Lilith appears in Jewish, Sumerian, Arabian and even Teutonic legends. She's also present in many Jewish books, such as Talmud, Sefer-ha-Zoar or Splendour Book and Midrash.

Many tales concerning Lilith seem to attest to the man's anxiety about women that cannot be kept under control (because of this, Lilith is also considered a feminism symbol).

According to the Jewish tradition, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, before Eve. They say she was Caine's mother, not Eve.

Since Lilith was created from the same source of Adam, both having been formed from the ground, they were equal in all ways (some books talk about "sediments and dirt" in order to point out her negative features). When he tried to make her submit to his will, she rebelled and flew away (Lilith didn't want to lie under him during sexual relations, because she considered that position as "insulting"). She went near the Red Sea and coupled with the Djinns, giving birth to a lot of demonic children (called Lilim).

God, in order to try and convince her to come back to Adam, sent three Angels to reason with her (Sanvi, Sansanvi and Semangelaf), but Lilith refused to return. The Angels punished her by exterminating nearly all her sons. Lilith swore deadly hatred to the man's sons: they narrate she strangled new-born childs in their cradles and tormented sleeping men, after having had mortal embraces with them.

Lilith in Jewish Mysticism

According to Jewish folklore, Lilith was the first wife of Adam. She was banished from the Garden of Eden when she refused to make herself subservient to Adam (specifically, she refused to get into the missionary position with him during sex). When she was cast out, she was made into a demon figure, and Adam was given a second wife, Eve, who was fashioned from his rib to ensure her obedience to her man. The following is an excerpt from a Jewish folktale that describes some of the evils attributed to Lilith:


" The wife brought the mirror and all of the fine furnishings in the cellar to her own home and proudly displayed it. She hung the mirror in the room of their daughter, who was a dark-haired coquette. The girl glanced at herself in the mirror all the time, and in this way she was drawn into Lilith's web.... For that mirror had hung in the the den of demons, and a daughter of Lilith had made her home there. And when the mirror was taken from the haunted house, the demoness came with it. For every mirror is a gateway to the Other World and leads directly to Lilith's cave. That is the cave Lilith went to when she abandoned Adam and the Garden of Eden for all time, the cave where she sported with her demon lovers. From these unions multitudes of demons were born, who flocked from that cave and infiltrated the world. And when they want to return, they simply enter the nearest mirror. That is why it is said that Lilith makes her home in every mirror...


" Now the daughter of Lilith who made her home in that mirror watched every movement of the girl who posed before it. She bided her time and one day she slipped out of the mirror and took possession of the girl, entering through her eyes. In this way she took control of her, stirring her desire at will.... So it happened that this young girl, driven by the evil wishes of Lilith's daughter, ran around with young men who lived in the same neighborhood."


From "Lilith's Cave," Lilith's Cave: Jewish tales of the supernatural, edited by Howard Schwartz (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988)

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Other folktales describe of how Lilith captured Jewish babies in the night and ate them, and how she led young girls and young husbands astray. Although Lilith was demonized by early Jewish culture as a symbol of promiscuity and disobedience, many modern Jewish feminists see Lilith as a positive figure, a model of woman as equal to man in the creation story. For further reference, please check out the pages I have listed below, or read the introduction to the collection of stories in Lilith's Cave (see above).

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Treatise on the Left Emanation
R. Isaac b. Jacob Ha-Kohen

Tr. Ronald C. Kiener
Joseph Dan, ed. The Early Kabbalah, (New York: Pauilist Press, 1986), exerpted from pp. 172-182). Used by permission of the translator.

The Treatise on the Left Emanation was written in the first half of the 13th century, and it, along with writings of R. Isaac's brother, R. Jacob, seems to have exerted significant influence on R. Moses de Leon, the author of the Zohar. It is enough later than the Alphabet of b. Sira for the author to be familiar with that tradition, but it betrays no apparent knowledge of it. This could mean that b. Sira was unknown to R. Isaac, but it could just as well mean that he found it less than useful (or even offensive -- see Eliezer Segal's Critique of the Alphabet). Scholem argues that b. Sira is a major source for Lilith material in the Zohar, but my inclination is to see this text as much more influential in that regard. [AH]


6. I will now set down the names of the princes of jealousy and enmity. Yet since their essence and their service is true and pure, their mouths are free from mendacity and neither lies nor falsehoods pass between them.
The first prince and accuser, the commander of jealousy, is evil Samael, accompanied by his retinue. He is called "evil" not because of his nature but because he desires to unite and intimately mingle with an emanation not of his nature, as we shall explain.
The second prince is called his deputy, and his name is Za'afi'el, accompanied by his entourage.


The third prince is called third-in-command, and his name is Za'ami'el, accompanied by his staff.
The fourth prince is Qasfi'el, accompanied by his retinue.
The fifth prince is Ragzi'el, accompanied by his staff.
The sixth prince is 'Abri'el, accompanied by his staff.
The seventh is Meshulhi'el, accompanied by his staff. These latter comprise the delegation of evil angels.
....
19. In answer to your question concerning Lilith, I shall explain to you the essence of the matter. Concerning this point there is a received tradition from the ancient Sages who made use of the Secret Knowledge of the Lesser Palaces, which is the manipulation of demons and a ladder by which one ascends to the prophetic levels. In this tradition it is made clear that Samael and Lilith were born as one, similar to the form of Adam and Eve who were also born as one, reflecting what is above. This is the account of Lilith which was received by the Sages in the Secret Knowledge of the Palaces. The Matron Lilith is the mate of Samael. Both of them were born at the same hour in the image of Adam and Eve, intertwined in each other. Asmodeus the great king of the demons has as a mate the Lesser (younger) Lilith, daughter of the king whose name is Qafsefoni. The name of his mate is Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and their daughter is Lilith.

