On Lilith

From alt.fan.kali.astarte.inanna

Hello. I have a question. I happen to notice in the dictionary that Lilith
was AdamÌs first wife prior to EveÌs creation. Does anyone have any more
information about this?

The origin of the Lilith story comes from the Talmudic commentary on the
verse in Genesis 1:27 ...male and female he created them... Various
explanations of this are put forth in different midrashim. One was that
until Eve was created, Adam was a hermaphrodite. (which is why the Hebrew
word for face, panim, is plural in form). The relevant story, however, is
that of Lilith, AdamÌs first wife. She refused to have sex with Adam because
he insisted on being on top, and finally used the power of the
Tetragrammaton [1] (the proper pronunciation of the LordÌs holy name) to fly
out of the Garden of Eden. Meanwhile, Eve was created from AdamÌs rib as a
more submissive wife who would stay on the bottom during sex.

When Lilith landed, it was on the shores of the Red Sea. It was here
that she met with the demons' beings who were souls left over from creation.
They were also all male and perfectly willing to be on the bottom, so they
made Lilith their queen. Her husband is named Asmodeus in some folk tales.
There are other folk tales which name her son as well.

According to legend Lilith haunts the wilds and deserted cities. She is
mentioned somewhere in the Wisdom books, I forget where. Proverbs, I think
[2]. Traditionally she'Ìs associated with dangers to pregnant women and
small children and their are traditions associated with specially inscribed
coins which are meant to protect against her.

This is all from memory, so IÌm sure there are a few omissions and/or
inaccuracies in it. The ReaderÌs Encyclopedia has a short article giving
some of the details above. Also worth checking out are Howard SchwartzÌs
collections of Jewish folktales, particularly "LilithÌs Cave".

[1] Misuse of the Name of God is a slander also directed at Jesus in the
Toledoth Yeshu.[AH]

[2] Actually, Isaiah 24:14-15. [AH]

métisse impitoyable

Some say the God created man and woman in His own image on the
Sixth Day, giving them charge over the world, 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 creature in turn, found no satisfaction in the act. He
therefore cried: "Every creature but I has a proper mate!" and
prayed God would remedy this injustice. [1]

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. [2]

Adam and Lilith never found peace together, for when he wished to
lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent position 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; [3] and if she could not destroy a human
infant, because of the angelic amulet, she would spitefully turn
against her own. [4]

Some say that Lilith ruled as queen in Zmargad, and again in
Sheba; and was the demoness who destroyed Job's sons. [5] 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, and one of whom, sleeping
alone, may become their victim. [6]


[1] Divergences between the Creation myths of Genesis I and II,
which allow Lilith to be presumed as Adam's first mate, result
from a careless weaving together of an early Judean 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:18. 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.

[2] Lilith's bargain with the angels has its ritual counterpart in
an apotropaic {1} 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.

[3] '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 BC 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 1 Kings III:16. According to
Isaiah XXXIV:14-15, Lilith dwells among the desolate ruins in the
Edomite Desert where satyrs ("se'ir"), reems {2}, pelicans, owls
{3}, jackals, ostriches, arrow-snakes and kites {4} keep her

[4] 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 AD commentator Hieronymous 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.

[5] 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,'{5} which demands that they should lie
passive and recumbent.

[6] 'Naamah,' 'pleasant,' is explained as meaning that 'the
demoness sang pleasant songs to idols.' 'Zmargad' suggests
'smaragdos,' the semi-precious aquamarine; and may therefore be
her submarine dwelling. A demon named Smaragos occurs in the
_Homeric Epigrams_.

{1} Apotropaic. "Intended to ward off evil."

{2} Reems. Thanks to Diccon Frankborn (dickney@access.digex.net) for the

The reem -- properly, re'em, pronounced roughly "ray-em" -- was the aurochs,
the largest and most dangerous wild ox that ever lived.

{3} The owl is particularly sacred --if that's the right word-- to Lilith. A
Sumerian relief, now popularly available in reproduction, shows her with
owl's feet, standing on the backs of a pair of lions and holding the
Sumerian version of the Ankh in each hand.

{4} Kites. A carrion-bird, related to the vulture.

{5} Now you know where the term comes from!

Love is the law, love under will.

... And the just man rages in the wilds where lions roam.

From daemon Tue Apr 26 10:17:56 1994
Subject: Lilith

Several weeks ago I asked for assistance in compiling a bibliography on
Lilith. I was a little surprised that more people asked for copies of the
bibliography than offered suggestions for titles. That seems to me to
suggest that a copy of the bibliography that I have assembled would be
useful to a number of Ioudaiokoi - indeed several people have asked me to
post the bibliography here.

