Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lilith, the Biblical Vampire By W. Ewing 1910

Lilith, the Biblical Vampire, from The Temple Dictionary of the Bible By W. Ewing 1910

LILITH. This name is trd. in Is. 34.14 AV. "screech owl"; in AVm. and RV. "night monster." It is really the name of a female demon of Hebrew folk-lore. She is said to have been Adam's first wife. She refused to be subject, or to yield obedience to him, and flew away from him. Thereafter she became a demon. The superstition is connected with that of the Babylonian and Assyrian Lil and Lilit. "The Sumerian lilla or Lil meant a 'ghost,' 'spirit,' or 'spark,' and was borrowed by the Semites under the form of Lilu, from which the feminine Lilitu was formed in order to represent the female Lil whom the Sumerians called kiel lilla, 'handmaid of (the male) Lil.' Lilitu is the Hebrew Lilith" (Sayce, The Religion of Anct. Egp. and Bab. 261). The lil had properly no relationship to humankind. It had a separate and independent existence of its own, dwelling under the earth among the dead, but visiting the upper world by night, or haunting desert places where no living thing appeared. Essentially a spirit of darkness, it was known as the "light-despoiler." It travelled in the dust-cloud and the whirlwind. "The Lil, in fact, was essentially a demon," without husband or wife, "one of those evil spirits who tormented and perplexed mankind." The "handmaid of the Lil" was the female attendant of the sexless Lil. "Under the cover of night she enticed men to their destruction, or seduced them in their dreams. She was a veritable vampire, providing the Lil she served with its human food." To the Semite mind she ceased to be a serving-maid and became a lil herself, carrying over all her repulsive and gruesome characteristics. For the Hebrew these were embodied in the conception of Lilith, a single individual spirit. It was in accordance with the popular notions that she should haunt the desolate ruins of Edom (Is. 34.14), finding among them "a place of rest." The later rabbis have much to say regarding this vampire, who, in the form of a beautiful woman, was wont to suck the blood of children whom she slew at night. She was also especially dangerous to men who slept alone (Sayce, op. cit. 281f.). The Targum on Jb.1.15 identifies Lilith with the Queen of Sheba. This superstition was active among the Jews in Mesopotamia until the seventh cent, of our era, and in some quarters it is not yet quite extinct. For the Rabbinical stories see Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. s.v., and Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, ii. chap. 8.

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From Studies in the Religion of Israel By Lewis Arthur Pooler 1904

The Semites borrowed the Sumerian "Lil," which signifies a "ghost" or "spirit," under the form Lilu, from which a feminine was formed, Lilitu, or Lilith. Centuries afterwards Hebrew rabbis imagined Lilith to have been the first wife of Adam: It was Lilith, the wife of Adam; Not a drop of her blood was human, But she was made like a soft, sweet woman.

Lilith was the origin of the idea of the vampire, who sucks the blood of its sleeping victims. This belief was common among the Jews in the time of the prophet Isaiah. We read in the description of the desolation of Edom, "The wild beasts of the desert shall meet with the wolves, and the he-goat shall cry to his fellows, and Lilith shall settle there and make her a place of rest."'

Indeed, in Palestine at the present time, after a child is born, incantations are used for eight days to keep away Lilith, who is supposed to pursue the descendants of Eve, her successful rival, with undying hostility.

"From the earliest records of man, there is a story of an ancient being that preyed upon children. It was suspected to be female and demonic, and killed not only children but also women who were with child and men, seducing them and draining them of their blood. Over the eons, it has had many names and many titles, but today, we call it Lilith." ~Theresa Bane

Footnote from the American Standard Version Bible 1901 showing the word "vampire" as an acceptable alternative rendering at Proverbs 30:15

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