A Demon Goddess Is Born

From The Dead Sea Scrolls
Circa 300BCE to 68CE
And I, the Sage,
declare the grandeur of his radiance
in order to frighten and terrify
all the spirits of the ravaging angels
and the bastard spirits,
demons, Liliths, owls and jackals...
and those who strike unexpectedly
to lead astray the spirit of knowledge....
"Songs of the Sage"
4Q510 frag. 11.4-6a // frag. 10.1f
Translated by Florentino Garcia Martinez
The "aspects" and "attributes" of Lilith predate her by roughly 7000 years (according to William Albright, Theodor Gaster, and others). When one speaks of Lilith one generally speaks of the demon created by the Rabbinical tradition and Jewish folklore, which is relatively recent (eleventh to thirteenth centuries), though contemporary Westernized folklore about Lilith is only about 20 years old. Her actual birth, as she is portrayed in the Rabbinical and Gnostic oral and written tradition, has its roots in several places:

  1. She belongs to the Shedim. The Shedim appear to have been considered divine: they were the gods of the Canaanites whom received sacrifices. (See Deuteronomy 32:17 where the KJV translates "Shedim" to "demons." Also see Psalm 106:37 where "Shedim" becomes "devils.") These gods were demoted from godhood to demonhood by the YHWH cult. They appear to have been chthonic in nature, but no less divine than the Hebrew gods and goddesses.

  2. The Babylonian Goddess Lilitū. During the Captivity the Hebrews acquired Babylonian thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. "Moses" (if he actually lived) and others castigated the Hebrew people for abandoning their traditional "god of our fathers" YHWH, and accepting "strange gods." (Psalms speaks often of these "strange gods.")

  3. Rabbinical Midrashim. Genesis 1 contradicts Genesis 2 in their accounts of Creation (the two accounts are drastically different). Genesis 1:27 shows woman and man being created at the same time; in Genesis 2:22 woman is created from a rib of man. To those who believe the Hebrew Testament is "the inerrant word of YHWH," both accounts must be true. Therefore the woman in Genesis 1 became Lilith (Adam’s first spouse), and the woman in Genesis 2 became Eve. The continuous exegesis on this theme would eventually produce a considerable volume of text: Talmudic, apocryphal, pseudepigraphic, magic text of Nippur (Aramaic), Gnosticism (indirectly), Jewish folklore, poems, plays, paintings, sculpture.
Mandaean Incantation #33
Translation by Yamauchi
I will estrange the husband from his wife
and with my magic I will drive her away
and do her evil...
I will kill the man with desire
and passion....
and she will bear orphans.
Dating the Hebrew Testament's two versions of Genesis and the creation of human beings, one finds several groups of authors, spanning many centuries. The oldest group are known as The Yahwists, dated at 950BCE. The chief author, or instigator, of the Yahwist account is thought to be someone named Ebjathar. The account found in Genesis 2:22 (i.e. Eve from Adam's rib) is the Yahwist account, and is thus the oldest of the written sources of the creation accounts in Genesis. The Yahwists may have taken the account from Babylonian or Sumerian creation myths: this is a near certainty because the later account in Genesis of " Noah's Flood" (Genesis 7) is Sumerian and / or Babylonian Uta-Napishtim is the hero with the ark, and Enlil is the angry God that sends the flood. (Remind Fundamentalist Christians of this when they insist that their version of Creationism being taught in public schools as "fact.")

The Yahwist account of creation is considered "the most patriarchal." Following the Yahwists were the Elohist(s), who lived 200 years later in Northern Israel. They were in turn followed by the Deuteronomist(s) around 620BCE (at the time of King Josiah). In 440BCE the Priestly Codex contributed to the creation account. By the time of Ezra, the four sources, spanning roughly 500 years, was unified into what we know of as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. The Priestly Codex yielded the creation account of male and female humans being created at the same time (Genesis 1:27). (And yes, it appears Moses had little or nothing to do with writing the Torah.)

Lilith’s dual aspects are those of the dark side of Ishtar in one mien and Lamashtū in the other.

The Ishtar aspect has the attributes of beauty, seduction, and allure, used towards destructive ends. This destruction can be deliberate or unconscious, though it is often both. The Ishtar aspect of Lilith is that of "the other woman" and "the uncontrollable flirt." Both result in destroyed marriages and broken homes. There is a very strong sense of selfishness in this aspect of Lilith.

