Genesis I: 27 reads:
"And Elohim created Adam in His Image, in the Image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
Genesis II:18 and 22 read:
"And Yahweh said, 'It is not good for Adam to be alone. I will make a fitting helper for him.'...And Yahweh fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man."
Today, we know that Genesis I and II are simply two separate Creation stories. Genesis II derives from a Sumerian story, while Genesis I is a later creation of the Hebrew Priesthood (created by the Deuteronomic School around 700 BCE). However, to a people who were quite determined to take the Scriptures as ultimate Truth, such a contradiction was not welcome at all. It demanded an explanation that reconciled both stories.
Explanation number one is perhaps the best—Qabalistically speaking. As we know, Adam was created to perfection. He was created in the perfect image of "Elohim." Of course, God is not seen as being either male or female, but as both at once. Even the Name Elohim is a feminine word (Eloah—Goddess) with a masculine plural suffix. Thus, if God is male and female, the mother and the father, then Adam (which translates as "Mankind") must also have originally been male and female in one. To be otherwise would have been to be unbalanced, and thus imperfect.
And thus was Adam's perfection, said to be even greater than the Angels. In fact, in this view, Adam was not a human at all—but a Cosmic Being known as Adam Kadmon. He was the Archetype upon which humans would later be based.
Now, enters the passages from Genesis II. Just as the Unity of God was divided in two (the separation of the Waters by the Firmament) to create the Universe, so to was mankind created by the separation of the Archetypal Man into "its" two halves—male and female. Thus, woman was separated from man, and Adam Kadmon became an unbalanced creature—a human. This imperfection finally led to the Fall, the manifestation of the Human Race from Archetypal to the Actual. The woman was called Eve, which literally translates as "Life." Mankind was given Life, and the rest is history.
Explanation number two, though just as Qabalistically useful in its own right, is nevertheless vastly more fun—especially mythologically speaking. This is where Lilith enters the picture as the first wife of Adam. The verse from Genesis I was thus explained as a veiled hint to the entire Lilith affair. Genesis II:20 even helps back this up: "And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found." The animals of the Earth had been created for the strict purpose of being helpers to Adam, and Lilith was among them. But, Lilith had failed, and no other beast came even close (apparently Lilith was the only animal enough like Adam to be a candidate at all). The next seen in the Scripture is where Yahweh breaks down and decides to chance separating Adam into his two halves of male and female.
Without worrying over specific developments, I will simply relate the entire tale as it came to be after all. Following is the story of Lilith:
Now Lilith was the first wife of Adam, well before the creation of Eve.
She had been created along with him to be his helper, as the Torah states "Male
and Female He created them."
Adam replied that he, being the Image of the Elohim, would not stoop to such a level as to be equal to Lilith, who was simply one of the many beasts of the field She was created as his helper, and that is how she would remain.
Lilith, however, was far more than Adam had imagined. She went straight away to Yahweh, and used her prowess of seduction upon Him. Yahweh, known for his soft heart toward women, was finally lulled into revealing His sacred Name unto her. Thereupon Lilith pronounced the Divine Name, and flew away from the Garden and Adam forever.
She took residence within a cave upon the shores of the Red Sea, where to this day she finds Her shelter Within. She accepted the demons of the world as her lovers, and spawned many thousands of demon children in only a short time. It is thus that the world became populated with demons, and how Lilith came to be called the Mother of Demons—wife of Asmodeus, the King of Demons. In this aspect, she was called the Younger Lilith.
Adam, meanwhile, found that he regretted wishing Lilith away. He went to Yahweh and stated his case for the return of Lilith. Yahweh agreed that a creature of Eden should not so easily depart that realm, and dispatched three Enforcer Angels to retrieve her.
These three, Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangeloph, soon found Lilith within her cave, and demanded her return unto Adam by order of Yahweh. If she refused, they informed her, they would slay one hundred of her demon children each day until she decided to return.
Lilith exclaimed that even this fate was better than returning to Eden and submission to Adam. As the Enforcers carried out their threat, Lilith also made a terrible proclamation. In return for the pain delivered upon her, she would slay the children of Adam. She swore to attack children, and even their mothers, during child-birth. She also swore that all newborns were in danger of her wrath—baby girls for twenty days after birth, and boys for eight. Not only this, but she vowed also to attack men in their sleep. She would steal their semen to give birth to more demon children, which would replace those slain each day.
