Who was Lilith?

Question
Who was Lilith?
Answer
There is one occurance of this word in Scripture - Isaiah 34:14. In the NSRV, Isaiah 34:14 reads, "Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat-demons shall call to each other; there too Lilith shall repose, and find a place to rest." The Hebrew word is "liyliyth" but is better translated as "owl" or "night-demon."

The Lilith legend is ancient. The first remaining literary mention to Lilith is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh; Gilgamesh and the Huluppu-Tree. She is mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Song for a Sage. In some cultures she was considered a female winged-demon and a female Mesopotamian storm demon associated with the wind; a bearer of disease, illness, and death.

The development of the legends of Lilith occurred later in Judaism. Some Jewish scholars understood Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:21-22 as two separate events. Therefore, the commentators needed a story (midrash) to explain the differences in the Creation accounts. So, they explained that the first woman created was named Lilith (Gen. 1) and the second was named Eve (Gen. 2). In other words, Lilith is a made up myth! The creation of Lilith can be read in the Apocrypha in The Tales of Ben Sira; which is not in the Jewish canon. The Apocrypha is not an inspired book of the Bible. See "Apocrypha Accounts?" below.

This Jewish interpretation of Scripture is merely a "myth." Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-25 describe the same event. Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a broad chronological description of creation and Genesis 2:4-25 a more detailed topical account of a part of creation; essentially the creation of man. There was only one creation. And seeing that Christ is the Creator (John 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2-3) and he mentions both accounts (compare Matt 19:4-5 to Gen 1:27 and 2:24) they describe the same event. See "Are there two accounts of Creation?" below.

The Apostle Paul says, "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness" (1 Tim 4:7; cf. 1 Pet 5:8; 2 Pet 1:16).

Related Topics:

Are there two accounts of Creation?
Apocrypha Accounts?
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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).