This is the exact text of what is written in The Chapters of the Lesser Palaces as we have received it, word for word and letter for letter. And the scholars of this wisdom possess a very profound tradition from the ancients. They found it stated in those Chapters that Samael, the great prince of them all, grew exceedingly jealous of Asmodeus the king of the demons because of this Lilith who is called Lilith the Maiden (the young). She is in the form of a beautiful woman from her head to her waist. But from the waist down she is burning fire--like mother like daughter. She is called Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and the meaning is something immersed (mabu tabal). The meaning here is that her intentions are never for the good. She only seeks to incite wars and various demons of war and the war between Daughter Lilith and Matron Lilith.


They say that from Asmodeus and his mate Lilith a great prince was born in heaven. He is the ruler of eighty thousand destructive demons and is called "the sword of king Asmodeus." His name is Alefpene'ash and His face burns like a raging fire ('esh). He is also called Gurigur, for he antagonizes and struggles with the prince of Judah, who is called Gur Aryeh Yehudah (Lion-cub of Judah). From the same form that gave birth to this war-demon another prince, a prince whose root is in Kingdom, was born in heaven. He is called "the sword of the Messiah." He too has two names: Meshihi'el and Kokhvi'el. When the time comes and when God wishes, this sword will leave its sheath and verses of prophecy will come True: "For My sword shall be drunk in the heavens; Lo, it shall come down upon Edom" (Isaiah 34:5). "A star rises from Jacob" (Numbers; 24:17). Amen. Soon in our days may we merit to see the face of the Messiah our righteous one; we and all our people....


22. I shall now teach you a wonderful innovation. You already know that evil Samael and wicked Lilith are like a sexual pair who, by means of an intermediary, receive an evil and wicked emanation from one and emanate to the other. I shall explain this relying on the esoteric meaning in the verse "In that day the Lord will punish with His great, cruel, mighty sword Leviathan the twisted serpent and Leviathan the tortuous serpent"--this is Lilith--"and He will slay the dragon of the sea" (Isaiah 27:1).

As there is a pure Leviathan in the sea and it is called a serpent, so there is a great defiled serpent in the sea in the literal sense. The same holds true above in a hidden way. The heavenly serpent is a blind prince, the image of an intermediary between Samael and Lilith. Its name is Tanin'iver[24] The masters of tradition said that just as this serpent slithers without eyes, so the supernal serpent has the image of a spiritual form without color--these are "the eyes." The tradiationists call it an eyeless creature, therefore its name is Tanin'iver. He is the bond, the accompaniment, and the union between Samael and Lilith. If he were created whole in the fullness of his emanation he would have destroyed the world in an instant. .


When the divine Will arrives and the emanation of Samael and Lilith weakens the emanation achieved by the blind prince, they will be completely annihilated by Gabriel prince of Strength, who instigates war against them with the aid of the prince of Lovingkindness. then the verse which we have expounded according to its secret meaning will come true....


24. I found written in the name of an ancient traditionist and in the name of the perfect Hasid of blessed memory[25] that Lilith is also Taninsam.[26] They said that this name is based on the serpent who is in the image of an intermediary between Lilith and her mate. He will eat deadly poison at the hands of the prince of Strength; it is an elixir of life for all whose inclination overcomes them. Then he participates with Michael, the prince of Lovingkindness, in defeating the rule of evil in heaven and on earth. Then the verse will come true: "For His Lovingkindness has overcome us; the truth of God endures forever. Hallelujah" (Psalms 117:2).


The secret of the covenant of salt (melab)[27] is the kingdom of the accompaniment of beauty[28] Therefore they hinted with secrets regarding the salted fish [Leviathan] to feed the righteous in future time. Happy is he who understands these things as they are.

Notes
[24]. Literally "blind serpent."
[25]. Rabbi Judah the Hasid?
[26]. Literally; "poisonous serpent," but also "blind" (suma').
[27]. See Numbers 18:19.
[28]. Malkhut Leviat Hen.

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Zohar

We come now to the Zohar, which is perhaps the most important of the "founding" texts, for it contains references to Lilith in all of her various guises, including the three which have been illustrated in some of the earlier works of reference. The mentions of Lilith in the Zohar are even more important because, for the first time, Lilith is not simply mentioned incidentally, but, rather, she becomes a character in her own right, whose story is often told in elaborate detail. Some history of the Zohar is necessary before considering Lilith's appearances herein.

The Zohar translates as "[The Book of] Splendor" or "Brightness," and is itself a collection of several books or sections. Its contents span everything from short midrashic statements to mystical teachings, references to religious terminology, assessment of the problems of the infinite, the divine emanations, and others. The main part of the Zohar is "a kabbalistic Midrash on the Torah, mixed with short statements, long expositions, and narratives concerning Simeon b. Yohai and his companions. Some of it consists also of common legends" (Encylopaedia Judaica 1194).

Jewish tradition taught that the Zohar was written in Israel by the Tanna Rabbi Simon Bar Yohai in the second century. "Thirteen years in a cave . . . a father and a son alone . . . and the Zohar took form," goes the traditional tale (Luzzatto xxix). It was believed that Yohai was hiding from the Roman armies in a cave in the mountains, alone with his son, for thirteen years. The lore associated with the Zohar stated that the book remained hidden for a thousand years when, at the end of the 13th century, Rabbi Moses Ben Shem Tov de Leon (of Spain) discovered the manuscript and made it known (Gutwirth 22).

It has since become accepted knowledge that this legend was merely legend. Says Encyclopaedia Judaica: "The Zohar with its various strata was without doubt composed in the years that immediately preceded its publication, since it is impossible to uncover any section that was written before 1270" (1209). The actual author of this work was the Spanish kabbalist Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon, and it is believed that Simon Bar Yohai was simply a pen name taken by Leon in order to make a pretention of antiquity.

Because the Kabbalah -- and, thus, the Zohar also -- is rooted in oral tradition, it is extremely difficult to determine when this mystical Jewish doctrine originated. Although the Zohar was not made public until l290 and, as previously stated, not written until shortly before that time, the stories and teachings contained within had indeed been gestating through oral tradition for centuries.

