King James Bible and the Shame of Nakedness

“And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? Let him come unto me” (Exod 32:25).

When Adam and Eve were created they were given freedom to do whatever they wanted to because they were without sin.  But when they listened to the serpent questioning and then denying God’s good motives, and to his lies that they would become as gods if only they would disobey God and eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, they both ate.  And immediately their eyes were opened their first reaction to their enlightenment, was shame.  “….they knew that they were naked” (Gen 3:7); and they immediately took action and clothed themselves as best they could.  They hid their nakedness from each other and, what was much worse, “they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD….” (Gen 3:8).

When Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, which had been carved in stone tablets by the very hand of God, the people of Israel on the plain below were worshipping a golden calf – bulls were noted and praised for their sexual stamina and were symbols of fertility – and were naked!  When Moses saw what they were doing – and the nakedness is mentioned (and, by inference, condemned) twice – he was furious at this blasphemous behaviour, an affront to Yahweh, the living and true God; and he cast down the tablets upon which were carved the Ten Commandments, and they were smashed to pieces.  So offended was God that “the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made” (Ex 32:35). And Moses called on the Levites to go into the degenerate crowd, stabbing and slashing them with their swords – and 3000 people were killed in that one day (Ex 32:26-28).

But the modern versions are weak in their translations and one doesn’t grasp the seriousness of the sin that Israel committed on that day.  NIV has: “Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughing stock to their enemies”.  It has omitted (as do all the modern versions) the nakedness of the Israelites in verse 25 and replaced it with a more general and softer “running wild” and “out of control”.  Only the KJV tells us that the people were also naked and it was shameful.  How are Christians to know how to walk in purity and integrity before God if the bible they use hides from them what God hates and condemns?

When God describes the sex act between a man and a woman, he refers to it euphemistically as “uncovering one’s nakedness”.  In Leviticus chapter 18, he enumerates the kinds of sexual activity which he hates, forbids, and punishes.  The act of incest is described in detail.  To take one example: “None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD” (Lev 18:6ff).  That is, sex with a close relative is forbidden, and the person who does it is to be put to death (Lev 20:10-12).

But, lest we think that only the sex act, repeatedly described in these chapters as “uncovering the other’s nakedness”, is the subject of God’s condemnation, he makes it clear that even the seeing of the other’s nakedness is sin: “And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, and see her nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity (Lev 20:17).  Thus we learn that not only is incest sinful, whether the couple are married or not, but nudity is as well; both are called “iniquity”.

Unfortunately, the NIV translators (along with all the modern versions, both Protestant and Catholic) omit the reference to seeing nakedness and prefer to restrict the verse to the incestuous sex act within marriage, regarding it as simply dishonouring the woman, and omitting the reference to it as being a sin.  However, a person was not put to death for simply being disgraceful!  Death was the penalty for sin, not for disgracing one’s self or another (Ezek 18:4, 20).  The NIV prefers: “If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace….He has dishonoured his sister” (NIV). 

This is an appalling translation and robs the verse of its specific meaning and of its power.  The verse says nothing of marriage but the NIV inserts it, and thus changes and weakens it – as is so often the case with the NIV. Baal and Ashtoreth worship was to ensure good crops in the following season, and to ensure more children; so the worship was highly sexual.  Even close relatives would have sex with each other during this worship; so for the NIV to restrict the sin to incest within marriage is bland and ignores the implications which God wanted to prevent among his people.

We find another reference to nakedness (Ex 28:40-43) which is clearly and unambiguously stated in the KJV but weak and generalised in the NIV.  God told Moses that Aaron and his sons were to be dressed “for glory and beauty” when ministering to God in the tabernacle.  “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle…to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die….” (Exod 28:40, 42-43 KJV).  The Geneva Bible is even more specific and precise, having: “And thou shalt also make them linen breeches to cover their privates….that they commit not iniquity, and do die” (Ex 28:42-43).  The GB footnote adds an explanatory comment: “In not hiding their nakedness”.  This command to the Aaronic priesthood was to be forever (28:43).   

