In this case, it is not quite accurate to say that the story of Lilith comes from Jewish tradition
; rather, the story is more aptly described as Jewish folklore
Although the Jewish story of Lilith has its roots in the anonymous medieval document The Alphabet of Ben-Sira
, some interpret the Bible's mention of the wife of Adam in the first creation story (Gen. 1
) to refer to Lilith and the Bible's mention of the wife of Adam in the second creation story (Gen. 2
) to refer to Eve. Such an interpretation is unsupported by Jewish rabbinic tradition, and can be considered an instance of eisegesis
(i.e., reading into Scripture what one wishes to find).
The story of Lilith originally comes from Mesopatamian mythology, in which she is a night demon believed to prey upon children. As the story later became incorporated into Jewish legend, Lilith became the runaway wife of Adam who vowed revenge upon the descendants of Adam and Eve. Out of pious superstition, some Jews, past and present, put amulets around the necks of their children to protect the children from Lilith's murderous designs.
Because legend holds that Lilith refused to be subservient to Adam, she has been adopted by some Jewish feminists as a heroine of religious egalitarianism in modern Judaism.
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