We all are well known with the tale of Adam and Eve. The first man and woman, however a very less among us are aware of the belief that Eve wasn’t the first woman. It was someone else. According to legend, Lilith was Adam’s first wife. Exiled from Eden for her refusal to submit to him, she was known for centuries as a baby-snatching demon. But contemporary feminists and religious scholars insist there’s more to the story.
Lilith has a curious and complicated history, even as spiritual beings go. If you search her name today, you’ll come up with hundreds of images of scantily clad demon women. She’s been a subject of debate for centuries, and of appreciation and homage in recent years.
The Tale relates that God created Lilith from the earth, just as he had created Adam.
When the first man, Adam, saw that he was alone, God made for him a woman like himself, from the earth.God called her name Lilith, and brought her to Adam. They immediately began to quarrel. Adam said: “You lie beneath me.” And Lilith said: “You lie beneath me! We are both equal, for both of us are from the earth.” And they would not listen to one another. As soon as Lilith saw this, she uttered the Divine name and flew up into the air and fled. So, God sent three angels to bring Lilith back, but Lilith didn’t return.
The Lilith of this story confronts both Adam and God: she defies patriarchy, refuses a submissive status,and in the end refuses marriage altogether, preferring to become a demon rather than live under Adam’s authority.
Some believe that Lilith was a demon who used to steal children’s souls at night, which she does out of envy for not being able to birth her own child. All she could birth according to history, are were demons.
However in the modern period, the tale of the put-upon wife who flees to a place of liberation became a celebrated paradigm. Numerous modern Jewish poets and authors, female and male, wrote accounts of Lilith that use old stories to express new ideas. Modern feminists celebrate her bold struggle for independence from Adam. Her name appears as the title of a Jewish women’s magazine and a national literacy program. An annual music festival that donates its profits to battered women’s shelters and breast cancer research institutes is called the Lilith Fair.
In 1976, Lilith Magazine was launched, proudly billing itself as “Independent, Jewish & Frankly Feminist”. In its first issue, Jewish feminist and activist Aviva Cantor Zuckoff wrote an op-ed explaining why a modern magazine would name itself after an ancient demon. “Lilith is a powerful female… By acknowledging Lilith’s revolt and even in telling of her vengeful activities, myth-makers also acknowledge Lilith’s power,” she said. “Even if we accept Lilith’s vengeful activities… we can regard them as having originated in self-defense against male domination and as a consequence of having to fight on alone, century after century, for her independence.
If the first male had only agreed to serve under the first female half of the time (that is all she asked of him) Lilith would have been Eve and the history would have been completely different than what it actually is.