Adam and Eve...and Lilith?
Adam and Eve…and Lilith
A Contradiction in Terms.
Genesis 1:27- "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." You will notice that god creates man and woman AT THE SAME TIME and this woman’s name in never mentioned.
Let us now examine and consider the second verse, which is the contradictory and yet most well known story of the creation of man and woman.
Genesis 2:21-23-“21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man."
This is the story most are familiar with known as “the rib story”. This woman is then named Eve, however she is NOT the FIRST woman and not the first wife of Adam.
To find this out the name, Jewish scholars engaged in something called Midrash. Midrash, according to the Online Encarta Dictionary/Encyclopedia, is “commentary on Hebrew Bible: a body of Rabbinic literature consisting of commentary on and clarification of biblical texts, first compiled before 500 ad”. If that is not “authoritative” enough for you, according to the Oxford English Dictionary Midrash is, “A Rabbinic homiletic commentary on a text from the Hebrew Scriptures, characterized by non-literal \nterpretation and legendary illustration.”
Why did they use Midrash?
Jewish Rabbis were not stupid. They understood that these two stories contradict each other. Since, Genesis is contained in the first five books of the bible known as “The Torah” and “The Five Books of Moses” and considered the most direct revelation from god to humans; the Rabbis decided this contradiction had an explanation that could get rid of the apparent contradiction. They did this by looking through the Bible (Old Testament) and looking for clues as to name of the first unnamed woman of creation. The reason, ironically enough, why the name of the woman is missing is because earlier Rabbis, those responsible for putting the Torah together didn’t like the story of the first woman, so they left the minimal amount of the story there, namely Gen 1:27. Why didn’t they like this first woman of creation? That will be explained later. First, let us look at what the Rabbis looked at during this Midrash.
Isaiah 34:15 "...The night-demon Lilith, evil and rapacious, will establish permanent quarters. Scavenging carrion birds will breed and brood, infestations of ominous evil." Here is mentioned Lilith, a woman-demon. They link this name up with a woman in Jewish lore known to them at the time but coming down to us through a medieval text known as The Alphabet of Ben Sira, in full text and explained later.
Why is this important?
According to ancient Jewish lore, known from a medieval text, based on lost texts of the same stories, known as The Alphabet of Ben Sira, Lilith is the unnamed wife in Gen 1:27. The story explains why the book was left out of the Pentateuch/Torah, how and why Lilith goes away, and is supposed to explain why babies die early, why men have wet dreams and as a way to demonize women.
The Alphabet of Ben Sira
The Story of Lilith
"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' (Gen. 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 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 am to be in 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."
Explanation for why Lilith is left out of the Torah
Lilith wanted to be equal with Adam, and gives good reason, according to the story. Adam did not want this and would not allow it, so she left him. This is quite feministic. She says, “I will not lie below”, during sex presumably and “We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.” She is actually correct, in the sense that they are equals. This is disturbing to the early Rabbis of the Judaism. In the culture of the day, men we seen as superior to women and so having this idea in the bible was unacceptable, so it was discarded. She then leaves him by uttering the name of god (in Hebrew) and then she magically flies away and never seen again. Oddly, neither god nor his angels can bring her back to Earth. She then becomes a demon of night and roams the Earth causing havoc.
The Aftermath and Conclusion
Then we have the rib story, only after Lilith leaves, and Eve is purposely made out of something less than what Adam and was done so to insure that she would be subservient to Adam, and men in general. Eve is then the second wife of Adam and Lilith the first. Lilith’s story brings up one additional problem, one that may actually be worse than having two contradictory stories of creation that is; god- the omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-perfect, creator of the universe- is NOT perfect because he made a mistake. Not only did god make a mistake, he also did not see it coming (therefore not all knowing) and could not stop Lilith or control her (therefore not all-powerful). This is what one would expect from a “quick fix” explanation of a man-made myth touted by believers as the perfect word of the creator of the universe.
RRS @ MSCD