The Zohar itself draws on a number of literary sources as well as oral ones, including the Babylonian Talmud, the complete Midrash Rabbah, and a number of smaller Midrashim, including the Alphabet of Ben Sira. While the Zohar attempts to conceal its referral to such real literary sources, it contains a vast fictitious library of pseudo-sources which it emphasizes as the source of its information, likely in order to help establish a false antiquity.

Lilith appears in the Zohar a number of times incidentally, but there are four passages in which an aspect of Lilith is extensively drawn upon. Her first Zoharic appearance describes her in the guise for which she first became known, that of a strangler and murderer of children, and also ties together her other facets as well. This is recorded at Zohar I, 19b and reads:


" And God said, Let there be lights . . . " (Genesis 1:14). "Lights" is written defectively, meaning that croup was created for babies. After the illumination of the first light was concealed, a shell was created for the kernal, and this shell spread and produced another shell. When she emerged and ascended and descended, and came to "the tiny countenances," and wished to join herself to them, to take shape within them, and never to leave them. But the Holy One, blessed by He, took her away from there, and brought her down below when He created Adam, in order to regulate this world. When she saw Eve, who was attached to Adam's back, and whose beauty was like that of the realms above, and when she saw her perfect image, she flew from there and wished, as at first, to join herself to "the tiny countenances."

The keepers of the celestial gates did not allow her to approach. The Holy One, blessed be He, upbraided her and dispatched her to the depths of the sea, and she dwelt there until Adam and his wife sinned. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought her out of the depths of the sea, and she rules over all infants -- "the tiny countenances" of mankind -- who deserve to be punished because of the sins of their fathers. She goes to and fro in the world, and comes to the terrestrial Garden of Eden, and sees the Cherubim guarding the gates of the Garden of Eden, and she dwells there by the flaming sword, because she originated from the side of that flame. When the flame turns she flees and goes through the world, finding infants who ought to be punished, and she smiles at them and kills them. This happens when the moon is on the wane, and the light diminishes. And this is the meaning of me'orot (lights). (The Wisdom of the Zohar 540-541).

Like much of the Zohar, this passage is rather difficult to follow for one who is not familiar with Cabalistic works. A discussion of some footnotes to the passage may prove helpful. First, the seemingly odd idea that "lights" was written "defectively" in the place of "croup," stems from the fact that "me'orot," or lights, was written in such a way that it could be read as "me'erat," or curse (540, footnote 49). The identification of the "she" with Lilith is inferred because it is she who is said to asphyxiate babies with the croup (540, footnotes 50, 53). These "tiny countenances" are identified as Cherubim, and Lilith's desire to "join herself to them" is related to the idea that "the powers of 'the other side' constantly desire to assume human form" (540, footnote 54).

The passage "When she saw Eve . . . she flew from there," is elaborated on in commentary as follows: "It was Lilith's intention to associate with Adam, and have intercourse with him, but the sight of Eve's beauty caused her to flee from Adam, and so she tried once more to associated with the Cherubim" (540, footnote 56). In this passage alone, therefore, Lilith is portrayed in all her guises at once: she is a child-slaying demoness, associated with Adam, who wants to seduce him into copulation in order to create demon offspring. This represents the first unification of all the facets of the Lilith legend into one tale.

Lilith's second appearance in the Zohar is at Zohar I 148a-148b, Sitrei Torah. Here she is the "female of Samael," King of the Demons. She is seductive and beautiful and, after seducing men, she kills them. The passage reads:


The secret of secrets: From the strength of the noon-flame of Isaac, from the wine lees, a naked shoot came forth, comprising together male and female, red like a lily, and they spread out on several sides, down several paths. The male is called "Samael," and his female is always included with him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on 'the other side' there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called 'snake,' 'a wife of harlotry,' 'the end of all flesh,' 'the end of days.' Two evil spirits are attached to one another. the male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit.

She dresses herself in finery like an abominable harlot and stands at the corners of streets and highways in order to attract men. When a fool approaches her, she embraces him and kisses him, and mixes her wine lees with snake poison for him. Once he has drunk, he turns aside after her. When she sees that he has turned aside after he from the way of truth, she takes off all the finery that she had put on for the sake of this fool.

This is the finery that she uses to seduce mankind: her hair is long, red like a lily; her face is white and pink; six pendants hang at her ears; her bed is made of Egyptian flax; all the ornaments of the East encircle her neck; her mouth is shaped like a tiny door, beautified with cosmetic; her tongue is sharp like a sword; her words smooth as oil; her lips beautiful, red as a lily, sweetened with all the sweetnesses in the world; she is dressed in purple, and attired in thirty-nine items of finery.

This fool turns aside after her, and drinks from the cup of wine, and commits harlotry with her, completely enamored of her. What does she do? She leaves him asleep on the bed and ascends to the realms above, accuses him, obtains authority, and descends. The fool wakes up, thinking to sport with her as before, but she takes off her finery, and turns into a fierce warrior, facing him in a garment of flaming fire, a vision of dread, terrifying both body and soul, full of horrific eyes, a sharpened sword in his hand with drops of poison suspended and dripping from it. He kills the fool, and throws him into Gehinnom. (The Wisdom of the Zohar 538-539)

While Lilith is not explicitly named in this passage and a modern reader unfamiliar with the Zohar may need to rely on the footnote (35) for this mystery woman's identity, the description makes it clear that Lilith is the obvious reference, and anyone familiar with Cabalistic teachings -- and, therefore, with the Zohar -- would have been able to identify this "female" of Samael (the Devil) as such.

This passage is particularly important because of its association of Lilith with the snake. The footnote explains: "Samael is like the soul and Lilith like the body. Deeds are wrought by Lilith with the power of Samael" (538, footnote 36). The idea that Lilith and Samael, her "husband," are linked in such a way is a concept familiar to Cabalistic teachings. As a footnote to a different passage, it is explained that "the soul was the product of intercourse between male and female in the sefirot, so that it comprised both male and female, for Adam and Eve were originally created joined together" (539, footnote 43).

