LILITH: ADAM’S FIRST WIFE, OR DEMON? SEPTEMBER 2, 2020

Actualizado: oct 6




She has been wandering the earth for more than 4,000 years, during which writers, artists, and poets have imagined her mythical persona as a real figure, picturing her as a beautiful, long-haired, demoness, and prolific mother, who rapes men while they sleep. To understand Lilith's importance in historical descriptions, it is essential to know about her origins in ancient Mesopotamian traditions and her role through history up to these days. We are all familiar with the biblical narration on how the first couple came to exist. Genesis tells us about man's creation from dust in God's image and likeness. Realizing that His creation was alone, God took a rib from his chest and created a woman – Eve – to become his companion. The problem with this narrative is that the Bible relates to another story where Eve wasn't the first woman. Genesis describes a prior creation where God created Adam and his companion simultaneously. This part of the biblical narrative has been left out of consideration or censored. Scholars affirm that Lilith is nothing more than a legend representing a character that went against the traditional ideas about a woman's submission to her husband's will. Others believe the myth came about to explain the high rate of infant mortality during biblical times. The inhabitants of those times adjudicated the responsibility for those fatalities to a wicked demoness. Some scholars believe that because Lilith did not accept her role as subservient to Adam, she became the scapegoat for what went wrong during critical events in a woman's life, such as the loss of virginity, or a bad marriage. She was also accused of using men's nocturnal ejaculations to conceive demonic children. Her reputation extended to the most unfortunate events.

Those who believe in her existence knew she did not appear in the biblical texts, not even mentioned by name. Her story begins before the creation of Adam and Eve: "So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). The biblical narrative about the first couple clearly states that God created them from the same dust, and with the same faculties, ostensibly making them equals. Later on, in an almost surgical procedure, the Book tells us that the Lord formed man from dust and gave him life. Then put him into a deep sleep, opened his chest, took one of his ribs, closed the wound, and made the rib into a woman who would become the man's companion (Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:21–22). Are there two creations of humans? In the first one, God created both of them simultaneously; in the second one, he made Adam from the dust of the ground, and the woman from one of his ribs. For most scholars, these are two separate events.

There are many speculations about Adam's first wife, the first woman to exist in the world. In ancient demonology texts from Babylonia, Lilith appears as a female demon and seductress, whose mission is to attack pregnant women and kill their infants. There are many antique artifacts depicting amulets and incantations purported to counter this winged and beautiful wilderness monster's demonic powers that prove her origins. There is an early surviving mention of Lilith's name in Gilgamesh and the Huluppu Tree, a Sumerian poem dating from around 2000 b.c.e. Based on this and other ancient texts; her journey began in Babylonian mythology. It continued through the Bible, spreading to Greece, Syria, Anatolia, Egypt, and Israel's ancient Judaism, up to modern literature, as feminists celebrate this seductive, and murderous, demoness as "a liberated woman who struggled, and achieved, independence from Adam." The prophet Isaiah, who lived approximately from 742-701 b.c.e., did not mention Lilith by name but described her as a murderous monster living in a desolate place, among an unnamed list of nocturnal demons, who hunt the Kingdom of Edom (Isaiah 34:14). The prophet's audience knew Lilith so well that the prophet did not find it necessary to explain her identity. This is her only appearance in the Bible.

Lilith's next appearance occurs when she shows up in the Song for a Sage, a hymn or incantation used in exorcisms in the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the 1940s Qumran. The Scrolls mention Lilith in association with other demons. It is not preposterous to assume that the Qumran community was familiar with the Isaiah passage. The writers similarly described Lilith's personality. In the post-Biblical period, she appears several times, although she is not identified by name but as the First Eve, which indicates that the legend circulated in oral traditions. Circa 500 to 600 c.e., appeared the Babylonian Talmud, an extensive work edited by Jewish rabbis containing legal discussions, analysis of Bible passages, and a few references to Lilith as a demoness who had sex with men while they slept. The Talmud recommends that men should not sleep alone at night to avoid Lilith's sexual attacks.

Inspired by the Bible, written ten centuries after Jesus' death, she appears in an apocryphal work by Dan Ben-Amos titled The Tales of Ben Sira, which included Lilith in its 5th episode, out of 22. This is the first text to recount Lilith's creation. Ben-Amos explains that his is not the only tale about Lilith. The story existed much earlier. Ben-Amos' description is not different from other texts about the demoness. They always portrayed her as a dangerous, sexually insatiable demon who kills infants in the nights of biblical times. However, the Alphabet promotes her from a terrifying monster to Adam's first wife, who left him because he treated her as his inferior. In his work, Ben-Amos tells us that God created Lilith equal to Adam, both from the earth. I am not going to get into the sexually explicit parts of Ben-Amos work, suffices to say that they quarreled about why Adam insisted she played a subservient role by always being on top of her. Lilith was an intelligent woman whose strong character made her oppose Adam's impositions about their sexual positions. Adam insisted that Lilith be sexually submissive, a role she refused to perform. Adam did not concede to her demands, which created a compatibility conflict that ended in eternal separation. Because of their angry discussions, she pronounced God's forbidden name, grew wings, and flew into the air, leaving the Garden of Eden never to return, not even when God sent angels to bring her back. Throughout His angels, God asked Lilith to return to Adam, or 100 of her children would die every day. She adamantly refused to obey God's specific instructions, and God fulfilled His word by cursing her and the offspring that she had procreated with Samael, a demon. She was banished from Paradise by God Himself, at the request of Adam. The Creator turned her into a demoness who would be looking for carnal relations with men in their sleep for all eternity. There is no question, Lilith's most severe sin was her disobedience to God's mandate, which caused God to punish her. Some explain Lilith's hatred for human babies in retaliation for God's slaying of her own. According to the same apocryphal texts, God realized that Adam's loneliness was not good, and decided to create another wife for him, making sure this one would be submissive and obedient to Adam's desires. To make sure she was compliant with Adam's orders, He made her from Adam's rib. He named her Eve, the wife with whom Adam lived in harmony until they committed the sin of eating the forbidden fruit and were expelled from paradise, which caused us to live in permanent sin.

During the Middle Ages, Jewish sources started to tell a story where she appears as Adam's first terrifying wife. In the Zohar, a 13th-century text, Lilith appears alongside Satan. The book reveals that she tried to seduce King Solomon by pretending she was the Queen of Sheba. The King did not fall into her trap. He discovered she was an impostor. Since then, Jewish scholars have tried to clarify the Book of Genesis. Without meaning it, they have also explained why Lilith has received such harsh treatment for millennia. Her appearance in ancient texts as Adam's first wife played an important role in deciding about the inconsistencies in the Book of Genesis, Chapters One and Two. To reconcile these two versions of humanity's creation, there must have been another woman in Adam's life. Lilith was the first wife on a failed marriage. This event forced God to find another wife for Adam.

The early church did not want Lilith to be considered Adam's equal. The religious leaders of the time thought this equality to be the problem that caused them to separate. The churches' ancient hierarchy decided to erase Lilith from the creation narrative to eliminate equality sentiments between men and women and perpetuate women's submission to men's will. According to these medieval texts, Lilith was more intelligent and with better character than Adam; this is why they censured and punished her. In modern times, Lilith has been called the First Feminist. Some feminist movements made her their role model, forgetting that she is a cruel demonic figure. They changed history by telling us that Lilith was an independent woman who selected her sexual partners and had total control over her body and destiny. They named their primary publication after her, Lilith Magazine.

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