In the beginning, Adam and Eve had no fear at all. But fear became part of the human experience. Just what fears entered their lives?
Their first fear came with their discovery of their naked condition but just what were they afraid of? It doesn’t appear to be danger of being injured. It rather seems to be acute awareness of their vulnerability to the general environment. It says “their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked”. The intense feeling of being naked motivates them to make coverings of leaves.
As they anticipate the arrival of the Lord, they run and hide. This is an act of pure fear. They stop running as reason comes back but let Adam explain, “…I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.” Adam speaks as if they had no handmade coverings. He needed a lot more leaves between him and God. Adam speaks as a man who feels alone in the world.
We can be sure of this: they did not want to be seen as naked. Adam becomes silent as the reason for his fear is examined. Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the snake and both imply God is somewhat responsible by giving out wives and creating sneaky creatures that bother innocent people.
The source of their fear is separateness. Adam is now separated from God, his wife, his environment. He is even divided within himself, he feels blame but tries to cast it off himself without success. With this separateness will come sorrow for both the woman and man.
We turn to the first man born: Cain. He discovers a new fear. Cain remakes himself into a heartless murderer. Cain has discovered killing is rather easy and now he fears retribution.
Eve indicates her fear of having no one to lead the family after losing Abel. She and Adam find hope in their new offspring, Seth.
The next fear is fear of drowning. At first, no one but Noah and family take this seriously. They build a boat for the purpose of surviving an enormous flood. When the flood waters eventually start to rise, the people find their fear will not enable them to find any way to save themselves. There is no time left now.
We learn about another fear from Noah. It is a fear of disrespecting order. The patriarchal family of Noah and his sons is now the foundation for a new society. This is endangered by one son who shows disrespect for his father. Noah recognizes the danger of this and deals with it before it can topple the fresh start.