This joining together of Adam and Eve was not seen as some sort of spiritual link, as may be inferred today, but, rather, it was believed that they were actually one androgynous being. This idea, which seems to be in conflict with other facets of the creation story, is explained as follows: "The female was attached to the side of the male until after Adam named all the animals. Then God cast Adam into a deep slumber, and severed the female from Adam's side. God adorned her like a bride, and then brought the woman to Adam" (Koltuv 8). It is touched on further in the Zohar at Zohar I 34b, which states, "I have found it stated in an old book that this female was none other than the original Lilith who was with him and conceived from him" (from Koltuv 8). While this reference at Zohar I 34b definitely introduces a contradiction between whether the androgynous Adam consisted of Adam and Lilith or Adam and Eve, a reconciliation of these passages is not necessary to this study.

What is necessary is to notice the idea of the male and female being one. This is important in that since "the female of Samael is called 'snake'," and since Samael himself represents the Devil -- Satan -- it makes sense that the snake and Lilith would become combined in both literature and art. This can be seen in a number of artifacts, dating from 1400 onward, where the snake that seduces Eve into eating the forbidden fruit has the face (and hair) of Lilith (see illustrations 4-12). It is highly likely, therefore, that this passage represents the origin of such a unification.

Lilith's next appearance in the Zohar recounts the story of creation with Lilith arising as the first wife of Adam. Told in Zohar III, 19a, the passage reads:


Come and see. From the crevice of the great deep, above, there came a certain female, the spirit of all spirits, and we have already explained that her name was Lilith. And at the very beginning she existed with man. When Adam was created, and his body had been completed, a thousand spirits from the left side gathered together around the body, each one wanted to gain entry to it, but they were unable to, and in the end the Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked them. Adam therefore was lying down, a body without a spirit, and he had a green pallor, and all these spirits were hovering round him. At that moment a cloud descended and drove away all these spirits. Concerning this moment it is written 'And God said, Let the earth bring forth a living soul' (Genesis 1:24). We have already explained that the female became pregnant by the male in the soul of Adam and produced the spirit that was comprised of two sides, as was proper, so that it could be breathed into Adam. This is the meaning of 'and He breathed into his nostrils the breath [or soul] of life, and Adam became a living soul' (Genesis 2:7) - a really living soul. Whoever has doubts about this because he does not know whether it refers to the life below or the life called 'Israel,' or whether it is male or female, should notice that it does not say 'the living soul,' but 'a living soul,' without qualification, which signifies everything. When Adam arose his wife was fastened to his side, and the holy soul that was in him spread to this side and to that, and nourished both sides, because it was comprised of both. Subsequently, the Holy One, blessed be He, split Adam, and prepared his female. This is the meaning of 'And the Lord God constructed the side . . . ' (Gen. 2:20 - 'the side' we have explained before, as it is written 'the side of the tabernacle' (Exodus 26:20). 'And He brought her to Adam' (Gen. 2:22) - attired as a bride for the wedding canopy.

When Lilith saw this she fled, and she is now in the cities of the sea, and she is still intent on injuring mankind. When the Holy One, blessed be He, destroys wicked Rome, and it becomes an eternal desolation, He will bring up Lilith and settle her in the ruins, because it will be desolate forever. This is the meaning of 'Lilith shall repose there, and find her place of rest' (Isaiah 34:14). (The Wisdom of the Zohar 539-540)

The idea of Adam and Eve being joined is further explained, through footnote, in this section. Footnote 48 reads: "'Side in both quotations is Hebrew zela. In Genesis 2:22 it is usually translated 'rib,' but the point to be made here is that Eve was created by splitting Adam and shearing off a whole side which then became Eve" (540). This helps to substantiate the idea that the female half of Adam was indeed Eve, rather than Lilith.

A final reference to Lilith is taken from Zohar III, 76b-77a. While the portion from 76b has little, if nothing, to do with Lilith, it is worth quoting if only for its reference to the sexual relationship between Eve and the snake. It reads:


After the snake had lain with Eve and cast filth upon her, she bore Cain. From here all the generations, the wicked of the world, draw their origin, and to the generation of the demons and the spirits they owe their being with all their characteristics. Therefore the spirits and the demons are half like human beings below and half like angels above. Similarly, when the other spirits were procreated by Adam, they too were of this nature, half from below and half from above. After they had been procreated by Adam, he produced from these spirits daughters who resembled in beauty both the upper and the lower worlds. Therefore it is written, "the sons of God saw the daughters of man that they were fair . . ." (Genesis 6:2), and they all went astray after them.

There was a certain male, who came into the world from the spirit on the side of Cain, and they called him Tuba-cain. And a certain female emerged with him, and human beings go astray after her, and her name is Naamah. From her other spirits and demons came forth, and they are suspended in the air, giving information to others who are below them. This Tubal-cain brought weapons of war into the world. And Naamah makes a roaring noise and cleaves to her forces, and she still survives. And her dwelling is among the breakers of the great sea, and she goes out to mock at human kind, warming herself on them in dreams with human desire, and cleaving to them. She receives this desire but no more, and she becomes pregnant through this desire and brings other kinds of demons into the world. The sons that she bears to mortal men present themselves to the females among mankind and they become pregnant by them and bear spirits.

They all go to Lilith first and she rears them. She goes out into the world in search of babies, and when she sees human babies she attaches herself to them, seeking to kill them, and to absorb the spirits of these human babies. She goes off with this spirit, but there are three holy spirits who are gathered there. They fly in front of her and take the spirit from her and present it to the Holy One, blessed be He. And there they teach the babies in His presence.

