You could have heard Lilith is a model for Oppressed Womanhood. You could have heard she's a succubus who gives men wet dreams. You could have heard that she's a demoness who murders babies. You could have heard that she's a goddess, the wife of Death.
On the one hand there are all these (and likely other) interpretations. On the other hand there are the legends themselves, which are also quite varied, from Jewish folklore. Let's start with a paraphrase of the most familiar legend, which dates to medieval times, from the controversial work known as the Alphabet of Ben Sirah, including a few of our own interjections:
When God created Adam, he was lonely, so God created Lilith from the same dust from which Adam was molded. But they quarrelled; Adam [the proverbial domineering male] wished to rule over Lilith. But Lilith [a militant feminist] was also proud and willful, claiming equality with Adam because she was created from the same dust. She left Adam and fled the Garden. God sent three angels in pursuit of Lilith. They caught her and ordered her to return to Adam. She refused, and said that she would henceforth weaken and kill little children, infants and babes. The angels overpowered her, and she promised that if the mother hung an amulet over the baby bearing the names of the three angels, she would stay away from that home. So they let her go, and God created Eve to be Adam's mate [created from Adam's rib, so that she couldn't claim equality]. And ever since, Lilith flies around the world, howling her hatred of mankind through the night, and vowing vengeance because of the shabby treatment she had received from Adam. She is also called "The Howling One."You can see how this legend could lead to various interpretations, depending on whether you think she is noble (in rebelling against male domination) or evil (in vowing vengeance against innocent babies.)
But where does this legend come from? The author of Ben Sirah basically wove together three separate threads from centuries earlier works, because Lilith is a very ancient legend.
Let's start with the Bible as primary source material. Genesis of course mentions Adam and Eve, but -- please note -- doesn't mention Lilith. The idea of Lilith as a "prior first woman" before Eve arises much later. The only reference to Lilith in the Bible (Old or New Testaments) is Isaiah 34:14, probably written around 540 BC; it's a description of desolation, jackals and ravens among nettles and briers, etc.: "Goat demons shall greet each other; there too the lilith will repose." Most of the other creatures referenced in this poetry cannot be positively identified. The KJV, following the Vulgate, translates "the lilith" as "the night demon," confusing the lili- with the Hebrew word for night. But presumably Isaiah meant some sort of demon.
The notion of a lilith as a demon is probably Assyrian (say around 700 BC), incorporated into Isaiah by way of the ancient Israelite contacts with the mythologies of Babylonia and Chaldea. The Assyrians had three female demons, Lilit, Lilu,and Ardat Lilit. There's little doubt that the Hebrew lilith-demon mentioned in Isaiah was a folkloric adaptation of the Assyrian demons.Several hundred years after Isaiah, we find Talmudic writings that describe Lilith (now as a named demon, rather than a broad category) as an irresistibly seductive she-demon with long hair (presumably worn loose, a sure sign of wantonness) and wings. Terey wants us to be sure to say that she's a succubus. She seduces unwary men, then savagely kills the children she bears for them.
From this, she becomes the demon responsible for the death of babies. In ancient times, one needed to protect against such demons; today, we blame other factors for the death of infants. To guard against Lilith, superstitious Jews would hang four amulets, one on the wall of each room of a newborn babe, with the inscription "Lilith - abi!" ["Lilith - begone!"] which some think is the origin, much later, of the English word "lullaby."
OK, that's legend one: a she-demon who kills babies.
Legend two: early rabbinic writings about Adam and Eve. There are rabbinic midrashim, stories filling in the gaps in the text, that tell of Adam and Eve after they leave the garden. Adam is angry with Eve for causing so much trouble, so he leaves her, and is beset by demons (called "lilith"; the name is still a generic category of demon). A particular lilith called Penzai seduces Adam and becomes pregnant. Got it? So that legend associates a lilith with Adam.
Legend three: an early midrash that puzzles about why Eve is created from a rib of Adam, why not created equally with him? The midrash suggests the creation of a prior "first woman" (unnamed) who doesn't work out as a fitting companion for Adam.
The midrash (Midrash ha-Gadol, Gen. Rabbah 4:22) relates that Naamah was the most beautiful woman in the world, so much so that she caused the ministering angels to fall prey to her loveliness for they thought she was one of them.
As it is said (Gen. 6:2): “The sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of men were.”
The late Midrash and the Zohar developed the figure of Naamah as a seducer of men and even of demons.
To make things more complicated, it is said that there are counter-parts or opposites of some of those mentioned in the bible 1 evil 1 good,as you will see as you read through this information, however the more comparisons, the more they sound like the same person.. so let’s keep an open mind & continue…..