Unfortunately in the 7-bit format of email the nice formatting (underlined
titles, etc.) is lost. If any readers wish me to send the formatted
bibliography in "hard copy" or as an email attachment (it is a Microsoft
Word document) I will be happy to do so.

Suggestions for additions are, of course, still welcome. I will try to
keep this up to date with such suggestions and make "upgrades" available to
people who write to me later on.

Here's what I have so far:

- - - - - - -

Screech Owls, Night Hags, and Heroines

Lilith - A Working Bibliography

Here are some titles that I have dug out of my files and obtained by asking
colleagues for suggestions. After the bibliography itself I have included
a few comments about the traditions and what some of the books include.

List of References

Bailey, Lloyd R. Biblical Perspectives on Death. Overtures to Biblical
Theology, 5, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979.

Baumgarten, Joseph M. Revue de Qumran (1992):

Bril, Jacques. Lilith, ou, La mere obscure. Paris: Payot, 1981.

Britton, Michele. "Le mythe juif de Lilith [microform]: de la feminite
demoniaque au feminisme." 1988.

Cantor, Aviva. "The Lilith Question." Lilith 1 (1976):

Cantor, A. "The Lilith Question." In On Being a Jewish Feminist: A Reader,
ed. S. Heschel. New York: Schocken Books, 1983.

Cavendish, Richard. The Powers of Evil in Western Religion, Magic, and Folk
Belief. New York: Putnam, 1975.

Corelli, Marie. The Soul of Lilith. New York: Lovell, Coryell & Co., 1892.

Couchaux, Brigitte. "Lilith." In Companion to Literary Myths Heroes and
Archetypes, ed. Pierre Brunel. London: Routledge, 1992.

Edwardes, Allen. The Jewel in the Lotus: A Historical Survey of the Sexual
Culture of the East. New York: Julian Press, 1962.

Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews. Translated by Henrietta Szold,
Paul Radin and Boaz Cohen. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of
America, 1909-1938.

Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.

Gottleib, Rabbi Lynn. "The First Tale." In Taking the Fruit: Modern
Women's Tales of the East, ed. Janes Sprague Zones. 17-21. San Diego:
Woman's Institute for Continuing Jewish Education, 1989.

Gravelaine, Joelle de. Le retour de Lilith: la lune noire. Paris: L'Espace
bleu/Hachette, 1985.

Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. New York: Penguin Books, 1960.

Graves, Robert and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. Garden
City: Doubleday, 1964.

Gustafson, Fred. The Black Madonna. Boston: Sigo Press, 1990.

Heschel, Susannah, ed. On Being a Jewish Feminist: A Reader. New York:
Schocken Books, 1983.

Hurwitz, Siegmund. Lilith, die erste Eva: eine Studie uber dunkle Aspekte
des Wieblichen. Zurich: Daimon Verlag, 1980.

Hurwitz, Siegmund. Lilith, the First Eve: Historical and Psychological
Aspects of the Dark Feminine. Translated by Gela Jacobson. Einsiedeln,
Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 1992.

Isbell, Charles D. Corpus of the Aramaic Incantation Bowls. SBL
Dissertation Series, No. 17, Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1975.

Koltuv, Barbara Black. The Book of Lilith. York Beach, ME: Nicolas-Hays, 1986.

Krappe, A. H. "The Birth of Eve." In Occident and Orient: Gaster
Anniversary Volume, ed. B. Schindler. 312-322. London: Taylor's Foreign
Press, 1936.

McDonald, George. Visionary Novels: Lilith, Phantasies. New York: Noonday
Press, 1954.

Milgrom, J. "Some Second Thoughts About Adam's First Wife." In Genesis 1-3
in the History of Exegesis, ed. G. Robbins. Lewiston, ME: Edwin Mellen,

Naveh, Joseph and Paul Shaked. Amulets and Magic Bowls: Aramaic
Incantations of Late Antiquity. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1985.

Patai, Raphael. Adam ve-Adama [Man and Earth]. Jerusalem: The Hebrew Press
Association, 1941-1942.

Patai, Raphael. The Hebrew Goddess. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1967.

Patai, Raphael. The Hebrew Goddess. Third ed., Wayne State University
Press, 1990.

Plaskow, Judith. "The Coming of Lilith: Toward a Feminist Theology." In
Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion, ed. Judith Plaskow and
Carol Christ. New York: Harper and Row, 1979a.

Plaskow, Judith and Carol Christ. Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in
Religion. New York: Harper and Row, 1979b.

Schwartz, Howard. Lillith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Scot, Reginald. The Discoverie of Witchcraft. New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.

Trachtenberg, Joshua. Jewish Magic and Superstition. New York: Atheneum,

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Holy Kabbalah : A Study Of The Secret Tradition
In Israel As Unfolded By Sons Of The Doctrine For The Benefit And
Consolation Of The Elect Dispersed Through The Lands And Ages Of The
Greater Exile. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1976.