It is for this reason that the Torah warns people: "Sanctify yourselves and be holy" (Leviticus 20:7). And it is true that if a man is holy during intercourse he need not be afraid of her, for then the Holy One, blessed be He, will summon the three holy angels that we have mentioned, and they will protect the child and she cannot harm him. This is the meaning of "No evil shall befall you, and no plague shall come near your tent" (Psalm 91:10). Why? Because "He will give His angels charge over you" (Psalm 91:11). And it is written "Because he has loved me, I will deliver him" (Psalm 91:14). But if man is not holy and draws out a spirit from the side of uncleanness, she will come and mock at the child. And if she kills him she will absorb the spirit and will never be separated from it.

You might object and say that the others whom she kills, but whose spirits are taken by the three holy angels who are assembled before her, cannot have been formed from the side of uncleanness. And, if that is so, by what right did she kill them? In these cases, man has not sanctified himself, but neither did he have the intention of defiling or of becoming defiled. Therefore she has the power to control the body but not the spirit. (The Wisdom of the Zohar 542-543)

The seemingly insignificant beginning of this passage brings to light a rather odd notion: the idea that "the snake had lain with Eve" and was the father of Cain. While this would make sense in explaining Cain's wicked actions, it raises an important question: is this snake Samael, is it Lilith, or is it an androgynous assimilation of both Samael and Lilith? The footnote answers this question by explaining that "the snake that lay with Eve was Samael, and he was an angel that had fallen from the upper realms [the Devil]" (542, footnote 67). The fact that Lilith as snake is always oriented toward Eve in the art that postdates the Zohar seems to suggest, however, that -- regardless of the intention of this passage -- some believed that it was Lilith as snake who had a relationship with Eve (note especially illustration #12)

The section of this passage where Lilith is mentioned, however, does not even mention the idea that Lilith was associated with Adam. Instead, it focuses on her malevolence toward infants and her succubae traits, for it explains that if the man is not holy during intercourse, then his child will indeed be taken by Lilith when it is born.

In conclusion, Lilith appears in the work of the Zohar in all of her guises, sometimes individually, but usually all at once. More importantly, all of the passages which make reference to Lilith allow for the possibility that she is indeed all three of the myths rolled into one. It is this idea which took the firmest hold, perhaps because it offered a way to clear up the discrepancies from having various myths or perhaps because the Zohar itself became more popular than any of the preceding works which dared to mention her at length.

Zohar 1:34b

When the letters of the name of Adam, descended below, together in their completeness, the male and the female were found together, and the female was attached to his side, until God cast a deep slumber upon him and he fell asleep. And he lay in the place of the Temple below. And the Holy One, blessed be He, sawed her off him, and adorned her as they adorn a bride, and brought her to him.... In an ancient book I found that this [refers to] the primeval Lilith who was with him and conceived from him, but was not a helpmeet for him.... (Patai81:454)


Zohar 3:19

Come and see: There is a female, a spirit of all spirits, and her name is Lilith, and she was at first with Adam. And in the hour when Adam was created and his body became completed, a thousand spirits from the left [evil] side clung to that body until the Holy One, blessed be He, shouted at them and drove them away. And Adam was lying, a body without a spirit, and his appearance was green, and all those spirits surrounded him. In that hour a cloud descended an pushed away all those spirits. And when Adam stood up, his female was attached to his side. And that holy spirit which was in him spread out to this side and that side, and grew here and there, and thus became complete. Thereafter the Holy One, blessed be He, sawed Adam into two, and made the female. And He brought her to Adam in her perfection like a bride to the canopy. When Lilith saw this, she fled. And she is in the cities of the sea, and she is still trying to harm the sons of the world. (Patai81:455)

Zohar 3:19a

The remedy against Lilith is this: In that hour in which a man copulates with his wife, he should concentrate in his head on the holiness of his Master and say this:
O you who are wrapped in velvet,
You have appeared!
Release, release!
Neither come nor go!
Neither you nor yours!
Go back, go back!
The sea is raging,
Its waves call you,
I hold on to the Holy One,
Wrap myself in the King's holiness.

Then let him cover his head and his wife for one hour, and do thus each time for three days of the receiving. For a grafting which is not received within three days will not be received at all. But in the book which Ashmodai gave to King Solomon it says for thirty days, and it says that after he finished the act he should sprinkle clear water around the couch. (Patai81:463)


Zohar 1:19b

After the primeval light was hidden, a husk was created for the brain, and that husk spread out and brought forth another husk which was Lilith. And when she emerged, she went up and went down towards the little faces, and wanted to attach herself to them and be shaped after them, and did not want to depart from them. But the Holy One, blessed be He, removed her from there and placed her down below. When He created Adam, in order to perfect this world, as soon as Lilith saw Eve affixed to the side of Adam, and saw in them the beauty of the Above, and saw their perfect image, she flew off from there and wanted, as before to attach herself to the little faces. But the guardians of the gates of Above did not Let her. The Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked her, and cast her into the depths of the sea, and she remained dwelling there until Adam and his wife sinned. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought her up from the depths of the sea and gave her power over all those children, the little faces of the sons of man, who are liable to punishment because of the sins of their fathers. And she went and roamed the world. She approached the gates of Paradise on earth, and saw the Cherubim guarding the gates of Paradise, and sat down facing the Flaming Sword, for she originated from that flame.

