Is Lilith biblical?

 

It is the belief of most Christians that the first humans created by God were Adam and Eve.

 

However there is a belief held by some people including some professing christians that Eve was not in fact Adam’s first wife. Before God created Eve from Adam’s rib he had already created a wife for Adam from the dust just as he had formed Adam from the dust. Her name being Lilith. Unlike Eve who was created after Adam, Lilith was apparently created at the same time as Adam equal and not subordinate  to Adam but the pair argued over who was to be the dominant one. Lilith became stronger and wiser than Adam and Lilith after using God’s name was banished. Adam became lonely and God created Eve. this time not from the dust and not equal. It is alleged that the Catholic Church hid this truth as to allow male dominance in the church.

 

The story is not found in the Bible but proponents of the theory claim that it is alluded to in the book of Genesis. They claim that there are 2 different stories about the creation of Adams wife and that in fact they are indeed 2 separate creations.

 

Lilith having being created along with Adam in Genesis chapter 1

 

Genesis 1- 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


God creating man in his image, he created them male AND Female.

 

In chapter 2 we get Adam being formed before the woman. The woman being formed from the rib of Adam after Adam could not find a help meet for himself.


Genesis 2- 18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

 

Genesis 2- 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

 

 

So there we have it. 2 separate creations of woman Lilith at the same time and Eve later after Adam had been placed in the garden of Eden which was after the creation of the first woman.

 

But is this really the case? The answer is no. When we actually analyze the text and the evidence it simply doesn’t hold up.  

 

While it might at face value without any understanding or actual evaluation of the scriptures appear that there are 2 different creations of woman people who claim this either deliberately which is nothing short of dishonest or through a lack of study miss the fact that in Genesis 2 we are also given the details of the man being formed of the dust.

Genesis 2-  7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

 

A man is also created in Genesis 1 and 2

 

So those who make this claim have a problem. If man and woman were already created in Genesis 1 and the woman in Genesis 2 is a different woman than the woman stated as being created in Genesis 1 then based on the exact same argument the man formed in Genesis 2 must also be a different man than the man created in Genesis 1.

It simply is illogical or disingenuous to claim otherwise.

 

Genesis 2 is simply the retelling of Genesis 1 but in more detail. Genesis 1 is the headline  Genesis 2 simply goes back and tells a more indepth version of the creation of man and woman.

 

Genesis 2- 4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

 

So the Bible doesn’t actually support the theory in the way that some people think that it does.

 

There is one verse in the Bible that is claimed references Lilith directly.

 

Isaiah 34- 14 And desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and goat-demons will call out to each other. There also Liliths will settle, and find for themselves a resting place. ISV

 

The translation liliths is found in very few versions of the Bible. The KJV translates the Hebrew as screech owl

 

Isaiah 34-14 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 NIV uses night creatures

 

Isaiah 34-14 Desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and wild goats will bleat to each other; there the night creatures will also lie down and find for themselves places of rest.

 

And ESV goes with night bird

 

Isaiah 34-14 And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place.

 

The NASB has night monster

 

Isaiah 34-14 The desert creatures will meet with the wolves, The hairy goat also will cry to its kind; Yes, the night monster will settle there And will find herself a resting place.

 

The Hebrew word is

לִּילִ֔ית lî-lîṯ, which actually means owl but has later become to mean some kind of  night demon.

It must be noted even if it does mean night demon it cannot automatically be inferred that this is a reference to the supposed woman of Genesis 1. It could only be claimed that there was a demon called a lilit. There is no reference to any woman and certainly not that this demon had any relationship with Adam. This is all read back into Genesis.

 

So as we see if this is a reference to Lilith then she was considered a demon.

 

Which is exactly what we see from the earliest Hebrew writings where she is mentioned the Babylonian Talmud. Lilith is referenced 4 times within these writings which were not written until the 4th century BC. A rather long time after Genesis had been compiled. She does not exist in Jewish literature before The Babylonian Talmud.

 

Lilith is mentioned 4 times in the BAbylonian Talmud. However there is no connection between her and Adam in any way. She is depicted as a demon and NEVER as Adam’s first wife or having been the first Eve.

