Isaiah 34:14-15, Lilith

Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat-demons shall call to each other; there too Lilith shall repose, and find a place to rest. There shall the owl nest and lay and hatch and brood in its shadow.

//Here is the perfect verse if you enjoy idle speculation. The Hebrew word Lilith in this verse is a hapax legomenon-that is, it occurs just once in the Bible, so its meaning can’t be determined by comparison to other passages. Scholars are forced to interpret its meaning by resorting to related languages, other early translations of the text, or Jewish tradition.

And what is Jewish tradition? Lilith is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons. This isn’t far from the Assyrian word “lilitu,” a nasty female spirit. Jewish folklore tells us Lilith was the first wife of Adam, but Adam’s domineering ways proved to much for her, and she left him for an angel. This paved the way for Adam’s second wife, Eve. The resulting Lilith legend still finds its way into various occult and fantasy settings.

Naturally, tradition is unacceptable. We can’t have a mythical figure meandering around in our Bible. A plethora of Bible interpretations render the word in different ways, from “screech owl” to “night creature” to “night hag” to “night monster,” most of them playing on its similarity to the Hebrew word “laylah,” meaning “night.”

All of which is quite unconvincing. I think this is one of those mysteries of the Bible we’ll never uncover.

(If you’re interested in a fun, tongue-in-cheek introduction to the Lilith of mythology, you might check out this Dubious Disciple book review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/154076051. For obvious reasons, this book, while “religious” of sorts, didn’t quite fit the genre of my blog.)

5 Comments

  1. IF the story of Lilith was true the book of genesis would make sence.

  2. This is all bull

    • Giovanna Winter

      Exactly if lilth was Admas first , God would have made sure it was in Genesis. That would have a major impact.
      I also say it’say it is not real.

  3. I don’t get it if Lilith really left Adam for an angel and angels are said to be holy how comes she allegedly is the 1st vampire

  4. The problem with the folklore argument is that the Jewish tradition of Lilith the woman only dates the the post Christian/Islam era, not ancient Israel. The reference being the 8th century AD text The Alphabet of Ben . So you are being intellectually dishonest if you transfer that back to ancient Israel without proving an unbroken tradition. The Isaiah passage sets Lilit in a list of 8 night animals and so the construction would suggest that an animal spirit rather than a woman is being referred to.

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