When that flame revolved, she fled. And she roams in the world, and finds children liable to punishment, and caresses them, and kills them. And all this is because of the diminishing of the moon which reduced its light.... When Cain was born, she could not attach herself to him. But later she approached him and bore spirits and winged demons. For 130 years Adam had intercourse with female spirits, until Naamah came. Because of her beauty the sons of God went astray after her, 'Ussa and 'Azael, and she bore from them, and from her spread evil. spirits and demons in the world.... (Patai81:454f) And she goes and roams the world at night, and makes sport with men and causes them to emit seed. And wherever men are found sleeping alone in a house, they [these spirits] descend upon them and get hold of them and adhere to them and take desire from them and bear from them. And they also afflict them with disease, and the men do not know it. And all this is because of the diminishing of the moon. (Patai81:461)
On this last paragraph, see the Seductress passages

Zohar 3:76b-77a

For 130 years Adam kept separate from his wife and did not beget. After Cain killed Abel, Adam did not want to copulate with his wife. Rabbi Yose said: "From the hour in which death was decreed upon him and upon the whole world, he said 'Why should I beget children for terror?' and instantly separated from his wife." And two female spirits [Lilith and Naamah] would come and copulate with him and bear children. and those whom they bore are the evil spirits of the world who are called the Plagues of Mankind. And they lead the sons of man astray, and dwell in the doorway of the house, and in the cisterns and in the latrines.... But if the holy name Shaddai with supernal crowns is found in the doorway of a man's house, they all flee and go away from there. And we have learned that in the hour in which man descended to the earth in the supernal image, in the image of the Holy One, and the higher and lower beings saw him, they all approached him and proclaimed him king over this world. After the Serpent mounted Eve and injected filth into her, she gave birth to Cain. From thence descended all the wicked generations in the world. And the abode of demons and spirits is from there and from his side. Therefore, all the spirits and demons have one half from man below, and the other half from the angels of the supernal realm. Thereafter Adam begot on those spirits daughters who are the beauty of those above and those below. And all went astray after them. And there was one male who came into the world from the spirit of Cain's side, and they called Tubal-Cain. And a female came forth with him, and the creatures went astray after her, and her name was Naamah. From her issued other spirits and demons. and they hover in the air and tell things to those others found below. And this Tubal-Cain brought weapons of killing into the world. And this Naamah became aroused and adhered to her [evil] side. And to this day she exists, and her abode is among the waves of the great sea. And she comes forth, and makes sport with the sons of man, and becomes hot from them in the dream, in that desire which a man has, and she clings to him, and she takes the desire and from it she conceives and brings forth other kinds [of spirits] into the world. And those children whom she bears from the sons of man come to the women, and they conceive from them and bear spirits. And all of them go to Lilith the Ancient, and she rears them.... (Patai81:456f) And she goes out into the world and seeks her children. And she sees the sons of man and clings to them, in order to kill them, and to become absorbed into the souls of the children of the sons of man, and she goes off with that child. But three holy spirits arrive there and fly before her and take that child from her and place him before the Holy One, blessed be He, and there he studies before Him. Therefore the Tora warns, Be sacred (Lev. 19:2). If a man is holy, he is not harmed by her, for the Holy One, blessed be He, orders those three holy angels whom we have mentioned, and they guard that child, and she cannot harm him. But if a man is not holy, and draws a spirit from the impure side, then she comes and makes sport with that child, and when she kills him she penetrates that soul [which departs from the child] and never leaves it.... (Patai81:466) At times it happens that Naamah goes forth into the world to become hot from the sons of man, and a man finds himself in a connection of lust with her, and he awakens from his sleep and takes hold of his wife and lies with her. And this desire comes from that lust which he had in his dream. Then the child that she begets comes from the side of Naamah, for the man was driven by his lust for her. And when Lilith comes and sees that child, she knows what happened, and she ties herself to him and brings him up like all those other sons of Naamah. And she is with him many times, but does not kill him. This is the man who becomes blemished on every New Moon, for she never gives him up. For month after month, when the moon becomes renewed in the world Lilith comes forth and visits all those whom she brings up, and makes sport with them, and therefore that person is blemished at that time. (Patai81:457f)

Zohar 2:267b

And that spirit which is called Asirta becomes stirred up...and goes to the female who is beneath all females. And she is Lilith the mother of demons. And a man may become stirred up by that evil spirit called Asirta, which attaches himself to that man and ties himself to him permanently. And on every New Moon that spirit of evil appearance becomes stirred up by Lilith, and at time that man suffers harm from the spirit, and falls to the ground and cannot get up, or even dies. (Patai81:462)



Zohar 1:54b-55a

R. Yitzhaq said: From the hour in which Cain killed Abel, Adam separated himself from his wife, [and] two female spirits came and copulated with him, and he begot spirits and demons which roam in the world. And this should not be difficult for you [to understand], for when a man dreams, female spirits come and play with him and get hot from him and thereafter bear [those demons] which are called the Plagues of Mankind. And they turn into a likeness of men, but they have no hair on their head.... And in a similar manner male spirits come to the women of this world who become pregnant from them and give birth to spirits and all of them are called Plagues of Mankind. After 130 years Adam clothed himself in zeal and had union with his wife and begot a son and called his name Seth (Patai81:471)

Zohar 3:69a

One day the companions were walking with Rabbi Shim'on bar Yohai. Rabbi Shim'on said: "We see that all these nations have risen, and Israel is lower than all of them. Why is this? Because the King [God] sent away the Matronit from Him, and took the slave woman [Lilith] in her place. Who is this slave woman? The Alien Crown, whose firstborn the Holy One, blessed be He, killed in Egypt. At first she sat behind the handmill, and now this slave woman inherited the place of her mistress." And Rabbi Shim'on wept and said: "The King without the Matronit is not called king. The King who adhered to the slave woman, to the handmaid of the Matronit, where is his honor? He lost the Matronit and attached Himself to the place which is called slave woman. This slave woman was destined to rule over the Holy Land of below, as the Matronit formerly ruled over it. But the Holy One, blessed be He, will ultimately bring back the Matronit to her place as before. And then, what will be the rejoicing? Say, the rejoicing of the King and the rejoicing of the Matronit. The rejoicing of the King because He will return to her and separate from the slave woman, and the rejoicing of the Matronit, because she will return to couple with the King. (Patai81:468)

