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.