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Lilith: First Wife of Adam
By Noctum Child
(Written for Ecclasia)

Burney relief

Lilith has many reputations. She has been called Queen of the Night, Mother of Demons, First Wife of Adam, Vampire, Demoness and Goddess. She has been accused of being a female demon that flies around searching for newborn children either to kidnap or strangle. Also, she is the embodiment of the infamous Succubus who causes nocturnal arousal and ejaculation in men. Supposedly, she has slept with many men and even Satan in an attempt to propagate demon sons. All of these legions are ancient in origin.

The rabbinical myths concerning her as Adam's first wife in fact, seem to predate the Biblical account of Eden, and are more likely tied to a Sumero-Babylonian Goddess named Belit-ili, or Belili. To the Canaanites, Lilith was Baalat, the "Divine Lady." On a tablet from Ur, dated 2000 B.C., Lilith was called Lillake. Her name in Sumerian means "Air." The oldest known term related to Lilith was "Lili" which seems to imply the same definition as our word "spirit." Her name also stood for "luxuriousness" and "wantonness."

The Bible states in Genesis 1:27 "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 state: "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 different creation stories. Genesis II derives from a Sumerian story, while Genesis I is a later creation myth from the Hebrew Priesthood.

Now Lilith was the first wife of Adam, well before the creation of Eve. She had been created along with him by Elohim (Eloah "Goddess" with a male suffix), to be his helper. As it states in the Torah, "Male and Female, He created them." According to legend, Adam married Lilith because he was tired of coupling with animals, a common Middle-Eastern herdsman practice, though the Old Testament states it as a sin (Deuteronomy 27:21). Adam tried to make Lilith lie beneath him during sex as he felt he was superior to her and she should respect him as the other beasts of the field did. She would not meet his demands of male dominance because in her mind she was created as his equal.

Lilith took this concern directly to Yahweh, and used her powers of seduction upon him. She learned his sacred name and spoke it out loud. Thus she was able to fly away from the Garden of Eden and made a new home in a cave by the Red Sea.

While she lived there, she became a lover to demons and produced over 100 babies a day. God had sent three angels to bring her back to Adam. She refused to go. They threatened that God would take her demon children away from her if she did not cooperate. When she still did not return, she was punished accordingly. And, God also gave Adam Eve.

In return for the pain she had suffered, Lilith vowed that she would attack and slay the children of Adam. She swore to kill children, and even their mothers, during childbirth. She also swore that all newborns were in danger of her wrath -- baby girls for twenty days after birth, and baby boys for eight. Not only this, but she vowed to also attack men in their sleep. She would steal their semen to give birth to more demon children, which would replace those which she had lost. She did also promise, however, that if she sees the angel's names on images or amulets she would leave those infants and mothers alone.

These beliefs continued on for centuries. As late as the 18th century, it was common practice to find new mothers and their infants wearing these amulets of protection. Sometimes a magic circle was drawn around the bed with the charm inscribed with the angels names, Adam and Eve, and the words "barring Lilith" or "protect this newborn child from all harm" would be found. Frequently amulets were placed in all four corners and throughout the bedchamber. If a child laughed while sleeping, it was taken as a sign that Lilith was present. Tapping the child on the nose, it was believed, made her go away.

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This page last updated March 18, 2005