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Notes

[1] Shekhinah, the openign to the realm of the sefirot, which are the object of mystical faith. [Matt:227].
[2] The same phrase appears in rabbinic literature to describe Rabbi Akiva's successful journey into the mystical orchard; see Tosefta, Hagigah 2:4; Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:28. [Matt:227].
[3] Here we find another perspective on Adam's sin: he was seduced by demonic and sexual forces; cf. Zohar 1:140b; 2:245a. [Matt:227].
[4] E.g. Lilith. [AH]
[5]. The Zohar associates Haran with haron, "wrath". cf. 1:78b (Sitrei Torah [Matt:227]
[6]. According to Matt::227f, both Isaac and the dregs mentioned here alude to power and judgment overcoming love and mercy. This imbalance, according to the passage, is at the root of the origins of the demonic. [AH]
[7]. Red symbolizes the power of the left and the demonic [Matt:228]
[8]. On Lilith = Serpent = Woman of Whoredom see 'Emeq haMelekh 23c-d. [AH] The Zohar links sin, lust, and death. All these are the works of Lilit acting in consort with Sama'el. The phrase "woman of whoredom" is from Hosea 1:2; "end of all flesh" is from the story of the Flood, Genesis 6:13; cf. Zohar 162b-63b. [Matt:228]
[9]. corresponding to the number of lashes administered by the court according to rabbinic law; seee Deut. 25:3; Mishnah, Makkot 3:10. Lilit's allurements soon turn into punishments. [Matt:228]
[10]. Cf. Talmud Bava Batra 16a, where Satan's itinerary is described: "He descends and leads astray, ascendas and arouses [God's] anger, obtains permission and takes the soul." [Matt:228]
[11] Note the shift from feminine pronouns to masculine. Patai's translation (Patai81:461f) keeps the feminine pronouns throughout. I have not checked the Hebrew, but I suspect that that Matt is following it and Patai has corrected what he perceived to be an error. If Matt is correct, then this is another instance of gender mixture between Lilith and Samael. See my note on Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh 23c-d. Matt simply comments "Lilit becomes Sama'el" (228)[AH]
[12]. He exposed himself to demonic and sexual temptation as part of his journey of transformation. [Matt:228]

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Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh, 102d-103a

The Alien Woman is Lilith, and she is the sweetness of sin and the evil tongue. And from the lips of the Alien Woman honey flows. And although the Impure Female has no hands and feet for copulation, for the feet of the serpent were cut off, nevertheless the Female in her adornments looks as if she had hands and feet. And it is the mystery of her adornments that she can seduce men.... And she leaves the husband of her youth [Samael] and descends and fornicates with men who sleep below in the impurity of spontaneous emission, and from them are born demons and spirits and Lilin, and they are called the Sons of Man. (Patai81:462ff)

Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh 23c-d

This passage is interesting because it is one of the few places where we get a textual connection (however problematic) between Lilith and the Serpent of the Garden of Eden [see also Zohar, Sitre Tora, 1:148a-b]. This connection is perhaps strengthened by Christian iconography (see the pictures collection), but can hardly be regarded as conclusive. While contacts between Jewish and Christian mystical and alchemical specualtion did exist, the pervasiveness of the iconagraphic symbol is such that we would have to posit a much more widely circulated Christian version of the story that we would obtain from elite mystical cross-talk. The other problem with this story is the gender confusion. At first we assume that the Lilith-Serpent's 'seduction' of Eve is intellectual. Then we find out that not only did the Serpent have sexual intercourse with Eve, but that Eve was a virgin at the time and it is that union, specifically the Serpent's semen, that is the etiology of menstruation! Finally, Adam has sexual contact with his wife, but it is while she is still polluted by her menstruation/adultery. That impure act generates magical power for Lilith who is now able to have sexual dominion over Adam as well, bearing demon children from him. There is however one problem. If Lilith is female (she is!) and Lilith is the Serpent, as we are told in this passage ('Woman of Harlotry = Lilith), how can she have intercourse with Eve. This is not simply lesbian sex, in the strictest sense, because she injects semen into Eve. There is at least one parallel passage in which the serpent is identified with Samael and Cain is the result of the union. In this case, Samael being male, the gender problem does not arise. It may be possible to solve the problem in the following text (and coincidentally harmonize it with the Samael version) by reference to the tradition, mentioned above, that Lilith and Samael were at one time, like Adam and Eve, an androgynous pair. This may well be reading more into the text than we should, however, at least from the standpoint of scholarship (homilists may do what they please). It is never-the-less clear from the following that Adam and Eve are not viewed as joined in that fashion at the time the events are transpiring.

And the Serpent, the Woman of Harlotry, incited and seduced Eve through the husks of Light which in itself is holiness. And the Serpent seduced Holy Eve, and enough said for him who understands. An all this ruination came about because Adam the first man coupled with Eve while she was in her menstrual impurity -- this is the filth and the impure seed of the Serpent who mounted Eve before Adam mounted her. Behold, here it is before you: because of the sins of Adam the first man all the things mentioned came into being. For Evil Lilith, when she saw the greatness of his corruption, became strong in her husks, and came to Adam against his will, and became hot from him and bore him many demons and spirits and Lilin. (Patai81:455f)

Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh, 179d-180a

The Lilin multiply like humans, eat and drink and die. And they are from the six earths which lie beneath us. And Lilith came against the will of Adam and became hot[C] from him. And they [the inhabitants of Adama, the second from below of the seven earths] are always sad, full of sorrow and sighs, and there is no joy at all among them. And those cohorts can fly up from there to this world on which we stand, and they become harmful demons. And then they return there and offer prayers to God, the Creator of the world.... (Patai81:469)

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Zechariah 5:5-11 reads:

Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, "Look up and see what this is that is coming out."
I said, "What is it?"
He said, "This is a basket coming out." And he said, "This is their iniquity in all the land." Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! And he said, "This is Wickedness." So he thrust her back into the basket, and pressed the leaden weight down on its mouth.

