• author
    • Reviving Herstory

    • September 18, 2014 in Bloggers

    The Dark Queen you won’t meet in Sunday School

     

    "Lilith" by John Collier. Public domain image.

    “Lilith” by John Collier. Public domain image.

    What if I told you that everything you think you know about the origin of womankind is wrong? If you were to ask anyone who the first woman was, according to biblical tradition, what would their answer be? Eve, right? Well, what if I told you that Eve was Adam’s second wife? That Adam, in fact, had a little-known first wife? Maybe you’ve come across her in popular culture. As a vampire goddess in True Blood or as the namesake of an influential Jewish feminist magazine. You may even remember her from a wildly popular, woman-centric music festival of the late 1990’s. But no preacher will tell you her tale from the pulpit; no rabbi will sing her praises in synagogue. If you didn’t even know that Adam had a first wife, it’s not your fault. Knowledge is power, and there are those who don’t want you to have the kind of power that comes with knowing this woman’s story.

    Like you, I spent most of my life believing that the first humans of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition were Adam and Eve. Eve ate the apple, everything went to shit, and here we are, quite far from Eden. But when I started studying women’s biblical history, I made a startling discovery. Something so mind-blowing, so empowering, that it will change the way you see womankind from this day forward.

    Before Adam and Eve, there was Adam and Lilith. Unlike Eve, who was formed from Adam’s rib, Lilith was made at the same time and from the same materials as Adam. Because of this, Lilith saw man and woman as equals. Adam, however, disagreed. He saw man as superior, and therefore insisted that Lilith assume the bottom (submissive) position when they had sex. Believing herself equal to Adam, Lilith refused. In fact, she did not just refuse to lie beneath Adam, she refused to live with him if this was going to be the division of power between them. And so she uttered the ineffable name of God, flew out of the Garden of Eden, and started a new life for herself where she was free from male dominance.
     

    “Why should I lie beneath you… when I am your equal, since both of us were created from dust?”

     
    Sadly, all doesn’t end well for Lilith in Adam’s world. Lonely, frustrated Adam complains to God that he no longer has a female companion, so God sends three angels to bring Lilith back. When the angels find her, she refuses to return. Flustered, they threaten her with life as a demon, and promise to kill one hundred of her demon babies every day. In one of the funnier twists of biblical lore, Lilith prefers this punishment to living with Adam. And so she settles in for life as a demoness, and God takes a second stab at the creation of womankind. This time he makes Eve from Adam’s rib so that she knows from the start that woman is inferior to man.

    And what of Lilith? The shit-talking begins and the rumors start flying. She becomes the archetype of the little-loved ex-wife. A scapegoat for the inexplicable wrongs of the world. Who is responsible for infant deaths? Why, Lilith, of course. Nocturnal emissions? That’s Lilith’s doing, too. Insatiable Lilith is even present in the marriage bed, stealing any spilled drops of semen to make her demon babies. She can transform into a snake. She is a winged demoness. She seduces men and steals their sperm. She is a killer of children, and of women in childbirth. She is an irresistible succuba who binds men tight with her long hair and never lets them go. There is even a time when she seduces Adam, giving birth to the plagues of mankind. As recently as the 20th century, Jewish exorcisms were still being performed to exorcise and protect against invasion by Lilith.

     

    "Lady-Lilith" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. CC BY-SA 3.0 courtesy of the Delaware Art Museum, www.delart.org.

    “Lady-Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. CC BY-SA 3.0 courtesy of the Delaware Art Museum, www.delart.org.

    Wait. What are we talking about here? Demons? Sexual dominance? Nocturnal emissions? Magical powers? The first woman could fly? Where does it say this in the Bible? Show me!

    Alright. I know, I know. This story sounds way cooler than anything you learned in Bible Study. And it only gets better.

    Here’s the thing. There are two versions of the creation myth in the Bible. In the first chapter of Genesis, God creates humankind, male and female. In the second chapter, God creates man and then creates woman from man’s rib. That’s right. Two different creation stories, with two different versions of the making of woman. Right there in the Bible.

    At least as far back as 700-1000 C.E., biblical scholars have been trying to resolve the issue of these two disparate creation stories. In the end these scholars concluded that there are two versions of the making of woman because there were two different women created. The second was Eve, and the first was given a name: Lilith.

    But Lilith existed for thousands of years before she was officially named as the first woman. In fact, she existed for thousands of years before the story of Adam and Eve was ever told in the first place.

    Lilith first appeared on the world stage in 2,400 B.C.E. in the Epic of Gilgamesh as a she-demon who visited men by night and bore them ghostly children. Sound familiar? The Sumerian Lilith was a night-demon, a vampire, and a beautiful maiden. Labeled a harlot, she tortured her lovers, giving them neither freedom nor satisfaction. But by 2,000 B.C.E. she had transformed from a lowly she-demon into a full-fledged goddess who tamed wild beasts and ruled by night. By the time Jewish mythology began to take shape, Lilith was already well known to the early Israelites. They borrowed her story from their neighbors and began to make Lilith their own.

     

    "Queen of the Night relief." Public domain image.

    “Queen of the Night relief.” Public domain image.

    Beginning in the 13th century C.E., the Jewish mystical scholars got their hands on Lilith, and she transformed yet again. At nearly 4,000 years old, Lilith was no longer meddling with mere mortals. Oh no. She had risen to far greater heights. No longer a displaced first wife, she became the woman doing the displacing. But she was no mere woman, and her husband was no mortal man.

    Lilith’s rise has been nothing less than epic. After spending thousands of years lurking in the shadows, Lilith rose to rule the universe. She caused God himself to cast aside his wife — the Shekhina — and took her place at God’s side as his evil queen. There she rules to this very day, and there she will remain, at the height of her power, until the messianic era; until the world is without sin.

    While countless Jewish mystics and normative Jews still believe that Lilith will rule the universe alongside God until the end of days, in the 20th and 21st centuries Lilith has transitioned from a mythological figure to a pop culture star. She was commemorated by Goethe, Keats and Shelley before D.G. Rossetti first re-cast her in a positive light. In the 1970’s she emerged as the predominant heroine of the Jewish feminist movement. Is it any wonder that a woman who considered herself equal to man and who fled her marriage because her husband did not consider her equal became a feminist icon? To this day, poets, authors, artists, musicians and creative types of all genders, creeds, races and religions continue to explore and expand upon the story of Lilith, as we have been doing for well over four thousand years.

    And now it’s your turn. How has it changed your view of womankind to learn that the first woman was not the inferior Eve, but the independent Lilith? If all it took to transform Lilith from a demon to an icon was a shift in perspective, how can you improve your perspective of yourself? Are you a harlot or a goddess? Can you be resilient like Lilith, and rise?
     
     
    The RH Blog is a project of Reviving Herstory: Reviving and retelling lost women’s stories. Biblical, historical, and otherwise. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



    • Awesome… going to share the hell out of this. 😀



      • You are just awesome! I should have known such a perspicacious and forward thinking woman would see this as I just have! Yay for Ray’s Momma!



    • I love this and really knew nothing about these facts.



    • Thanks, ladies! Happy to bring a little Lilith to your lives!



    • I loved this article. Lilith is already a huge part of my life as a pagan, but I really love to see other people sharing her story. Thank you for writing this.



    • Missing some important facts here, she does infact date back to the sumerians, but you failed to mention that she was one of, if not the first, fertility goddess, a protector of women and infants. Way to perpetuate the demonizing image of her…


        • Cheddarcheesin

        • September 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm
        • Reply

        You’re misinterpreting this terribly.


      • David Lacy

      • September 18, 2014 at 6:30 pm
      • Reply

      I don’t see this as perpetuating the demonizing image in the slightest. Quite the contrary. The penultimate line is: “If all it took to transform Lilith from a demon to an icon was a shift in perspective, how can you improve your perspective of yourself? Are you a harlot or a goddess?”


      • S Chandler

      • September 18, 2014 at 6:44 pm
      • Reply

      This was so empowering to learn. Thanks!


      • diana up

      • September 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm
      • Reply

      PLS ! Where is all the sory coming from ? which jewish mystics are u talking about ? where is lilith mentioned in the bible ? this story is fantastic, but i need some proof to take it away to some religious friends.. do help ! 🙂


        • Gypsy

        • September 19, 2014 at 9:33 am
        • Reply

        There are creation accounts of two women in Genesis. The first woman is made from dust at
        the same time as Adam. The second is created later from Adam’s side. The creation account of the
        second woman, Eve, comes in Ge 2:21-25. Those passages clearly indicate Eve was created from
        Adam’s side. The first woman’s creation is told three times, once in Ge 1:26-29, again in Ge 2:4-8, and
        briefly recapped in Ge 5:1-2. All three accounts imply both Adam and this woman were created at the
        same time using dust (and muck) from the ground. Although a cursory English reading of the second
        account appears to show this woman missing, there are numerous evidences in the literal Hebrew
        that a woman named Adamah was created with Adam at this time, and that her body was watered by a
        mist.


      • Vittorio

      • September 18, 2014 at 8:36 pm
      • Reply

      I wonder if there is a larger atudy on this.
      For exemple, articles about the simbology of the “Queen of the night relief” monument.
      I get so confused how she can be a demon and a goddess.
      I admire her hollyness but not as a demon.



    • We often demonize what we fear. Hail, Lilith!


      • huey johnson

      • September 19, 2014 at 1:28 am
      • Reply

      Kinda cool, man. Love it


      • David Lacy

      • September 19, 2014 at 7:07 am
      • Reply

      Out of the thousands of people — PER HOUR — reading Sivan’s latest at iPinion, we’ve had a few (literally three) remind us that Lilith’s story is nothing new. Yeah, we know that. Welcome to the real world, where plenty of things are written about and discussed that aren’t the first conversations on those particular topics. She made the story accessible to average readers and she did a splendid job at it.


      • Dan Nicholson

      • September 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm
      • Reply

      you have to see it for as it is said,
      That we are 3 dimension co existing at the same time incubus and succubus are the mind set and traits that exist within society as well as existing in their own realm of time and space. don’t over think it because all is not as it seems. I’m writing my own piece called Social connection. #Socialconnection on facebook I think I’m doing ok connecting how Nephilim and humans, incubus and succubus are all co existing on Earth today, but I hadn’t actually said it.



    • If you knew your KJV, you would see that Lilith is briefly mentioned by name, although not in a favored light. I honor her with a tat on my left bicep.



    • awesome job on relating this in a way everyday people can relate to. I only wish it was published and put out on mainstream publicly, taught in schools, or other open public places. So many people are brainwashed and lulled into the norms of religious teachings that they have no idea what they truly believe. Only what their told to believe. So much information is available on what and where all these religions sprouted from, where they borrowed and adopted their beliefs and changed stories to fit their need. Thanks for sharing this.



    • GOD made Man and Woman to be Companions and have Children. You would be better of realizing that GOD is above being a Sex and has no interest in your Sexual positions preferences. Life is Eternal and you may be whatever Sex you wish. Past life traumas can mess you up, and being an Idiot does,nt help either.


      • Sue

      • September 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm
      • Reply

      No truth to this one! Do not be deceived! Read genesis and know the truth and the truth will set you free!


      • Maya North

      • September 20, 2014 at 1:10 am
      • Reply

      I would far rather be the stubborn, canny, uncrushable Lillith than that whining, puling Eve, who submitted to her arrogant, patriarchal asshat of a husband and took on all the blame he refused to share. Damn right I’m gonna define myself and my destiny and on my own terms, too.


      • Ed palla

      • September 20, 2014 at 3:51 am
      • Reply

      Very informative and educational, thank you.


      • David Lacy

      • September 20, 2014 at 6:41 am
      • Reply

      Mykall & Sue,

      I’m going to mark you down as this wasn’t your cup of tea. 😉



    • I find an interesting parallel… many people with vested interests (read: those who would use religion as a means to control the masses and therefore accumulate wealth and power) went to great lengths to erase the true story of Lilith, much as King Henry VIII and his court did to erase every trace of Ann Boleyn. With all truth removed, they filled in the gaps with stories of their own making, demonizing the woman who dared to defy the patriarchy.
      Hats off to you, Sivan, on shining a light on truth!



    • WOW! WOW! WOW!!! Oh Sivan. This is going to piss a whole lot of stuffy traditionalist types. There are so many holes, so many holes to the Judeo Christian explanation of things…Thank you for being so bold so brave. Let’s Be Lilith. Hear us roar!


      • Irina Zapp

      • September 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm
      • Reply

      Excellent the article! My dad is a Cabbalist, and he always talked about Lilith in a good way, and even went as far as saying to several people, that he was raising his daughters(my sister and I ) to be like Lilith, to walk beside men not behind them like Eva. As so far, it has been that way always for both of us.


      • lilith

      • September 20, 2014 at 11:25 pm
      • Reply

      So much makes sense now. As to which archetype l identify with as well.



