Who Was Lilith?
Anyone who has read the Creation story in the Christian Bible's book of Genesis knows the account of the first human beings. The version taught there is one of male dominance... God created Man (Adam) first, and then created the first Woman (Eve) from the rib of Adam. Taking a deeper look... there are indications of another woman God created.
Her name was Lilith... and the myths and legends surrounding her date back farther than the original texts of the Bible. Who was she? Was there another woman that God created before Eve that rebelled? Was she an ancient Sumerian demon? Was she a counterpart to Lucifer? Was she the originator of demons and vampires? These questions and many others have been theorized and studied for centuries. One thing all accounts seem to agree upon... Lilith was a force to be reckoned with.
Lilith in the Christian Bible
There is one reference in the Bible as it stands today of Lilith. In Isaiah 34:14 it refers to her as a "screech owl" that was cast into the wastelands along with other creatures that were uncontrolled. Looking deeper, it is noted that Genesis speaks twice of creating Woman. In the first chapter, verse 21 speaks of God creating man and woman... no mention of the woman being made from Adam's rib. It isn't until the second chapter, verse 22 that woman was created from man.
Ancient texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Talmud have other references as well. The Talmud speaks of a Seductress with malevolent intent, and alludes to her being demonic in nature. The ancient scrolls which contain the Song of Sage makes reference to Lilith by name, speaking in the same context as the passage in Isaiah.
Lilith in Hebrew Mysticism
In the middle ages, the story of Lilith became more defined. She was associated with incubus demons, which fed off of sexual energy. However, it is in the Midrash Abkur that the accounts of Lilith being Adam's first wife were examined in more depth. This was followed by the teachings in the Zophar, the text that is studied by the followers of a form of Hebrew mysticism known as Kaballah. Many of these writings were also found in the teachings of a highly controversial text known as the Alphabet of Ben Sira.
The text itself is thought by some of the Hebrew faith to be an offensive joke at worst, and a collection of fables and folk stories at best. It can't be ignored however, that in speaking of the creation of Man and Woman, Genesis has two passages... and these passages seem to be indicating more than one woman was created. In the gaps that the Alphabet of Ben Sira fills in... we are told of God's first creation of a woman who refused to be submissive. A woman who was created from the same dust that Adam was... his equal.
When she refused to be submissive and left the paradise that God had created for them, she is said to have gone to the middle of the Red Sea and become a lover demons, bearing their children. God sent three angels to bring her back, giving her an ultimatum of death to one hundred of her children each day or returning. She refused and countered with a vow of her own.. that she would only spare the lives of children who had the names of the angels (Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof) around their necks.
It is also said in texts in the Midrash Abkur that Adam separated from Eve when his guilt for Cain's murder of his brother overwhelmed him. In these accounts, Lilith finds Adam during his 130 year fast and seduces him... only these children are children of darkness. They are referred to as the "plagues of mankind". It is also said that before doing this, she seduced Cain and bore him unholy children as well.
Lilith in Sumerian Legend
Long before the Bible was written, there were many ancient legends that had references to Lilith. The Sumerians, who dwelled in what is now Iraq had accounts of Lilitu, who again is described as highly malevolent and as a seducer of men while they would sleep. She is thought to be the dual side of King Gilgamesh's father Lillu, who is said to have been a tempter of women. Again, there are references of harm to children. There is also reference to Lilith as a concubine of the Sumerian god Ishtar. In these accounts, Lilith was no more submissive than she was in the Hebrew writings. Again, she finds herself fleeing from oppression, doomed to bring the demise of children.
Lilith as a Demon
Certainly the Hebrew and Sumerian legends indicate Lilith was a negative being and any children she bore were unholy. This is one way it is thought that Lilith being the mother of demons originated from. She is thought by some accounts to be the counterpart to Lucifer, and has even been depicted as the tempter when Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden.
Greek mythology has Lamia, whose story is eerily similar to that of Lilith. Lamia also devours children and is known for seducing men. She is depicted as having a human upper body and the lower body of a serpent... much as is described in the account of her being the tempter for Adam and Eve.
Lilith and the Vampire Connection
When Cain was cast out by God, it is thought that he encountered Lilith among the wastelands where she had made her home. In their coupling, she taught him the power of consuming blood. This myth certainly indicates that Lilith and Cain had traits of what are thought to be vampires. Since Lilith did not consume of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Life, as Eve did, many believe she isn't subject to death. Legends of the first vampires and their blood lust with the possibility of immortality could have come from these early myths.
In looking at the many beliefs concerning Lilith, one common thread remains clear... she did not answer to any man or God. Even when she was threatened and given ultimatums, she chose her own path. It can be argued that there are so many accounts of Lilith that knowing the true one would be impossible. However, it can also be argued that these many stories have more similarities than differences. It is in those similarities that we may find the answer to this mysterious woman.
More About Lilith:
Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2010 TrueGhostTales.com all rights reserved.
liyliyth and Isaiah 34:14
Lilith and The Legends of the Jews
"Among the adversaries that assailed him (Job) was Lilith, the queen of Sheba. She lived at a great distance from his residence, it took her and her army three years to travel from her home to his. She fell upon his oxen and his asses, and took possession of them, after slaying the men to whose care Job had entrusted them. One man escaped alone. Wounded and bruised, he had only enough life in him to tell Job the tale of his losses, and then he fell down dead. The sheep, which had been left unmolested by the queen of Sheba, were taken away by the Chaldeans. Job's first intention was to go to war against these marauders, but when he was told that some of his property had been consumed by fire from heaven, he desisted, and said, "If the heavens turn against me, I can do nothing." ~ From The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg
The original word "liyliyth" in Isaiah 34:14 has been translated as screech owl, night monster, lamia, lilith, and night-owl. Here is the passage from different translations:
New American Standard Bible
King James Bible
American King James Version
American Standard Version
Darby Bible Translation
English Revised Version
Webster's Bible Translation
World English Bible
Young's Literal Translation
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