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Related: demon - Eve - Adam

The passage in Genesis 1:27 — "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (before describing a mate being made of Adam's rib and being called Eve in Genesis 2:22) is sometimes believed to be an indication that Adam had a wife before Eve.

A medieval reference to Lilith as the first wife of Adam is the anonymous The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, written sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries. Lilith is described as refusing to assume a subservient role to Adam during sexual intercourse and so deserting him ("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 promptly uttered the name of God, took to the air, and left the Garden, settling on the Red Sea coast. As a side note, this places Lilith in a unique position, for she left the Garden of her own accord and before the Fall of Man, and so is untouched by the Tree of Knowledge. However, according to legend, she also knows the "true name of God".

The Book of Lilith - Barbara Black Koltuv [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]


The first clear reference to Lilith as the first wife of Adam is in an anonymous medieval work called 'The Alphabet of Ben-Sira'. In it, Lilith is described as refusing to assume a subservient role to Adam during sexual intercourse and eventually deserted Adam. Lilith then went on to mate with Asmodai and various other demons she found beside the Red Sea, creating countless lilin. Adam urged God to bring Lilith back, so three angels were despatched after her. When the angels, Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, made threats to kill one hundred of Lilith's demonic children for each day she stayed away, she countered that she would prey eternally upon the descendents of Adam and Eve, who could be saved only by invoking the names of the three angels, and did not return to Adam.

This story has similarities with the original Mesopotamian myth, where Lilith killed children, and so the practice of protecting children by placing Lilith amulets around their necks with the names of the three angels became a custom of many Jewish communities in medieval times.

This legend was mistakenly included in an English language book of rabbinic works (the author seemingly assumed that any ancient book read in the Jewish community must have been a rabbinic work). However, contrary to popular belief, the 'The Alphabet of Ben-Sira' is not a Jewish religious text; rather, it is a collection of perverse stories about heroes of the Bible and Talmud. Modern historians are unsure of its original purpose, although it may have been a collection of risqué folk-tales, a refutation of Christians, Karaites or other separatist movement, or simply an anti-Jewish satire. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith, Apr 2004

Lilith Bibliography

The original version of this bibliography was put together by Thomas R. W. Longstaff (t_longst@COLBY.EDU), drawing partly from responses to a query on the ioudaios discussion group (ioudaios-l@lehigh.edu). I have formatted it for the Web. In addition to bibliography, some of the original respondants also sent comments and suggestions which I have included. I have also merged in Alejandro Gonzalez's bibliography. In addition to these sources, I have added a good deal of material myself over the last year or so. If you don't see something that you think should be here, please bring it to my attention.[AH] --http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Topics/Lilith/bib.html

Lilith (movie)

Lilith is a about a mysterious young woman in an elite sanitarium in New England, who seems to weave a magical spell all around her. A restless, but sincere young man with an equally obscure past is seemingly drawn into her web. As time passes, their relationship deepens and intensifies, and the differences between them begin to blur, leading to a shocking, but oddly logical conclusion. --Rhea Worrell via imdb.com, accessed Apr 2004

Tagline: Before Eve there was Evil... and her name was Lilith! --Lilith (1964) - Robert Rossen

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