The Lamashtū aspect is dark, sinister, and evil. It is Lilith as the slayer of infants; she who hovers silently and invisible around pregnant women, waiting patiently until she can get at the new born infant. She has the feet of a "Zu bird" (storm petrel) and wings (Babylonischer Talmud, Traktat Erubin 18b): hence one reason for the attribution of "Lilith" being represented in the Burney Relief. There is primatological evidence that suggests a genetic basis for the "baby strangler" in the ape family (of which chimpanzees, gorillas, humans, and orangutans belong). While males in many species systematically kill infants, among the apes there have been incidences where a lone female has systematically killed every infant in the tribe; cannibalism of infants has also been observed. (Demonic Males, Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson.)

Zohar III 227b
Translation by Siegmund Hurwitz
The black bile from the spleen
corresponds to Lilith. She is under the
control of Saturn. She is the melancholy
of the nethermost kingdom of the dead, of
poverty, darkness, weeping, lamentation, and
It would be an understatement to say that Lilith appears to be lacking any redeeming qualities. Indeed, one is hard pressed to find any positive aspects of Lilith (until about the 1980s, in North American culture)

To a Jungian, Lilith represents the unconscious (i.e. demonic), immature anima; she produced malformed children because she is un-formed. Her "children" are her ideas, ideals, hopes, and desires, and all productive creative acts: in a Lilith personality, these "children" are often "strangled at birth," and never grow to fruition. This particular expression of Lilith results in one who is a dreamer but a poor achiever; a procrastinator.

In women, the Lilith archetype wields incredible power over immature men. That application of power can be deliberate or unconscious: marriages get destroyed out of an exercise in power, or a neurotic need for female competition and, some times, male approval. Lilith can fall in love with a married man, and be totally sincere in her affection--- until the married man leaves his spouse. Once the damage is achieved, Lilith moves on to other conquests. In this expression of Lilith, as in any expression of power, self-esteem of the Lilith individual can be positive or negative. I would even suggest that a habit of destroying marriages can be a sign of either a poor self-image or a healthy ego: knowledge of the intent and level of self-awareness of the individual would be required to judge the issue.

Silver Amulet from Irbid
Translation by J.A. Montgomery
The the name of the great god, amen.
Hallelujah, for ever, amen. Peace
for Marian, daughter of S., and the
unborn child in her womb, from the
Lilith of her bridal bed.
In men, the Lilith archetype is expressed two ways: fear and fascination. He is powerless against women in general, and women with the personified Lilith archetype in particular. If his self-esteem is healthy but immature, he may draw a long series of women to him. Each may treat him cruelly and then abandon him. With a poor sense of self, he may get "burned in love" once and vow it will never happen again---- he will avoid surrendering to female power completely. If the Lilith male does get burned once and then loves another woman, he may be obsessed over the former relationship to the determent of latter. A "son of Lilith" with very poor self-image may greatly desire and admire women (fascination), but never risk rejection (fear): he will thus remain alone, immature, and unfulfilled.
Zohar 3:19a
Translation by R. Patai
When the Holy One, blessed be He,
will bring about the destruction of
the wicked Rome, and turn it into a ruin
for all eternity, He will send Lilith
there, and let her dwell in that ruin,
for she is the ruination of the world. And
to this refers the verse,
And there shall repose Lilith and find
her a place of rest
(Isa. 34:14).
Zohar I 20a
Translation by ??
God thereupon said to her, "Go and diminish thyself." She felt humiliated and said "Why should I be as one that veileth herself?" Then god said "Go thy way forth in the footsteps of the flock." Thereupon she diminished herself so as to be head of the lower ranks.

Mirash Alpha Bet Ben Sira
Translation by ??
God formed Lilith the first Woman just as he had formed Adam except that he used filth and impure sediment instead of dust or earth. Adam and Lilith never found peace together. She disagreed with him in many matters, and refused to lie beneath him in sexual intercourse, basing Her claim for equality on the fact that each had been created from earth. When Lilith saw that Adam would overpower Her, She uttered the ineffable word of god and flew up into the air of the world. Eventually, She dwelt in a cave in the desert on the shores of the Red Sea. There She engaged in unbridled promiscuity, consorted with lascivious demons, and gave birth to hundreds of Lilim or demonic babies, daily.