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Lilith - The First Woman

by Julie O'Hara 2 years ago in religion · updated 10 months ago
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I am the voice of my body. I choose the life I desire to live.

I have always been fascinated with the story of Lilith, the fabled First Woman. Her power, intellect, drive, sexuality, and passion were her destruction and downfall due to the patriarchy that has been such a huge part of the human condition since the dawn of time.

However, there is a modern movement toward viewing Lilith as the strong woman, the independent woman, the brave woman who knew her own mind that she was. Below, I have roughly outlined the “Fable of Lilith.”

This may offend some people, but keep in mind, our collective history is made from stories, fables, and myths.

THE FABLE OF LILITH

According to ancient Jewish folklore, Eve was not the first wife of Adam. He had another wife before her named Lilith, and she was the first wife of Adam.

Lilith was very strong-willed, opinionated, and difficult to deal with. She was also created from the same “dust” as Adam. After God had created the animals on day 6 and then created Adam to name them, Adam became jealous and distraught over the love (basically sex) he saw the animals enjoying and wanted a little of that for himself. So, he implored to God to make him a partner, lover, and helpmate.

God acquiesced making Lilith out of dust, just as he did with Adam. However, according to legend, he did not use “pure” dust to make Lilith as he did with Adam, and used a dust made of sediment and filth.

This resulted in Lilith having what Adam considered to be terrible and unpleasant attributes. She was argumentative, quarrelsome, stubborn, and unwilling to be subservient to his manly needs. However, she was extremely beautiful, and Adam was totally captivated by her beauty. She was seemingly to have been perfect in appearance. Adam was enthralled and enraptured.

However, this rapturous enthrallment did not last long as almost immediately upon emerging into the world, Lilith started quarreling and arguing with Adam. And it seems the biggest conflict this couple had was sex.

Lilith, being strong willed, was extremely offended that Adam insisted that she lay beneath him when they had sexual relations and she had no problem letting Adam know she felt this way. To be blunt, she wanted to be on top, and did not want to be beneath him and serve him. She felt since she was made from dust, as he was, that she was his equal and that she should not be forced to lay beneath him in a lesser position than him.

As to be expected, Adam did not like this. He considered that since he was the man, and therefore the leader, of their union, that Lilith should basically respect his wishes and fall into line. Unfortunately, Adam attempted to make Lilith obey him by using force during intimacy. This turned out to be a big mistake for Adam. Because Lilith was a strong woman and was not going to tolerate being mistreated that way.

When Adam attempted to force Lilith to have sex and allow him to have his way on top of her, the enraged Lilith uttered the magical name of God and she immediately flew off into the skies leaving the Garden of Eden. Adam was both saddened and enraged and once again turned to God complaining that his helpmate and promised lover had forsaken him.

God felt sorry for Adam and sent three of his angels – Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangel to find Lilith and bring her back to Adam. When they found her, they were shocked by what they found. She was discovered in the Red Sea, an area that was filled with hundreds of demons. To make matters worse, Lilith was having sex with these demons and giving birth to hundreds of new demons daily. These demon offspring became known as ‘Lilim” after their mother.

They were also horrified to find that Lilith had flown off into the arms of the Archangel Samael, who is known as the “Angel of Poison,” and is considered the Angel of Death or the Ruler of Demons. As well as becoming Lilith’s partner and lover, he is also believed to be the father of Cain after the Rape of Eve.

The angels, Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangel were disgusted by her behavior and demanded that Lilith return to Adam as his subservient helpmate and lover. If she refused, she would be drowned. They made it clear she would die if she did not do as they wished.

Lilith, however, had an “ace up her sleeve” and reminded the angels they could not threaten her with death when God had entrusted her with the care of all newborn children. God had given Lilith the power over newborn boys until they were eight days old and the power over girls until they were twenty days old.

The angels were mortified when they realized this and began pleading with Lilith to return to no avail. Lilith was not going to return to Adam. He had forced himself upon her, and she found him to be undesirable. However, to make the angels happy, she promised she would not harm any infant that was wearing an angelic amulet with their names inscribed on it. Begrudgingly, the angels agreed and allowed Lilith to stay and wallow in filth and lust with the demons.

