by merry todd
“Lilith, whose name means ‘screech owl,’ became the center of many Hebrew legends…” (Pollack 128)
Lilith was known as the wife of Adam. Adam was created from dirt and Lilith was created from “filth and excrement”(Monahan 78). In the first version of Genesis, in the Bible, it is stated “Male and Female he created them,” however; later on the Bible seems to change its mind when it claims that the female was created from within the male. Contrary to this, Lilith was created simultaneously with Adam. When Adam suggested intercourse, Lilith willingly agreed. Adam told Lilith to lie down, that he would be on the top. Lilith, however, felt that she and Adam had been created as equals and therefore should mate as equals. Because of her apparent misconception, Lilith was then banned and replaced by Eve in the Garden of Eden. God created Eve from within Adam thus making her subservient to him.
When Lilith was banned from the Garden of Eden, she demanded that the Lord give her wings and she flew to the western deserts where she had orgies with elemental spirits and demons. Some say she produced demon children by the score. Another variation of the story says she was cursed with sterility. Going along with the idea that Lilith did produce scores of demon children, the story tells of Lilith’s revenge on Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, Lilith would come to Adam each night and have intercourse with him. She would use his “emissions” to form demon babies.
Lilith was also a threat to children. She had power over them in their first week, the first of each month, and over the children of the unmarried. Lilith usually stole children at night. She liked her victims smiling, so before she strangled the babes she would tickle their feet. If a mother saw her baby smiling or laughing while sleeping, she would tap the child’s nose thee times and say, “away Lilith, you have no place here” (Monahan 79). Mother’s also feared jackals, owls, kites, pelicans, wolves, and wildcats, which were all disguises favored by Lilith.