, 1895], 195, 204; Boyce, Zoroastrianism, 31–33; Jivani J. Modi, The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees [New York: Garland, 1979], 178–96).

75. Alfred C. Rush, Death and Burial in Christian Antiquity (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 1941), 217; see also Emil Freistedt, Altchristliche Totengedächtnistage und Ihre Beziehung zum Jenseitsglauben und Totenkultus der Antike (Münster: Aschendorff, 1928), 64–65. Rudolf Bultmann, “Die Bedeutung der neuerschlossenen mandäischen und manichäischen Quellen für das Verständnis des Johannesevangeliums,” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft 24 (1925): 120, stresses the notion of earthly and heavenly garments in the early Christian tradition.

76. The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas IV, 8; see Rush, Death and Burial, 217.

77. Testament of Abraham 20:10 (Rescension A); cf. Kaufmann Kohler, “The Pre-Talmudic Haggada II,” Jewish Quarterly Review 7 (1895): 589–91; Apocalypse of Moses 37:4; Life of Adam and Eve 48:1–4; Apocalypse of Thomas, in ANT, 561.

78. See Apocalypse of Moses 20:1.

79. Ibid., 31:4, 37:1–6, 40:1–3; cf. Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi I, 28.

80. Narrative of Zosimus 13, cited in Wilhelm Lueken, Michael: Eine Darstellung und Vergleichung der jüdischen und der morgenländisch-christlichen Tradition vom Erzengel Michael (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1898), 123.

81. See Monument pour servir à l’histoire de l’Égypte chrétienne au IVe siècle: Historie de Saint Pakhôme et de ses communautés, ed. and tr. E. Amélineau (Paris: Leroux, 1889), 122–23; cf. Apocalypse of Thomas, in ANT, 561.

82. E. A. Wallis Budge, St. Michael the Archangel: Three Encomiums by Theodosius, Archbishop of Alexandria, Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, and Eustathius, Bishop of Trake (London: Trench, Paul, and Trübner, 1894), 128 (Coptic Text), 102 (translation). A similar account is given in E. Amélineau, Contes et romans de l’Égypte chrétienne (Paris: Leroux, 1888), 1:6, where Michael appeared to an entire multitude and showed them the royal garment in which he received “the two pure souls”; cf. The Book of the Resurrection of Christ by Bartholomew the Apostle, in ANT, 185; History of Joseph the Carpenter 23, where, however, the soul is placed in a “silken napkin.” In a sepulchral monument in Ely Cathedral is a depiction of Michael bearing a soul toward heaven in the fold of his garments, depicted in J. Romilly Allen, Early Christian Symbolism in Great Britain and Ireland before the Thirteenth Century (London: Whiting, 1887), 272, fig. 96; cf. also the twelfth-century Shaftesbury Psalter, in F. E. Halliday, An Illustrated History of England (New York: Viking, 1967), where there is a depiction of souls riding up towards heaven on a garment in the hands of the archangel Michael.

83. 1 Enoch 71:1; cf. 71:10; 2 Enoch [J] 37:1; Apocalypse of Zephaniah 8:3; Severus of Antioch, Epistle (to Solon) 96, in Patrologia Orientalis, 14:190; Report of Pilate (Anaphora), in ANT, 154; The Assumption: Latin Narrative of Pseudo-Melito 3, in ANT, 210; in Apocalypse of Peter (Akhmim Text), in ANT, 518; in 3 Enoch 28:7, the “Holy One” is described as having a garment “white like snow”; The Vercelli Acts of Peter 16, in ANT, 318, “Peter . . . beheld Jesus clad in a vesture of brightness”; Goodenough, Jewish Symbols, 9:169.

84. 3 Enoch 12:13.

85. Ibid., 10:1–2.

86. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 7:22.

87. Exodus Rabbah 38:8.

88. History of the Rechabites 14:3–5.

89. Garber, “Symbolism of Heavenly Robe,” 51; cf. Edgar Haulotte, Symbolique du vêtement selon la Bible (Lyon: Aubier, 1966), 186.

90. Cf. Robin Scroggs, The Last Adam (Oxford: Blackwell, 1966), 26, 48–49, for a discussion of this verse. In the Apocalypse of Moses 21:6, Adam accuses Eve, “You have deprived me of the glory of God.”

91. Cf. Apocalypse of Moses 39:2; 1 Enoch 50:1; 4 Ezra 7:122–25; 2 Apocalypse of Baruch 51:1, 3; 54:15, 21; 1QS 4:23; CD 3:20; 17:15; see also Scroggs, Last Adam, 26–27, 54–56, and Haulotte, Symbolique, 188.

92. See Garber, “Symbolism of Heavenly Robe,” 51–52.