As the first girl to be born in the family, I was named after the first ever woman. Or so I thought until some years ago. Apparently there is a story about Adam’s first girlfriend, when Eve was still a twinkle in Adam’s rib, called Lilith.
I first heard this story about a year ago and was shocked that I had lived so long pretending to know the creation narrative and had never stumbled upon this footnote. According to an article by Dr. Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe of Sweet Briar College it is explained in a 13th century Kabbalah text that:
“At the same time Jehovah created Adam, he created a woman, Lilith, who like Adam was taken from the earth. She was given to Adam as his wife. But there was a dispute between them about a matter that when it came before the judges had to be discussed behind closed doors. She spoke the unspeakable name of Jehovah and vanished.”
In the Alpha Betha of Ben Sira (Alphabetum Siracidis, or Sepher Ben Sira), an anonymous collection of midrashic proverbs probably compiled in the 11th century C.E., it is explained more explicitly that the conflict arose because Adam, as a way of asserting his authority over Lilith, insisted that she lie beneath him during sexual intercourse (23 A-B). Lilith, however, considering herself to be Adam’s equal, refused, and after pronouncing the Ineffable Name (i.e. the magic name of God) flew off into the air.
So apparently, Lilith was not only the first woman, she was also the first feminist and even in the garden of eden they were like “woah lady, you are totally out of line!”, and then she vanished? So Adam was some kind of maffioso that makes people that challenge him disappear? Or was it the Almighty himself? Who knew the holy scriptures were such a thriller to read!
All though according to this article by Ariela Pelaia her disappearance went a bit like this:
She uttered God’s name and flew into the air, leaving Adam alone in the Garden of Eden. God sent three angels after her and commanded them to bring her back to her husband by force if she would not come willingly. But when the angels found her by the Red Sea they were unable to convince her to return and could not force her to obey them. Eventually a strange deal is struck, wherein Lilith promised not to harm newborn children if they are protected by an amulet with the names of the three angels written on it.
So after this unrestrained woman was shown to the exit and demonized in the most literal sense you could possibly think of, Eve was created. But this time not from the same divine play-doh Adam was made of because that would only make her think she had the same rights and inconvenient things like that… So instead, God molded a woman from Adam’s rib to emphasize she was a part of him and equality was out of the question. Much more manageable…
Pretty freaky story, no? I actually feel a lot of sympathy for this Lilith girl. She sounds opinionated, strong and independent. She knows what she wants and likes experimenting with new things.
Shouldn’t a day be dedicated to her or something? A day on which we celebrate the breaking of taboos, unfettered behavior and sexual emancipation. Sounds like a useful day to me!