Yassif, Eli. "Pseudo Ben Sira and the 'Wisdom Questions': Tradition in the
Middle Ages." Fabula 23 (1982): 48-63.

Yassif, Eli. Sippurey ben Sira be-yame ha Binayyim [The Tales of Ben Sira
in the Middle Ages]. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1984.

Additional Comments

Rebecca Lesses writes:

One little known source of information on Lilith that I would suggest would
be the Babylonian incantation bowls, which frequently mention both "lilita"
and "lilin" (i.e., male and female liliths) -- not just a single lilith.
You could look at Isbell's "Corpus of the Aramaic Incantation Bowls" and
Naveh and Shaked's two books on Aramaic Incantations of late antiquity
(both published by Magnes Press).

Joseph M. Baumgarten writes:

On Llit (Lilit), it just so happens that she is metioned n (in)
a $Q 4Q text, which led me to re-evaluate the possibly demonic
nature of the seductress in 4Q184 n a paper just published in
Revue de Qumran. I refer there to the long history of this demoness,

David Armstrong, York University writes:

In his book Biblical Perspectives on Death Bailey 1979 notes
that incubus/succubus spirits could cause disease, kill small children
(perhaps an early ref to "crib death"), and have more than just social
intercourse with adults. These demons were called lili (female) and
lilu (male) [page 10-11, I think].

Herb Basser calls attention to the following materials:

sab 151b,eruv 18b and 100b bab bat 73b , nida 24b, num r 16:16
buber's tanh. shelach, and places like zohar 2:267b and 3:119a.

and adds:

Of course Isaiah 34:14 is a good place to begin to start thinking about
lilith. She also exists in the plural-- lilia-- liliths

lilith aka igra-- inhabiter of roofs and other joints made strong
appearances in incantantation bowls until joshua ben perachia divorced her
with a get. she and her 18000 cohorts ride around tractate pesahim and some
parallels in with night shades pulled down having made it out of gen r. but
actually she comes in a number of varieties being a true princess of the
night. But why is she a succubus rather than a succuba or even a scuba?
She can be warded off if you know the right psalms.

Michael Swartz writes:

On Lilith, as you can see, there is an extensive literature, including a
few important articles by Scholem. There is also R. Patai's, The Hebrew
Goddess. A "classic" source is also the Alphabet of ben Sira, edited by
Yasif and translated in Stern and Mirsky's, Rabbinic Fantasies, and
discussed by J. Dan in Ha-Sippur ha-`Ivri. See also the magical bowls from
Nippur in Montgomery, AIT.

Rather ancillary at best, but not irrelevant, is the following
ethnographic or folkloristic study of a certain kind of quasi-dream
experience known in Newfoundland as "hagging", that is, being
beset by a "hag".

Hufford, David.
The terror that comes in the night : an experience-centered
study of supernatural assault traditions / David J. Hufford.
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

xxiv, 278 p. ; 24 cm.
Includes index.
Bibliography: p. 259-265.
Publications of the American Folklore Society. New series ;
v. 7.

LeGrand Cinq-Mars

Boyle, Darl MacLeod, Where Lilith Dances. New Haven:Yale, 1971 (1921)

Chadourne, Marc. Dieu crea d'abord Lilith. Paris: Fayard, 1938.

Dijkstra, Bram. Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in
Fin-de-JSiecle Culture. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1986.

Gourmont, Remy de. Lilith suivi de Theodat. Paris: Societe du Mercure
de France, 1906.

Paglia, Camille. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to
Emily Dickinson. New York: Vintage, 1991.

Rigney, Barbara Hill. Lilith's Daughters: Women and Religion in
Contemporary Fiction. Madison: U of Wisconsin, 1982.

Hope these are helpful.
Edith Humphrey, McGill and Carleton Universities.

Thomas Longstaff (t_longst@COLBY.EDU)

1) Howard Schwartz (author of Lilith's Cave), Mermaid and Siren: The Polar
Roles of Lilith and Eve in Jewish Lore. The Sagarin Review, Vol. 2, 1992,
pp. 105-116.

2) The Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, Friday 22/4/1994 carries a
brief review of a forthcoming book:
Nitzah Abarbanel, Eve and Lilith [*Havah ve-Lilit*], Bene-Brak: Bar-Ilan
University Press. The author analyses the emergence of these two feminine
types in patriarchal culture using both Freudian and Jungian theories.

Hope this helps. I would very much like to receive a copy of your
completed bibliography whenever it is available. I am not a regular
participant in the Ioudious list because of lack of time. So I would
appreciate your sending any material or reply directly to me.

Marc Bregman
Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem