Lilith: Adam's First Wife

Adam, Eve and Lilith

Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia
1949-1950 Volume 1, Page 64

Adam and Eve

In Rabbinical lore and Moslem theology there is a tendency to deify an ideal ancestor. The Rabbinical Adam is a gigantic being reaching from earth to heaven. God caused a sleep to fall on Adam, and removed a portion of every limb. Thus he lost his vast stature, but remained perfect in every part.

His first wife was Lilith; but she fled from him when Eve was created. The happiness of the human pair excited envy among the angels, and the seraph Sammuel tempted them to their fall. According to the Koran, all the angels paid homage to Adam, except Eblic, who, on account of his refusal, was expelled from Paradise. To gratify his revenge, he tempted them to sin.

Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, 2 Volumes
Hendrickson Publishers
Volume 1, page 48

“Divorce in Magic”

An excellent example of the legal nature of magic occurs in certain Aramaic incantation bowls that take the form of a legal divorce writ, a ‘get’, against the demons, usually Lilith. These texts include the opening formula of the Jewish divorce writ, combined with a reference to a rabbit to authorize the procedure, and the identification of the demon Lilith by name. The Lilith, cited as the adulterous wife, was forbidden to return to the house, in accordance with the usual rules of divorce, which applied to the magical as well as the normal situation.

Although there is no exact parallel from ancient Babylonia to an actual magical divorce writ, there is a corpus of magical texts directed against the demon Ardat Lilî, the equivalent of the Aramaic Lilith. In these incantations the Ardat Lilî a dangerous succubus, seeks sexual union with a human victim to compensate for her premature death, without either spouse or child. “The maiden is like a woman who never had intercourse… like a woman who was never deflowered. The maiden is (one who) never experienced sex in her husbandʼs lap, … never peeled off her clothes on her husbandʼs lap, … no nice looking lad ever loosened her (garment) clasp … who had no milk in her breasts, but only bitter liquid comes out. Who never fulfilled (her) sexuality nor satisfied (her) desires in a manʼs lap.” The ritual in these incantations involves making an image of a female and male demon, dressing them, and conducting a marriage ceremony in which the demonic images are said to offer wedding vows to each other: “May you be my wife… May you be my husband.” The sexual imagery is implicit in the accompanying phrase that “he brought her pleasure like the garden fruit… she brought him pleasure like the garden fruit. The result is that the attentions of the demons are directed toward each other and away from possible human companionship.

The descriptions of this demon as the spirit of a young girl who died without spouse or children finds resonance in Jewish midrashic literature. Lilith in Jewish legend was Adamʼs first wife, who was divorced before conceiving children and consequently takes her revenge on the children of Eve; in this role Lilith assumes the characteristics of another Mesopotamian demon, Lamashtu, who attacks babies at childbirth.

1 comment:

  1. Is the image taken from "Civilizations of the Ancient Near East" or "Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia"?

    Thanks for the article, I found it quite useful.