Biblical Lilith Is A Real Hoot
Despite the current understanding of Lilith as a character closely tied to the famous Biblical figures of Adam and Eve, the fact is the word “Lilith” appears exactly one time in the canonical Bible, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Garden of Eden or a desire of one person or another to be on top. The single reference to Lilith appears in Isaiah 34:14, in a passage describing the destruction that will be found after God lays his judgment on the nation of Edom. It says that thorns and brambles will grow over the city, and its walls will become a home for jackals and owls. It goes on to say that the city will be filled with hyenas and satyrs, and “there too shall Lilith repose.”
This verse is translated in a variety of ways, by people who are varying degrees of willing to include mythological monsters in their Bible translation. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint translates Lilith as onokentauros, which is like a centaur whose horse parts are donkey parts, which to be honest is not very similar to Lilith. Numerous English versions, including the King James Version, translate it as “screech owl,” while more modern translations like the New International Version give the much more vague “night creatures.” A special shout-out, however, should be reserved for the 1922 Moffatt Translation and the 1950 Knox Bible, which both just straight up translate it as “vampires.” So, you know, maybe owls, maybe vampires, maybe a man with donkey legs.
Who Was Lilith In The Bible
The word Lilith means night monster in Hebrew. This gives you an idea of what she meant to people in the ancient world. She was their worst nightmare come true, a demon who would maliciously destroy them if she got the chance.
Painting of Medusa, by Arnold Bocklin. Medusa was a version of Lilith
Where did Lilith come from? Babylonia. She was a demon in the Babylonian-Assyrian belief system Lilit, or Lilu, who morphed into a superstitious idea in rabbinic writings.
Who was Lilith? There were several ideas:
- she was the mother of Adams demonic children, after he had left Eve
- or she may have been Adams first wife, who left him in a fit of fury and tried ever after to do him harm.
Demons In The Gospels
You can see this in certain passages in the Gospels, for example in Luke 10:17-20:
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name! 18 And he said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
or Mark 3:22-23.
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons. 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?
The question is, of course, whether we still have demons in our modern world. And if so, what are they?
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Or Lilith Is The Queen Of Demons
While the story of Lilith as the failed first draft of womanhood is the most commonly known one today, there is a whole separate tradition in which Lilith is simply a demoness, whole hog. In fact, she’s generally regarded as the queen of the demons in many demonologies, frequently married to one of the most powerful demons, usually either Samael or Asmodeus. In some versions there are two or three Liliths usually a Greater and a Lesser Lilith one married to Asmodeus and one married to Samael. One story tells of the two demon lords fighting over the younger Lilith, who is described as being a beautiful maiden as far as her waist and then just fire from the waist down.
In this role she is still considered a murderer of children various stories attribute to her the deaths of Job’s sons and some of Solomon’s children, for example but she also looms large as a succubus figure, a seducer of men. She seduces men at night and causes … you know, dreams … from which she becomes pregnant, only to murder these children. She has dominion over children conceived by candlelight, on days on which it is forbidden to have intercourse, or when the woman is all the way naked, and she can kill these children at any time she wants. If any of these are true, some of y’all might need to check on your kids real quick. If you hear your baby laughing for no reason, it might be because Lilith is tickling them.
Lilith The First Woman
The second major story banned from the bible was the ‘story of Lilith’.
She was the first wife of Adam.
According to the old testament she was created along with Adam as an ‘equal’ to him.
When he wanted her to ‘lay beneath’ him she refused to be subservient and demanded equal status.
She was the first female created and the first ‘feminist’ . So she was given a choice of compliance or banishment.
She chose banishment and was exiled and labeled a demonic entity associated with infanticide , feminism, and demonic sex.
Some things have not changed much over thousands of years.
Man’s Long History Of Misogyny
The story of Eve was invented to replace the story of Lilith.
Eve was portrayed as subservient by the very nature of her being ‘made’ from a rib of Adam.
Thus demonstrating her ‘status’ upon her “creation” so she could never be elevated to equal status , as Lilith was.
Not much more to say about the old testament, most of it could have been excluded as superfluous in my opinion. The other stuff that was excluded was not important for this hub.
The next ”Banned from the bible – the lost history of….” will add more detail and will really get the religious zealots going on another rampage.
Demonology: Who Is Lilith
by Simona | Oct 23, 2017 |
Lilith is mentioned only once in the Bible in Isaiah 34:14, where the Hebrew word is translated as the screech owl.
In the verse, Isaiah prophesizes that Lilith would be one of the demonic nocturnal creatures who would haunt the destroyed kingdom of Edom.
This Hebrew word for the demoness Lilith is thought to be from the root word which stands for night or gloom. In Arabic and Akkadian, this word stands for night as well.
However, it is believed by some researchers that the name Lilith comes from the Sumerian lil which means air, and in some cuneiform inscriptions, the terms lilitu and lilit stand for the disease-bearing wind spirits .
According to the same source, the first time that we find this demon mentioned is at around 3,000 BC, as a class of Sumerian storm spirits called lilitu:
The Lilitu were said to prey upon children and women, and were described as associated with lions, storms, desert, and disease. Early portrayals of lilitu are known as having Zu bird talons for feet and wings. Later accounts depict lilitu as a name for one figure and several spirits. Similar demons from the same class are recorded around this time frame. Lilu, a succubus, Ardat lili , who would come to men in their sleep and beget children from them, and Irdu lili, the succubus counterpart to Ardat lili.
Further quoting from the New World Encyclopedia:
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She Was Adam’s First Wife
Lilith’s role as Adam’s first wife became part of the Jewish tradition when she was mentioned in a midrash, a text that interprets and explains Hebrew scriptures. The midrash elaborated on inconsistencies in the Book of Genesis: In Genesis 1, man and woman are created at the same time, but then Genesis 2 establishes Eve as the product of Adam’s rib. To reconcile these diverging accounts, there must have been another woman in Adam’s life.
Enter: Lilith. She was depicted as Adam’s first wife in the Alphabet of Ben Sira, a work that became part of Jewish tradition sometime around the year 1000 CE. According to this interpretation, their marriage eventually failed and she left, prompting God to create Eve.
Praise Lilith A Chill Demon Cast From Eden For Refusing Missionary Position
I should have known from the first chapter that Bible study wasn’t going to be much fun. You know the deal: Snake tempts Eve, Eve tempts Adam, they both eat an apple and get kicked out of the Garden of Eden and into the world of sin and death. Thanks, womankind.
I was frustrated with the Bible from an early ageas the child of a Catholic mother and someone who has always felt drawn to spirituality, I tried to embrace Catholicism, but I never really felt like it embraced me. Most disappointing was the fact that there were very few female characters in the Bible that I felt I could look up to I remember running a Google search one day when I was around 13 to see if there were any strong, scriptural female role models to whom I could relate, which is how I found Lilith.
Lilith has a curious and complicated history, even as spiritual beings go. If you search her name today, you’ll come up with hundreds of images of scantily clad demon women. She’s been a subject of debate for centuries, and of appreciation and homage in recent yearsbut to quote the famous Vine, who is she?
As a demonic figure strongly associated with darkness and infanticide, Lilith appeared throughout the ancient legends of the Hittites, Egyptians, Israelites, and Greeks. She is mentioned just once in scripture, in Isaiah 34:14, though her name is sometimes translated as “screech owl” or “night hag.”
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Lilith And The Greek Mythology Lamia
When I first read about Lilith, I immediately drew some parallels between her and some of the creatures we see in Greek mythology. When you think of an odious and foul-smelling bird-like creature, the Harpies certainly come to mind but so do the Sirens, who have a more seductive nature.
However, the character who closest resembles and embodies these three signs of Lilith is Lamia. These three stages are almost mirrored in her story.
She begins as a regular woman who falls victim to lust, and as a result, her children are killed as a punishment. Shes then transformed into a monster.
In some tellings, Lamia and the Lamiae are vampiric demons who feed off the blood of young handsome men. There are also versions of this story where instead of young men, she hunts for children, forever seeking revenge for those she had lost.
Much like Lilith, Lamia was intended to be a cautionary talea boogeyman-like figurealthough, her story is much less about rebellion and more so the dangers of lust.
Depictions Of Lilith Outside Of The Bible
The most common description of Lilith, however, is as a demon of the night, seductive and sexual, but also deadly and if that wasnt enough, she also waits until the cover of darkness to steal babies and young children.
This concept can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamian religion, where there once existed a figure known as Lamashtuthe daughter of the sky God Anu. To some, she was an evil goddess, to others a demon, a monster that plagued women during childbirth one that would steal their children, suck out their blood and marrow only to gnaw on the bones that remain.
The mothers themselves were not safe from Lamashtu and neither were their unborn children as she could make women miscarry.
As one of the most terrifying demons in Mesopotamian myth, her actions were not just limited to pregnant women. She would drink the blood and eat the flesh of men she infected ones dreams until only nightmares were left wherever she went she was followed by sickness, disease, and death.
With these stories of Lamashtu, we can see a parallel with creatures such as vampires and succubi.
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How Could You Be Safe From Lilith
People believed you could be safe if you wore a special amulet. It had the names of the three angels, messengers of God, inscribed on it.
This amulet, people believed, would protect you from Lilith and the harm she might do to you or your children in the story of Liliths fury, children were especially likely to be harmed. Lilith knew where to hit where it hurt
Sin, by Franz Stuck. Sin was seen as female and malevolent.
Lilith Just Wanted To Be On Top
The earliest version of what a modern reader would recognize as the Lilith legend comes from the collection of satirical proverbs known as The Alphabet of Ben Sirah, written sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries A.D. The story combines various elements from folk tradition and superstition into a cohesive whole that manages to make belief in the story of Lilith feel more Biblical and less, well, superstitious.
According to Ben Sirah, when God said that it’s not good for man to be alone, he made a woman named Lilith out of the dust, just as he had done Adam, making her his equal. This, for medieval Jews, is where the problem started, because she refused to be subservient to Adam, especially in the bedroom department. Lilith specifically tells Adam that she wants to lie on top when they get all fruitful and multiplicative. Adam says no, because he’s the superior one so he should always both literally and figuratively be on top. Lilith naturally counters that they are equals because they were both made from the earth in God’s image. Adam refuses to compromise, and so Lilith shouts the unspeakable true name of God a curse that often has literally explosive effect in popular legend and flies away. Yes, flies. This is, admittedly, a pretty dramatic way for what is literally the first relationship on Earth to break up, but it’s still less traumatic than, for example, Midsommar.
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Lilith Might Not Be Jewish Originally
The origins of Lilith stretch back long before the medieval traditions that define how we think of her today and even before much of the Hebrew Bible was written. The figure of Lilith seems to have been informed by various Mesopotamian monsters that can be found as far back as the seventh century B.C. One possible reference to a Lilith-like monster can be found in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, in which she is a spirit haunting a tree growing in the garden of the goddess Inanna. Amulets found in Arslan Tash in northwest Syria dating from the seventh century B.C. seem to be invoking protective magic against Lilith as well.
Lilith In Gilgamesh Prologue
In the Gilgamesh prologue, we find one of the earliest mentions of Lilith. In it she is identified as a demoness that has her nest in a tree. Inanna, who planted the tree, came back to it after ten years to look after it, to find out that three creatures have made the tree their habitation.
When Gilgamesh found out about this matter due to Inannas plight, he killed the dragon occupying the tree, and another inhabitant, the Zu bird, fled with its young to the mountains, and Lilith destroyed the nest and escaped to the wilderness .
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The Lilith In Middle Eastern Literature
As an individual Lilith is first known from the Alphabet of Ben Sira, a provocative and often misogynist satirical Hebrew work of the eighth century CE, but the liliths as a category of demons, along with the male lilis, have existed for several thousand years.
The Bible mentions the Lilith only once, as a dweller in waste places , but the characterization of the Lilith or the lili as a seducer or slayer of children has a long pre-history in ancient Babylonian religion. J. A. Scurlock writes, The lilû-demons and their female counterparts the lilitu or ardat lilî-demons were hungry for victims because they had once been human they were the spirits of young men and women who had themselves died young. These demons slipped through windows into peoples houses looking for victims to take the place of husbands and wives whom they themselves never had. Another, related demoness was Lamashtu, who threatened new-born babies and had a disagreeable taste for human flesh and blood. The figures of Lamashtu and the lilû and lilitu demons eventually converged to form one type of evil figure that seduced men and women and attacked children .
The Spirit In The Tree In The Gilgamesh Cycle
Samuel Noah Kramer translated ki-sikil-lil-la-ke as “Lilith” in Tablet XII of the Epic of Gilgamesh dated c.600 BC. Tablet XII is not part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, but is a later Assyrian Akkadian translation of the latter part of the SumerianEpic of Gilgamesh. The ki-sikil-lil-la-ke is associated with a serpent and a zu bird. In Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, a huluppu tree grows in Inanna‘s garden in Uruk, whose wood she plans to use to build a new throne. After ten years of growth, she comes to harvest it and finds a serpent living at its base, a Zu bird raising young in its crown, and that a ki-sikil-lil-la-ke made a house in its trunk. Gilgamesh is said to have killed the snake, and then the zu bird flew away to the mountains with its young, while the ki-sikil-lil-la-ke fearfully destroys its house and runs for the forest. Identification of ki-sikil-lil-la-ke as Lilith is stated in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible . According to a new source from late antiquity, Lilith appears in a Mandaic magic story where she is considered to represent the branches of a tree with other demonic figures that form other parts of the tree, though this may also include multiple “Liliths”.
Suggested translations for the Tablet XII spirit in the tree include ki-sikil as “sacred place”, lil as “spirit”, and lil-la-ke as “water spirit”, but also simply “owl”, given that the lil is building a home in the trunk of the tree.
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