Lady Lilth, oil painting painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti between 1866 and 1873.

Lilith is a figure in Jewish folklore. She is believed to have been Adam's first wife and to have later become a dangerous demon.

In the Tanakh

There is only one reference to Lilith in the Tanakh, in Isaiah 34:14. This has sometimes been translated as "Lilith" in English translations but has also been translated in many other ways, such as night monster[1] . It was translated as "screech owl" in the King James Bible.[2]

In later literature

The earliest extant written account of Lilith is found in The Alphabet of Ben Sira, believed by most modern scholars to have been written between the 8th and 10th centuries CE.

Medieval amulet intended to protect mothers and children from Lilith.

It is recounted that G-d created Lilith from the clay at the same time as Adam, for that reason, she considered herself to be Adam's equal and refused to submit to his will. She said the secret name of G-d and fled. Three angels were sent to bring Lilith back to Eden, she was told that one hundred of her children would die every day if she did not return. She refused to return, however, and therefore one hundred demons die every day.

G-d created a second mate for, Adam, Eve, forming her out of one of Adam's ribs.

Lilith has been wandering the Earth ever since. She is perceived as a threat to boys and young men. She holds dominion over male children for eight days after they are born and over female children for twenty days after they are born. If she sees an amulet bearing the names of the three angels who were charged with bringing her back to Eden, however, she can do no harm to the child who is wearing it.


Lilith's face from the 1887 painting Lilith by the British artist John Collier.

The origin of the story may be found in Genesis, in which there appear to be two different accounts of the creation of woman, in Genesis 1:27[3], in which it is said that G-d created male and female, and in Genesis 2:22[4], which states that Eve was made from a part of Adam's body.

Belief in Lilith likely long pre-dates The Alphabet of Ben Sira . The tradition of placing an amulet, inscribed with the names of three angels, around the neck of newborn baby boys to protect them from Lilith was probably already long established before the text was written.

See also


  1. Isaiah 34:14 in Hebrew and English on www.mechon-mamre.org
  2. Isaiah 34:14 in the King James Bible] on Wikisource
  3. Genesis 1:27 in Hebrew and English
  4. Genesis 2:22 in Hebrew and English

External links