If the priest’s nakedness was exposed to public view because he did not hide it, God regarded that as sin and the priest was to be put to death for it.  There is no doubt an aspect of ceremonial purity involved in this passage; even so, the nakedness itself is at the centre.  The private parts of the priest were not to be seen, not only because he was the priest ministering to God, but because public nudity is intrinsically sinful.  Ritual impurity only required ritual cleansing but sin required the death penalty.    

The NIV is weak on this and omits the specific reference to nakedness, and therefore doesn’t convey the full force intended by God: “Make linen garments as a covering for the body….so that they will not incur guilt and die” (Ex 28:42 NIV). 

Because the NIV uses the Critical Texts of both Old and New Testaments which are cobbled together from corrupt Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, it is a Catholic bible because Catholic bibles have always used these same critical texts (Alexandrian) in preference to the texts (Byzantine) which were widely spread and used throughout the empire and which greatly outnumbered them.  That is why they emasculate the true doctrines and moral purity of the word of God; whereas the King James Bible alone preserves and protects them. 

Adam and Eve discovered personally, and many passages in the prophets agree, that nudity is shameful.  For example, when God wanted to punish Egypt for their sins, he handed them over to the Assyrians who humiliated them: “So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt (Isa 20:4).

And in tender reminiscing of his love for Jerusalem as he rebukes them for their apostasy, God says: “I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great and thou art come to excellent ornaments [breasts]: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine [pubic] hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare.  Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine” (Ezek 16:6-8).  

In the light of this verse, we understand why the apostle Paul says: “And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness” (1 Cor 12:23).

Finally, there are the verses which refer to pornographic pictures.  For example, when God was giving Israel instructions for what was to happen to the inhabitants of Canaan, the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, one such command was: “Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places” (Num 33:52). 

And Isaiah has: “For the day of the LORD [judgment] shall be….upon all the ships of Tarshish [possibly Carthage], and upon all pleasant pictures (Isa 2:12, 16).  The KJV marginal reading for “pleasant pictures” assures us that God is not referring to idyllic country or seaside scenes where fully clothed families women are at a picnic, or some such scene.  It has “pictures of desire”!  In other words, erotic and pornographic pictures.

There is no room to doubt that these pictures portrayed nudity and all kinds of sexual acts.  One only has to look at pictures of the friezes on Hindu temples to blush at the images carved upon them.  And even ancient Roman villas had mosaics of nudity and sex acts covering the floors.

However, you will only find these verses in the King James Bible.  The NIV merely has: “Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols” (NIV).  Although some images we see from archaeological digs show nude images – a notable one being the goddess Ishtar with her chest covered in many breasts – many others are fully clothed; so the NIV reading can be taken simply to mean images of clothed gods and people.  These images were hateful to God because they represented the gods whom Israel worshipped instead of or alongside his worship.  The NIV is concerned only with a general idea of idolatry in its translation.

But the KJV gives us a much fuller idea of what God is condemning.  It is not just idol worship, but the way in which these idols were worshipped.  The worship of the ancient nations of Canaan was sexual, as I’ve already pointed out.  And the pictures condemned by God portrayed those same sexual acts.  The passage in Exodus 32:25 shows that sex and nudity were part of this worship; and it tells us it was shameful!  The passage in Leviticus 20:17 shows that God regarded nudity outside of lawful marriage as itself as sinful.  The verses in Exodus 28: 40-43, Numbers 33:52 and Isaiah 2:16 present the same message.  And the NIV has failed on every count! 

So the verses which have been discussed above are all unique to the King James Bible.  They include Exodus 32:25 and 28: 40-43, Leviticus 20:17, Numbers 33:52, and Isaiah 2:16 – in this article alone!  You will not find them in the modern versions!  This doesn’t mean the KJV is wrong because it is out of step with the majority – far from it – it means the KJV is correct because it is based on the preserved Hebrew and Greek texts which have come down to us today from the early Church.  They were protected from the ravages of Origen, gnostic heretics, and other bible critics, coming through the Waldenses, thence through the Reformation, and down to us.  But the Critical texts come from those manuscripts which did come through Origen and others like him, suffering depredation on the way; and they originate from the city of Alexandria (one of them is even called the Alexandrian text); whereas the Byzantine preserved texts were spread throughout the Roman Empire.