However, even Lilith was not without feeling. She also made one other
promise: wherever she saw displayed the names of the three Angels who
opposed her, no one in that place would be in danger from her actions.
(a) Having decided to give Adam a helpmeet lest he should be alone of his kind, God put him into a deep sleep, removed one of his ribs, formed it into a woman, and closed up the wound, Adam awoke and said: 'This being shall be named "Woman", because she has been taken out o f man. A man and a woman shall be one flesh.' The title he gave her was Eve, 'the Mother of All Living''. 1
(b) Some say that God created man and woman in His own image on the Sixth Day, giving them charge over the world; 2 but that Eve did not yet exist. Now, God had set Adam to name every beast, bird and other living thing. When they passed before him in pairs, male and female, Adam-being already like a twenty-year-old man-felt jealous of their loves, and though he tried coupling with each female in turn, found no satisfaction in the act. He therefore cried: 'Every creature but I has a proper matel', and prayed God would remedy this injustice. 3
(c) God then formed Lilith, the first woman, just as He had formed Adam, except that He used filth and sediment instead of pure dust. From Adam's union with this demoness, and with another like her named Naamah, Tubal Cain's sister, sprang Asmodeus and innumerable demons that still plague mankind. Many generations later, Lilith and Naamah came to Solomon's judgement seat, disguised as harlots of Jerusalem'. 4
(d) Adam and Lilith never found peace together; for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent posture he demanded. 'Why must I lie beneath you?' she asked. 'I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal.' Because Adam tried to compel her obedience by force, Lilith, in a rage, uttered the magic name of God, rose into the air and left him.
Adam complained to God: 'I have been deserted by my helpmeet' God at once sent the angels Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof to fetch Lilith back. They found her beside the Red Sea, a region abounding in lascivious demons, to whom she bore lilim at the rate of more than one hundred a day. 'Return to Adam without delay,' the angels said, `or we will drown you!' Lilith asked: `How can I return to Adam and live like an honest housewife, after my stay beside the Red Sea?? 'It will be death to refuse!' they answered. `How can I die,' Lilith asked again, `when God has ordered me to take charge of all newborn children: boys up to the eighth day of life, that of circumcision; girls up to the twentieth day. None the less, if ever I see your three names or likenesses displayed in an amulet above a newborn child, I promise to spare it.' To this they agreed; but God punished Lilith by making one hundred of her demon children perish daily; 5 and if she could not destroy a human infant, because of the angelic amulet, she would spitefully turn against her own. 6
(e) Some say that Lilith ruled as queen in Zmargad, and again in Sheba; and was the demoness who destroyed job's sons. 7 Yet she escaped the curse of death which overtook Adam, since they had parted long before the Fall. Lilith and Naamah not only strangle infants but also seduce dreaming men, any one of whom, sleeping alone, may become their victim. 8
(f) Undismayed by His failure to give Adam a suitable helpmeet, God tried again, and let him watch while he built up a woman's anatomy: using bones, tissues, muscles, blood and glandular secretions, then covering the whole with skin and adding tufts of hair in places.
The sight caused Adam such disgust that even when this woman, the First Eve, stood there in her full beauty, he felt an invincible repugnance. God knew that He had failed once more, and took the First Eve away. Where she went, nobody knows for certain. 9
(g) God tried a third time, and acted more circumspectly. Having taken a rib from Adam's side in his sleep, He formed it into a woman; then plaited her hair and adorned her, like a bride, with twenty-four pieces of jewellery, before waking him. Adam was entranced. 10
(h) Some say that God created Eve not from Adam's rib, but from a tail ending in a sting which had been part of his body. God cut this off, and the stump-now a useless coccyx-is still carried by Adam's descendants. 11
(i) Others say that God's original thought had been to create two human beings, male and female; but instead He designed a single one with a male face looking forward, and a female face looking back. Again He changed His mind, removed Adam's backward-looking face, and built a woman's body for it. 12
(j) Still others hold that Adam was originally created as an androgyne of male and female bodies joined back to back. Since this posture made locomotion difficult, and conversation awkward, God divided the androgyne and gave each half a new rear. These separate beings He placed in Eden, forbidding them to couple. 13
Notes on sources:
1. The tradition that man's first sexual intercourse was with animals, not women, may be due to the widely spread practice of bestiality among herdsmen of the Middle East, which is still condoned by custom, although figuring three times in the Pentateuch as a capital crime. In the Akkadian Gilgamesh Epic, Enkidu is said to have lived with gazelles and jostled other wild beasts at the watering place, until civilized by Aruru's priestess. Having enjoyed her embraces for six days and seven nights, he wished to rejoin the wild beasts but, to his surprise, they fled from him. Enkidu then knew that he had gained understanding, and the priestess said: 'Thou art wise, Enkidu, like unto a godl'
2. Primeval man was held by the Babylonians to have been androgynous. Thus the Gilgamesh Epic gives Enkidu androgynous features: `the hair of his head like a woman's, with locks that sprout like those of Nisaba, the Grain-goddess.' The Hebrew tradition evidently derives from Greek sources, because both terms used in a Tannaitic midrash to describe the bisexual Adam are Greek: androgynos, 'man-woman', and diprosopon, 'twofaced'. Philo of Alexandria, the Hellenistic philosopher and commentator on the Bible, contemporary with Jesus, held that man was at first bisexual; so did the Gnostics. This belief is clearly borrowed from Plato. Yet the myth of two bodies placed back to back may well have been founded on observation of Siamese twins, which are sometimes joined in this awkward manner. The two-faced Adam appears to be a fancy derived from coins or statues of Janus, the Roman New Year god.
