Who is Lilith?


By BibleAsk Team

Lilith – Mythology

Lilith is a demonic character in Judaic mythology, supposedly the earliest she-demon and the wife of Adam. She is mentioned in Late Antiquity in Mandaean Gnosticism mythology sources from 500 CE onwards. And she is referred to in the Babylonian Talmud (Eruvin 100b, Niddah 24b, Shabbat 151b, Baba Bathra 73a), in the Book of Adam and Eve, and in the Zohar Leviticus 19a as “a hot fiery female who first cohabited with man.”

In Jewish folklore, for example, the satiric Alphabet of Sirach (c. AD 700–1000), Lilith appears as Adam’s first wife, who was created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah). Jewish magical inscriptions on posts and lucky charms from the 6th century AD present her as a female demon. And in the Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q510-511, she first appears in a list of demons.

It is possible that this character came from an old class of female demons (lilû, lilîtu, and (w)ardat lilî) in the ancient Mesopotamian religion, which was discovered in cuneiform transcripts of Sumer, Assyria, and Babylonia.

The legend of Lilith developed extensively during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadah, the Zohar, and Jewish mysticism. For example, in the 11th-century writings of Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, this demon abandoned Adam after she refused to submit to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she had united with the archangel Samael.

In modern times, the concept of Lilith is often used by feminist as model for refusing to yield to male authority. The figure is also used in occultism, fantasy, and horror literature.

The Bible

Lilith is not a Bible character. Some wrongly claim that the verse in Isaiah 34:14 is a reference to her as Adam’s wife but this is not so because Adam is not even mentioned in the context of the chapter. Isaiah 34:14 says, “The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.”  The “screech owl” in Hebrew is Lilith, which means a “wicked demon” in Akkadian.

Others who try to find support for Lilith in the Bible use the creation story in Genesis 1-2 to teach that the woman in Genesis 1 was Lilith, while the woman in Genesis 2 was Eve. But this is not correct for the Bible clearly teaches that Adam didn’t marry a woman by the name Lilith. Instead, we read that Eve was Adam’s first wife (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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