According to the Bible, when God expelled Adam and Eve, wrapped in fig leaves, from the Garden of Eden he made them clothes from animal skin. The midrashic collection known as Genesis Rabbah, probably compiled in the 5th or 6th century, says that in Rabbi Meir’s Torah it did not say they were clothes of skin, but clothes of light. The Hebrew words for clothes and light differ by only one letter, and are pronounced almost identically.
Leaving aside the question of the authenticity of the biblical text (and this is not the only occasion when the 2nd century Rabbi Meir seems to have had a different version of the Torah), the suggestion that Adam and Eve may have had ethereal clothes made of light, rather than ordinary animal skins, connects this Midrash to a legend, now mostly lost, which casts Adam and Eve in a very different light. Continue reading