According to tradition, Naamah was created directly by God, as was Eve and Lilith.
Naamah and Lilith lived in the Red Sea coast where they were expelled by God.
Naamah appearance is similar to Lilith,
Naamah was the wife of Shamadon and the union with this fiend produced Asmodeus (Ashmedai), the king of the demons.
Also according to Zohar, Naamah corrupted Uzza and Azael.
Naamah is often named as the mother of the demon Asmodai, the consort of the Lesser Lilith (Lilith and Samael’s daughter).
but Lilith being more sensual, young and beautiful and as one that corrupted the fallen angels and their leader Semyaza.
Naamah is generally identified with the daughter of Lamech.
However THIS Naamah must not to be confused with Lamech’s daughter Naamah,
sister of Tubal Cain, a descendant of Cain.(Genesis 4:22)**here is one of those identical comparisons**
This Naamah is a counterpart to the one who appears in Genesis, and she is regarded,**here is one of the identical comparisons** and like her mortal counterpart, as a patron of divination and music.
In Gnostic Kabbalah, she is called Nahemah and is the qliphah corresponding to the sephirah Malkuth. Like Lilith, she takes many forms: Naamah is a demon,
Her fellow succubi are Lilith, Eisheth Zenunim, and Agrat Bat Mahlat.
She, along with Lilith, causes epilepsy in children.
They are the original four queens of the demons.
According to Zohar she is a succubus and fallen angel, and is generally regarded as an aspect or relation of Lilith.
an angel (albeit of prostitution),
and a primordial goddess.
The Kabbalah describes Naamah as being similar to Lilith.
Like her sister demon, Naamah seduces men and strangles sleeping babies.
(She’s blamed for SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as crib or cot death.)
Like Lilith, she can be a powerful ally to those she perceives as her constituents.
one of the four mates/wives of the archangel Samael,Naamah, ancient and mysterious spirit, is a sometime ally, sometime rival, sometime traveling companion of Lilith.I've spoke to each of them in my Qliphahic work and do not feel they are the same Goddess AT All,much different in appearance and voice.In the Talmudic and Kabbalistic traditions Mahalath and Igrat resurface as two of the four queens of the demons who are Lilith, Nega(Igrat), Mahalath and Naamah. It is not clear why Mahalath and Igrat are included in this group and the stories about them are often conflicting but they contain enough similarities to piece together their exploits.
The Queens ruled over the four Tequfot or the equinoxes and solstices. It isn't clear which Tequot (meaning orbit/course) is assigned to which queen, but certain details and attributes may point the direction and will be discussed later. The Tequfot are:
TEVET Winter Solstice
NISAN Vernal Equinox
TAMMUZ Summer Solstice
TISHRI Autumnal Equinox
Each Queen was assigned regions by Samael, the Great Demon, king over all demons (the four Queens being referred to as Samael's concubines). These regional assignments were:
LILITH Kingdom of Damascus,House Rimmon,Rome
NAAMATH Kingdom of Tyre (opposite the land of Israel)
MAHALATH Kingdoms of Granata(Granada)& Ishmael, Egypt
IGRAT Kingdoms of Malta (also called Rhodos) Also bedeviling responsibilities were assigned to each queen:
LILITH fornicates with all men and strangles children because she can not bear her own
NAAMATH fornicates only with gentiles
MAHALATH sets out to do harm on the nights preceding the Sabbath and Wednesdays
IGRAT fornicates only with Israel ("12 tribes")
Lilith is considered to be the wife of Samael; and Naamath is often called Lilith the Maid or Lesser Lilith and is Elder Lilith's granddaughter. Igrat is Mahalath's daughter. These stories suggest a succession of women in two separate familes who ruled over the orbits and courses of the heavens and over a large portion of the lands that today we call the Iran.
Returning to the desert Mahalath assumes command of 478 legions of demons including some who flew through the air. The size of her 'military' compliment is determined by the gematria of her name 478.(Lilith commanded 480 legions of demons.)With her legions she harrassed and did harm to the tent people (presumably Hebrews) on Wednesdays and nights preceding Sabbaths,and instructed her "destroying angels to go forth, and each had permission to wreck distruction independantly."
Mahalath had direct contact with the desert peoples in this Talmudic writing:
On one occasion she(Mahalath) met R. Hanina b. Dosa [and] said to him, 'Had they not made an announcement concerning you in Heaven, "Take heed of Hanina and his learning," I would have put you in danger.' 'If I am of account in Heaven,' replied he, 'I order you never to pass through settled regions.' 'I beg you,' she pleaded 'leave me a little room.'Copyright 2015 Vincent Piazza