This is a re-post of an article on the Legend of Lilith. What does this say about our attitudes toward the magic of women?
The Biblical Myth of Demon Lilith
How the True First Woman to be Created by God Escaped the Fall
Tweet May 21, 2008Steve Williamsholy roots – morguefile
Examining what the myth of the first woman in Creation can teach us about attitudes toward women at the time and how it may demonstrate that feminism has biblical roots.
Reaching beyond the bible to examine the rich array of biblical myths and legends that have largely been forgotten today, we examine the story that delves long before Eve’s existence and how “girl-power” got the true first woman God created expelled from Eden.
Many books have talked about the various attachments of biblical myths that have originated from Jewish Mysticism, including works by renowned scholars such as Robert Graves and Raphael Patai. Few are as compelling as the first woman to be Adam’s bride, the legendary story of Lilith.
Who Was the Demon Lilith?
It is said that when God created Adam he did not have in mind to also form a “help-meet” – a lover – for his creation, however, after Adam implored Him to do so, God, full of compassion for the human, acquiesced.
“God then formed Lilith, the first woman, just as He had formed Adam, except that He used filth and sediment instead of pure dust.” (Excerpt from The Hebrew Myths by Robert Graves and Raphael Patai (New York: Doubleday, 1964), pp 65-69.)
Why Did Lilith Leave the Garden?
Adam was originally pleased with his lover, but Lilith was less impressed by her mate. The tale goes that she refused to lay down for Adam and be the submissive partner, saying that she was also created from Dust and therefore was Adam’s equal. She called upon the magical name of God and rose into the air, flying from the Garden of Eden.
The Immortal Lilith Lives On
She was spared the curse of Death having flown from the Garden long before the Fall, and could not be compelled by God’s angels to return to the Garden. She gave birth to legion after legion of demons and prayed on boys up to the age of eight days (the time at which a boy should be circumcised) and girls up until the twentieth day.
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Lilith’s story does not end there. She reportedly was the one to kill Job’s sons and ruled, for a time, in Sheba. Her origins are murky and likely a melding of several old Hebrew myths, but there are several instances in the bible itself where her name appears:
“Lilith dwells among the desolate ruins in the Edomite Desert.” Isaiah xxxiv. I4-I5
What Can The Reader Take From the Lilith Myth?
What is fascinating about the Lilith tale is that God did not compel her through holy power to return to the Garden. In fact, if Lilith new the special name of God it would appear, according to Jewish Mysticism, that she at least had some kind of power to sway God’s own, for it was common practice to believe that, by knowing the true name of any divinity, be they demon or deity, that you could command their sway. That is not to say that she had power over God, but rather a power that at least bought her protection from God’s destruction at that time.
Moreover, the eventual creation of Eve was done from a rib of Adam (or a vestigial tail, depending on which myth one believes), making Eve a creature derived from man and twice removed from God.
In short, this establishes the male supremacy and hierarchy of many heavily religious communities of the time and, when that fact is pared with the myth of Lilith, the entire story becomes a fascinating commentary on how religious texts reflect societal values of the period, especially in this case, and with reference to the attitudes of that society towards women.