Upon the Angel’s failure to bring Lilith back, God decided to step in to try to convince Lilith to return to Adam. If she did not return to Adam, he told her, she would be forced to watch 100 of her children die each day. Again, Lilith was an extremely stubborn woman, and rather than give in the demand that she return to Adam, she became bitter, resentful, and angry. She agreed to accept God’s punishment and allowed 100 of her offspring to die every day.

It is said that therefore she targets newborn infants who do not wear the amulet because she wishes the same sort of pain to be inflicted upon the descendants of Adam and Eve. Legend has it that Lilith will go to these infants in the middle of the night and strangle them. Also, oddly enough, her rage toward children is not limited to Adam and Eve’s descendants, and it is said that if she cannot find an infant to kill, she will rage and kill her own children.

God now realized Lilith was not going to return so he found it necessary to make another partner for Adam. This time God used “pure” dust as well as bones, muscles, tissue, blood, and organs. This was the “first Eve” and was presented to Adam. Unfortunately, Adam felt disgust toward this “first Eve” since he had witnessed her being created. God took this “first Eve” away.

Realizing it was a mistake to allow Adam to watch the creation of the “first Eve”, God waited until Adam had fallen into a deep sleep and took one of Adam’s ribs. He used this rib to fashion the “second Eve” creating her both in his and Adam’s image. He then braided her hair and dressed her with 24 pieces of bridal jewelry.

God presented this new woman “second Eve” to Adam who immediately fell in love/lust and he made wild mad passionate love to her. And you guessed it. Adam was on top, so he was pleased. Unfortunately, their happiness did not last long, as the infamous serpent entered the Garden of Eden and tempted Adam and Even into eating from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Modern day religious historians identify the serpent as being Satan or Lucifer, but some ancient texts hold Lilith responsible for tempting Adam and Eve and having them cast out of God’s favor.

Further, since Lilith had left the Garden of Eden long before Adam and Eve’s fall, it is known that Lilith was not subjected to death which was the punishment for leaving the Garden of Eden. This most likely plays a huge part of her being a demon(ess) or dark goddess by cultures throughout the world.

However, in today’s world, many contemporary Jewish theologians such as Judith Plaskow have incorporated women’s voices and experiences into their own version of Lilith as a symbol of freedom. As the first woman who refused to be dominated by anything or anyone outside of herself. She did not allow herself to be ruled by men. Even though it caused her immense pain and suffering, she did not give up on her convictions.

Lilith embodies the emotional and spiritual aspects of our unconscious or unrealized desires, sensuality, and unbridled sexuality. And like so many women who have embraced their own strengths, sexuality, and desires, she was punished. She was punished for insisting on being treated equally, she was condemned to watch her children die every day.

Who really was Lilith? Why did her strong desire for equal power cause her downfall and destruction? Often Lilith is portrayed to be a dangerous seductress and killer of children. She is seen as an evil demoness, a de facto witch who was thought to cast spells onto men and women who worshipped God.

Over time, the Lilith legend also took on the ramifications that she was not only dangerous due to her hatred of children, but also for the threat she posed towards men. It has been thought that Lilith has been known to attack grown men in their sleep because of her deep hatred of Adam and men in general. Myths attempt to portray Lilith as roaming the night hours searching for male victims and that she would only attack men who slept alone making single men a primary target. She would enter their dreams and cause them to sin/ejaculate by touching them (i.e., wet dreams).

Ancient Rabbis did not take this part of the Lilith legend lightly. They strongly urged men to be on guard encouraging early marriage and avoidance of sleeping alone to protect themselves from the danger of this evil seductress (succubus).

Lilith has also been held responsible for the suffering of women unable to conceive. Although she had no problems having children herself, she attempted to cause pain and suffering in all aspects of conception, childbirth, and childhood.

I prefer not to view Lilith as a victim, a horrible woman, or even a demon. She was strong. She was independent. She was brave. She believed in herself. She was a feminist. She embraced her sexuality and desires. Her story is important.

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religion

About the author

Julie O'Hara

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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