    • Now why not explore the Sumerian original of the story of the Garden, a cuneiform tablet concerning Enki and Ninhursag which begins “Pure are the Cities?” In this text the god Enki presents himself to the goddess Uttu as a “gardener” and, after presenting her with cucumbers, apples (yes, apples) and grapes, he seduces her. She gives birth to 8 plants, which Enki promptly consumes, but the meal makes him desperately ill. The mother goddess Ninhursag first curses him – he will not look upon the “eye of life” until he is dead, but then she relents and cures him by creating divine beings from the different parts of his body. When he complains about his ribs, for example, she gives birth to the goddess Ninti “out of them.” The Sumerian word “TI” means “ribs”, hence the name Ninti. “TI” in Sumerian also means “to make live” and translates into Akkadian as “hawwah,” the source of the Hebrew name for Eve. Any of this sound vaguely familiar?



    • That´s why I´m a Lilith too…!


      • Lillith Clark

      • September 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm
      • Reply

      I love my namesake 🙂



    • The original Hebrew speaks of Esh (man) & Esha (women). As far as the first of mankind, Genesis 1:27 says, “So, God created man in Gods own imagine, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female (one person having the attributes of male & female) He created them.” THEN in Genesis 2:7 it goes into detail that the first creation of mankind was made out of the elements of earth and God (basically gave Adam CPR &) breathed life or Gods own spirit of life into Esh. In Genesis 2:21 says, “God caused Esh to sleep deeply and took a rib or a part of his-side (a part of his attribute) and then closed him up.” 22 goes on to say “God took the side of him and built it up and made into Esha (women-Eve).” 23 states she is not beneath Esh (man) but “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh”. Being in a sence one flesh but two bodies.
      The “dark queen” is a myth, a story to divide mankind. We are one. And we will be like the angels neither male or female. The Spirit in us already know this. There is freedom in Truth! The “knowledge” this mythical story brings is death….Don’t touch it! Don’t eat from it! It taste good in your mouth & then makes your stomach BITTER. ^j^



      • So the myth you prefer is “truth” and the one you don’t like “brings death?” That is the kind of thinking that divides mankind.


          • Marie Islington

          • August 10, 2015 at 10:47 am

          There will always be those that prefer their religion’s dogma, their own blind faith, to any other mythology. And yes, these are the kind of people whose thinking does, indeed, foster division in humankind.



    • Amazing article! I just completed a fiction feature film that retells Lilith’s story, called GO IN THE WILDERNESS. It’s available for streaming and download through our website: http://www.gointhewilderness.com
      Power to Lilith! 🙂



    • […] my recent blog post on Lilith went viral here on iPinion, the response was overwhelming: You want to know more about Lilith! One of the most common […]


      • Sue Hunter

      • August 8, 2015 at 8:04 am
      • Reply

      From Wikipedia: Archibald Sayce (1882)[7] considered that Hebrew lilit (or lilith) Hebrew: לילית‎; and the earlier Akkadian: līlītu are from proto-Semitic. Charles Fossey (1902)[8] has this literally translating to “female night being/demon,” although cuneiform inscriptions from Mesopotamia exist where Līlīt and Līlītu refers to disease-bearing wind spirits.[citation needed] Another possibility is association not with “night,” but with “wind,” thus identifying the Akkadian Lil-itu as a loan from the Sumerian lil, “air” — specifically from Ninlil, “lady air,” goddess of the south wind (and wife of Enlil) — and itud, “moon”.[citation needed]



    • This comes from Jewish midrash and it is not known to be authentic, It’s taken from an old legend to explain why there were two verses that didn’t agree about Adam and Eve. There is no more truth in it than anything else. It is just innuendo and a song and a prayer. We simply do not have enough facts.



    • I thought this was an interesting read. However, I was good until the very end with the line regarding eve being inferior. This reeks of the same ole same ole propaganda which sets women up against each other. Just because Eve’s story was different than Lilith’s, doesn’t make her inferior. Furthermore, Eve wasn’t even in the scene yet when all of this supposedly happend, hence she had nothing to do with Lilith’s departure,ect. Let’s just say I walked away with a bitter taste in my mouth.


      • bobakka

      • September 25, 2016 at 5:12 am
      • Reply

      i don’t adam and eve it



    • Hi I have this idea that Lilith was a transexual figure:

      http://mysteriouscontinent.blogspot.cl/2014/11/lilith-as-shemale.html



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