3. Divergences between the Creation myths of Genesis r and n, which allow Lilith to be presumed as Adam's first mate, result from a careless weaving together of an early Judaean and a late priestly tradition. The older version contains the rib incident. Lilith typifies the Anath-worshipping Canaanite women, who were permitted pre-nuptial promiscuity. Time after time the prophets denounced Israelite women for following Canaanite practices; at first, apparently, with the priests' approval-since their habit of dedicating to God the fees thus earned is expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy xxIII. I8. Lilith's flight to the Red Sea recalls the ancient Hebrew view that water attracts demons. 'Tortured and rebellious demons' also found safe harbourage in Egypt. Thus Asmodeus, who had strangled Sarah's first six husbands, fled 'to the uttermost parts of Egypt' (Tobit viii. 3), when Tobias burned the heart and liver of a fish on their wedding night.
4. Lilith's bargain with the angels has its ritual counterpart in an apotropaic rite once performed in many Jewish communities. To protect the newborn child against Lilith-and especially a male, until he could be permanently safeguarded by circumcision-a ring was drawn with natron, or charcoal, on the wall of the birthroom, and inside it were written the words: 'Adam and Eve. Out, Lilith!' Also the names Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof (meanings uncertain) were inscribed on the door. If Lilith nevertheless succeeded in approaching the child and fondling him, he would laugh in his sleep. To avert danger, it was held wise to strike the sleeping child's lips with one finger-whereupon Lilith would vanish.
5. 'Lilith' is usually derived from the Babylonian-Assyrian word lilitu, ,a female demon, or wind-spirit'-one of a triad mentioned in Babylonian spells. But she appears earlier as 'Lillake' on a 2000 B.G. Sumerian tablet from Ur containing the tale of Gilgamesh and the Willow Tree. There she is a demoness dwelling in the trunk of a willow-tree tended by the Goddess Inanna (Anath) on the banks of the Euphrates. Popular Hebrew etymology seems to have derived 'Lilith' from layil, 'night'; and she therefore often appears as a hairy night-monster, as she also does in Arabian folklore. Solomon suspected the Queen of Sheba of being Lilith, because she had hairy legs. His judgement on the two harlots is recorded in I Kings III. 16 ff. According to Isaiah xxxiv. I4-I5, Lilith dwells among the desolate ruins in the Edomite Desert where satyrs (se'ir), reems, pelicans, owls, jackals, ostriches, arrow-snakes and kites keep her company.
6. Lilith's children are called lilim. In the Targum Yerushalmi, the priestly blessing of Numbers vi. 26 becomes: 'The Lord bless thee in all thy doings, and preserve thee from the Lilim!' The fourth-century A.D. commentator Hieronymus identified Lilith with the Greek Lamia, a Libyan queen deserted by Zeus, whom his wife Hera robbed of her children. She took revenge by robbing other women of theirs.
7. The Lamiae, who seduced sleeping men, sucked their blood and ate their flesh, as Lilith and her fellow-demonesses did, were also known as Empusae, 'forcers-in'; or Mormolyceia, 'frightening wolves'; and described as 'Children of Hecate'. A Hellenistic relief shows a naked Lamia straddling a traveller asleep on his back. It is characteristic of civilizations where women are treated as chattels that they must adopt the recumbent posture during intercourse, which Lilith refused. That Greek witches who worshipped Hecate favoured the superior posture, we know from Apuleius; and it occurs in early Sumerian representations of the sexual act, though not in the Hittite. Malinowski writes that Melanesian girls ridicule what they call `the missionary position', which demands that they should lie passive and recumbent.