Then I looked up and saw two women coming forward. The wind was in their wings; they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and sky. Then I said to the angel who talked with me, "Where are they taking the basket?"
He said to me, "To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it; and when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base." [NRSV]

[1] The author identifies the "two women" mentioned by Zechariah with Igrat and Naamah, just as he identifies "Wickedness" with Lilith. [Patai, n. 11]
[2] On BlindDragon as the sexual go-between for Lilith and Samael see Lilith, Samael and BlindDragon"
[3] One of the divine attributes. [Patai, n. 12]

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Kabbala: Lilith as God's Consort

In this striking passage we see Lilith becoming the consort of God! This resulting from God's regular consort, the Matronit, being in exile. While they are apart, the Matronit is abused by the left emanations (bad guys) while Lilith takes her place at God's side. Keep in mind here that 'God' in this context refers to one of the emanations of God, not the absolute (Ein Sof). Of course, it would be tempting to combine this with the 'Adam's first wife' streams of the tradition, leaving us with a story in which Lilith is at first rejected by Adam only to be elevated to be the mate of God himself. I suspect, however, that these stories come from different places and cannot be justifiably combined.

The Alphabet of Ben Sira is the earliest form we know of the Lilith legend familiar to most people (that is, to most people who are familiar with Lilith at all). It is here that we find Lilith as Adam's first wife. Scholars tend to date the Alphabet between the 8th and 10th centuries, CE. Whether the story itself is older, or, if so, how much older is not possible to say. Amulets like the one described in the first paragraph are, of course, much older. The author of the Zohar, R. Moses de Leon, was aware of the Alphabet's version of Lilith, at least according to Gershom Scholem (Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 174), but he also knows other, probably older, Lilith traditions which do not mesh well with this one. No attempt is made, apparently, to harmonize them. For one of these other traditions, and comments on whether the author was familiar with the Alphabet, see Treatise on the Left Emanation. The idea of Eve having a predecessor is also not new to Ben Sira, and can be found in Genesis Rabbah . But those traditions make no mention of Lilith, and, in fact, do not mesh well with Ben Sira's version of the story. [AH]

Soon afterward the young son of the king took ill, Said Nebuchadnezzar, "Heal my son. If you don't, I will kill you." Ben Sira immediately sat down and wrote an amulet with the Holy Name, and he inscribed on it the angels in charge of medicine by their names, forms and images, and by their wings, hands, and feet. Nebuchadnezzar looked at the amulet. "Who are these?"

"The angles who are in charge of medicine: Snvi, Snsvi, and Smnglof. After God created Adam, who was alone, He said, 'It is not good for man to be alone' (Gen. 2:18). He then created a woman for Adam, from the earth, as He had created Adam himself, and called her Lilith. Adam and Lilith began to fight. She said, 'I will not lie below,' and he said, 'I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while am to be in the superior one.' Lilith responded, 'We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.' But they would not listen to one another. When Lilith saw this, she pronounced the Ineffable Name and flew away into the air. Adam stood in prayer before his Creator: 'Sovereign of the universe!' he said, 'the woman you gave me has run away.' At once, the Holy One, blessed be He, sent these three angles to bring her back.

"Said the Holy One to Adam, 'If she agrees to come back, fine. If not she must permit one hundred of her children to die every day.' The angels left God and pursued Lilith, whom they overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the Egyptians were destined to drown. They told her God's word, but she did not wish to return. The angels said, 'We shall drown you in the sea.'

"'Leave me!' she said. 'I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female, for twenty days.'
"When the angels heard Lilith's words, they insisted she go back. But she swore to them by the name of the living and eternal God: 'Whenever I see you or your names or your forms in an amulet, I will have no power over that infant.' She also agreed to have one hundred of her children die every day. Accordingly, every day one hundred demons perish, and for the same reason, we write the angels' names on the amulets of young children. When Lilith sees their names, she remembers her oath, and the child recovers."

Eliezer Segal's Critique of the Alphabet as a Lilith source.

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Yalqut Reubeni, B'reshit 34b

In the beginning the Holy One, blessed be He, created Eve, and she was not flesh but the scum of the earth and its impure sediments, and she was a harmful spirit [i.e., Lilith]. And the Holy One, blessed be He, took her away from Adam and gave him another in her stead. (Patai81:453)


Meir Arama, Sefer Meir T'hillot, p. 91b

And know that the kabbalists have written that the woman from the land of Egypt whom his mother took for Ishmael was the daughter of Kasdiel the Egyptian sorcerer. And when Ishmael divorced her, according to the instructions of his father [Abraham], as it is mentioned in the Pesiqta, she was pregnant. And she bore a daughter, and she was Mahalath daughter of Ishmael. And the mother and the daughter participated in that desert in many sorceries. And a spirit ruled over it, Igratiel by name. And that spirit was attracted to Mahalath, who was very beautiful, until she conceived from him and bore a daughter, and called her name Igrat, after the name of the spirit. And thereafter Mahalath became the wife of Esau, and she left the desert. Not so her daughter Igrat, for she and Naamah and Lilith and Nega' rule over the four tequfot [the two solstices and the two equinoxes]. And they said that Lilith fornicates with all men, and Naamah only with the Gentiles, and Nega' only with Israel, and Igrat is sent out to do harm on the nights preceding the Sabbaths and Wednesdays. And behold, Lilith is the scant measure that is abomination (Mic. 6:10), which Igrat and Naamah carry to the Land of Shinar, as Zechariah (5:11) said[1]. And about this it is said to the fearers of God, neither shall any plague [Nega'] come nigh thy tent (Ps 91:10). (Patai81:459f)

Direct Talmudic References
b. Erubin 18b

Rabbi Jeremia ben Eleazar said, "During those years (after their expulsion from the Garden), in which Adam, the first man, was separated from Eve, he became the father of ghouls and demons and lilin." Rabbi Meir said, "Adam, the first man, being very pious and finding that he had caused death to come into the world, sat fasting for 130 years, and separated himself from his wife for 130 years, and wore fig vines for 130 years. His fathering of evil spirits, referred to here, came as a result of wet dreams.

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