 

It was taught in a baraita that the three additional curses are: She grows her hair long like Lilit, a demon; she sits and urinates, like an animal; and serves as a pillow for her husband during relations. Erubin 100b

 

Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith26 its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings. So it was also taught: R. Jose stated, It once happened at Simoni27 that a woman aborted the likeness of Lilith, and when the case came up for a decision before the Sages they ruled that it was a child but that it also had wings

 

Niddah 24b

 

Rabbi Ḥanina said: It is prohibited to sleep alone in a house, and anyone who sleeps alone in a house will be seized by the evil spirit Lilith.

Shabbat 151b

 

Rabba said: I have seen the one called Hurmin, son of Lilith, when he was running on the pinnacles of the wall of the city of Meḥoza, and a horseman was riding an animal below him but was unable to catch up to him. Once, they saddled for him two mules and they stood

 

Bava Batra 73a

 

The earliest attestation of lilith being the first wife of Adam comes from the Alphabet of ben Sira which is dated somewhere between 700 and 1000 AD and most modern scholars believe this to be closer to the latter age.  

 

The writing of which the author  is of unknown is made up of 2 lists of proverbs 22 in Aramaic and 22 in Hebrew which are arranged alphabetically hence the name Alphabet of.  It is largely considered a satirical piece of work.

 

The passage that refers to Lilith is found in the 15th letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

 

Soon afterward the young son of the king took ill. Said Nebuchadnezzar, “Heal my son. If you don’t, I will kill you.” Ben Sira immediately sat down and wrote an amulet with the Holy Name, and he inscribed on it the angels in charge of medicine by their names, forms, and images, and by their wings, hands, and feet. Nebuchadnezzar looked at the amulet. “Who are these?”

 

“The angels who are in charge of medicine: Snvi, Snsvi, and Smnglof. After God created Adam, who was alone, He said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). He then created a woman for Adam, from the earth, as He had created Adam himself, and called her Lilith. Adam and Lilith immediately began to fight. She said, ‘I will not lie below,’ and he said, ‘I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one.’ Lilith responded, ‘We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.’ But they would not listen to one another. When Lilith saw this, she pronounced the Ineffable Name and flew away into the air. Adam stood in prayer before his Creator: ‘Sovereign of the universe!’ he said, ‘the woman you gave me has run away.’ At once, the Holy One, blessed be He, sent these three angels to bring her back.

 

“Said the Holy One to Adam, ‘If she agrees to come back, fine. If not, she must permit one hundred of her children to die every day.’ The angels left God and pursued Lilith, whom they overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the Egyptians were destined to drown. They told her God’s word, but she did not wish to return. The angels said, ‘We shall drown you in the sea.’

 

“‘Leave me!’ she said. ‘I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female, for twenty days.’

 

“When the angels heard Lilith’s words, they insisted she go back. But she swore to them by the name of the living and eternal God: ‘Whenever I see you or your names or your forms in an amulet, I will have no power over that infant.’ She also agreed to have one hundred of her children die every day. Accordingly, every day one hundred demons perish, and for the same reason, we write the angels names on the amulets of young children. When Lilith sees their names, she remembers her oath, and the child recovers.” (Stern and Mirsky, eds. 183- 184)

 

While I certainly am not a Catholic the claim that the Catholic Church removed Lilith from the Bible is complete nonsense. To make this claim there would need to be clear evidence of them doing so. This would require the discovery of a Bible or Hebrew manuscripts that included the story and at least someone from history attesting to the story and or the removal of this story from the Bible….NONE of which exist. The ONLY attestation of this story comes from the Alphabet of ben Sira or works that followed it. The idea of Lilith being anything other than a demon before this time is simply assumption and has no historical evidence whatsoever. There are NO writings from any culture or time period before this writing that claim Lilith was anything other than a demon. NEVER is she mentioned by any culture or time period before this writing as having anything to do with Adam or being the first female. It requires taking a story from a  writing which first appeared during medieval times and inserting it into a scripture that existed some 2000 + years earlier. There is simply no viable reason to do so. Those that claim otherwise do so contrary to the available evidence either through their own desire to keep this belief or through a lack of knowledge.

 

This Lilith is simply an amalgamation of an ancient ANE demon and someone trying to explain the presumed contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 that isn’t actually a contradiction at all.

 

Lilith was NOT the first woman created, Eve was just as the Bible states.

 


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