8. Naamah, 'pleasant', is explained as meaning that 'the demoness sang pleasant songs to idols'. Zmargad suggest smaragdos, the semi-precious aquamarine; and may therefore be her submarine dwelling. A demon named Smaragos occurs in the Homeric Epigrams.
9. Eve's creation by God from Adam's rib-a myth establishing male supremacy and disguising Eve's divinity-lacks parallels in Mediterranean or early Middle-Eastern myth. The story perhaps derives iconotropically from an ancient relief, or painting, which showed the naked Goddess Anath poised in the air, watching her lover Mot murder his twin Aliyan; Mot (mistaken by the mythographer for Yahweh) was driving a curved dagger under Aliyan's fifth rib, not removing a sixth one. The familiar story is helped by a hidden pun on tsela, the Hebrew for 'rib': Eve, though designed to be Adam's helpmeet, proved to be a tsela, a 'stumbling', or 'misfortune'. Eve's formation from Adam's tail is an even more damaging myth; perhaps suggested by the birth of a child with a vestigial tail instead of a coccyx-a not infrequent occurrence.
10. The story of Lilith's escape to the East and of Adam's subsequent marriage to Eve may, however, record an early historical incident: nomad herdsmen, admitted into Lilith's Canaanite queendom as guests (see 16. 1), suddenly seize power and, when the royal household thereupon flees, occupy a second queendom which owes allegiance to the Hittite Goddess Heba.
The meaning of 'Eve' is disputed. Hawwah is explained in Genesis III. 20 as 'mother of all living'; but this may well be a Hebraicized form of the divine name Heba, Hebat, Khebat or Khiba. This goddess, wife of the Hittite Storm-god, is shown riding a lion in a rock-sculpture at Hattusaswhich equates her with Anath-and appears as a form of Ishtar in Hurrian texts. She was worshipped at Jerusalem (see 27. 6). Her Greek name was Hebe, Heracles's goddess-wife.
I do not feel that any God or Goddess can be divorced from Their mythos. As I have stated elsewhere, a Mythology is the Soul of the God(s) it depicts. For instance, you and I both know that the Gods did not build the city of Babylon with Their own hands. Yet, if one were to call upon Great Marduk, He would have full memory of constructing the city. Likewise, we know that Adam and Eve did not exist as the "first humans." Yet, Lilith has full memory of Eden, the Fall, and every other event depicted in Genesis and the various Hebraic Legends. It is thus that Lilith, though She is not the vile and disgusting ArchDemon envisioned by the early Judaic Peoples, is nevertheless affected by these conceptions of Her. Her Dark aspects, even the nastiest ones, are a part of Her, regardless of modern attempts to "liberate" Her. Lilith was not originally a benevolent Goddess who was raped by the Patriarchy.
Kabbala: Lilith's Origins
Note that the following passages are either informed by or related to the traditions of Lilith as Adam's first wife, referred to in the Alphabet of Ben Sira. Scholem concluded that references to Lilith in the Zohar were based on the Alphabet. [AH]
Moses b. Solomon of Burgos
At this point I will include a Christian addition to the Lilith Mythos. Though it may not figure into the Hebraic views of her, it still relates. This addition concerns Lilith's involvement with the Fall from Eden.
Perhaps the most famous version of this Christian Lilith is the Sistine Chapel paintings by Michealangelo. In this She is shown as a half-woman half-snake and is credited with being the very Serpent who instigated the Fall from Eden itself. Apparently, Lilith was not satisfied with her vows of revenge as they were, and decided to attack Adam where he least expected it— through his new wife, Eve. Perhaps even an amount of jealousy is involved here.
Of course, it was Satan who was said to have been the serpent in the Christian viewpoint. And, indeed, Lilith is said to be the wife of Satan (or, from the Hebrew angle, the wife of Samael). The Serpent was a joint effort between these two to take revenge upon Adam and cause them to Fall from grace. Lilith provided the body of the serpent, while Samael was the voice. As the wife of Samael (rather than Asmodeus), she is known as the Elder Lilith.
