Lilith (Hebrew: לִילִית) is a child-hating succubus from Jewish and ancient Mesopotamian mythology. In the possibly satirical Alphabet of Ben Sira, she serves as an explanation for why God created Eve from Adam's ribs instead from clay, like Adam, and why woman's creation from man's ribs is mentioned in Genesis 2 but not in Genesis 1.
In the Alphabet, God created Lilith before Eve to provide companionship for Adam. Unlike how He created Eve, however, God created Lilith from clay, like Adam. Thus, Lilith thought herself as being Adam's equal and refused to lie below him during sex. When neither of them backed down, Lilith evoked God's name and fled.
Adam prayed for God's aid, and God responded by sending three angels to confront Lilith with an ultimatum: either she reunites with Adam or a hundred of her children would die each day. When the three angels confronted Lilith, she refused to return to Adam, pledged to do harm upon human children, and permitted a hundred of her own children to die each day.
God thus created Eve from Adam's ribs in order to serve as Adam's new wife, and Jewish parents would use talismans bearing the name or likeness of the three angels to ward off Lilith and protect their children.
Lilith's status as a female demon and the defiant first wife of Adam has led her to becoming popular among Wiccans, Occultists, and feminists. For instance, Lilith is the name of a Jewish feminist magazine. Return of Kings contributor Oscar Zach writes of Lilith:
According to occult belief, Lilith was Adam’s first wife, the archetype feminist that every man marries and then divorces. She constantly argued with Adam and refused to lie under him during copulation by saying they were “equal.” […] Her refusal to submit to Adam is said to be the first revolt against patriarchy.
- Segal, Eliezer (1995). "Looking for Lilith". people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
- Golbi, Douglas (2013-07-07). "Alphabet of Ben Sira: mocking learning with justice". purple motes. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
- Humm, Alan. "The Story Of Lilith". jewishchristianlit.com. Translated by Bronznick, Norman; Stern, David; Mirsky, Mark Jay. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
- "Mission". Lilith Magazine. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
- Zach, Oscar (2014-05-03). "The Disturbing Relationship Between Feminism And The Occult". Return of Kings. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
- Lilith at JewishChristianLit.com