I have all ideas that this Serpent-Lilith was a result of the Rabbinical view of Lilith—She who seduces men from the True Path of God, thus causing them to fall from grace as Adam did.
Within the mythologies of King Solomon, we meet Lilith on a number of occasions, usually known as the Queen of Sheba. Solomon had suspicions that this queen was in fact Lilith, and thus devised a plan to know for sure. After inviting her for a visit to his palace, he had the floor altered so as to appear as a pool of ankle-deep water. When the queen arrived, she lifted her skirts to walk through the pool, and Solomon was able to just barely glimpse her overly-hairy legs.
This was the Rabbinical image of Lilith—a dark and beautiful
seductress from the waist up, yet hairy and ugly from the waist down.
In many cases, she is actually a male from the waste down. This, of course,
is the part of the body that would most be concealed from view. Only
one intimate with her would find out the horrible truth—after it
was too late.
She is sex, indulgence, and everything that one desires to do which breaks the Laws of God. She is all of the things in life which tempts and seduces the man off of the Path of God, and into the ways of evil. Only after she has seduced the man, and he is firmly within her grasp, does she reveal her true nature of ugliness. In this, Lilith far predates the Christian concept of the Pan-like Satan.
And here we find that the plot thickens. The Qabalists created yet another chapter in the life of Lilith, which stems directly from the above Religious ideas. As Lilith had come to represent those things that God frowned upon, so too did she come to symbolize the ways of the entire world at large. She was the ways of the Pagans, who did not frown upon sex, indulgence, and fun, who lived around the Judaic Peoples. She symbolized all those who would break the Torah, and she was anyone who would attack the Israelites. Most of all, she was Babylon.
Before I continue, it is important to explain the principals involved. Though these concepts developed well after the Second Temple had been destroyed (in 70 AD), the Temple itself plays a large role in the Mythos. Also involved are Adonai (The Lord), and His Bride the Shekinah (Hebrew for "Presence").
This mythos is a development of earlier Pagan ideas, where the union of the Male and Female aspects of the universe are seen as paramount to the continued existence of all Creation. This was known as the Sacred Marriage. In the middle Eastern cultures, a newly anointed King was ritually married to the Goddess, and thus to the Kingdom itself. Likewise, the Qabalists depicted Adonai as a King, and the Shekinah was [the people of] Israel herself.
There was one single place where Adonai would join with the Shekinah, one place holy enough to sustain the Divine Sex. That place was the Temple of Solomon. Once in the year, the Couple had joined together within it's walls, and the Divine Light of goodness shone throughout the world.
However, the Temple had been destroyed, and its treasures carried into foreign and Pagan lands. With it went the perfect union of Adonai and His Kingdom. He withdrew from the world, refusing to meet the Shekinah in an impure fashion. The Shekinah Herself was taken captive by the foreign peoples and was there raped by them continuously. The Shekinah is the physical plane, and therefore could not retreat from it. Her rape was symbolic of mankind's rape of the world and the Israelite people.
And here, once again, enters Lilith. As before stated, Lilith symbolized the very foreign people who held the Shekinah captive. Lilith was their evil ways—and now those evil ways were in control. How? Because Adonai could not be without a female partner. There could be no God without—in some sense—Goddess. Thus, in an effort to sustain a balance, Adonai took Lilith Herself as His consort. Being what She was, Adonai felt no pity in uniting with Her in impurity. She was, quite simply, His harlot.
Thus it was that one half of the Divine Force which sustained the Universe was tainted—allowing the evil of mankind to be supreme and unstoppable. Lilith was the Dark Shekinah—the polar opposite of that Holy Goddess. She had made Her final jump from demoness to Goddess—the Wife of God.
The Qabalist felt his duty was to strive to reunite the Shekinah with Adonai, and thus cast Lilith away forever. The Sabbath was on example of this. Because of the holiness of this day, Lilith had no power to remain with Adonai, and was forced to retreat to the desert where She screamed in pain until the day came to an end. It was during this time that Adonai had the best chance of reuniting with the Shekinah—and the Qabalist did all he could to help through purity and godly living. This symbolism is even hinted at in the Christian Revelation, where the Whore of Babylon is supplanted in power by the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.
This was the final outcome of Lilith, and here you have Her mythos in full: First wife of Adam, wife of Asmodeus, wife of Samael, the Serpent of the Tree of Knowledge, and finally the wife of God. From here, I will briefly explain the modern interpretation of Her, and you will see why I disagree with most of it so strongly: