Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Lilith in Jewish Mythology by James Gardner 1858
Lilith in Jewish Mythology by Rev. James Gardner M.D. & A.M. (Author of the Christian Cyclopedia) 1858
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LILITH, the first wife of Adam, according to Rabbinical tradition among the Jews. The strange story is thus related in Jewish legends. "When the blessed God created the first man, whom he formed alone, without a companion, he said, It is not good that the man should be alone: and therefore he created a woman also out of the ground, and named her Lilith. They immediately began to contend with each other for superiority. The man said: It behooves thee to be obedient; I am to rule over thee. The woman replied: We are on a perfect equality; for we were both formed out of the same earth. So neither would submit to the other. Lilith, seeing this, uttered the Shem-hamphorash," that is, pronounced the name Jehovah, "and instantly flew away through the air. Adam then addressed himself to God, and said: Lord of the universe! the woman whom thou gavest me, has flown away from me. God immediately dispatched three angels, Sennoi, Sansennoi, and Sammangeloph, to bring back the fugitive: he said to them: If she consent to return, well; but if not, you are to leave her, after declaring to her that a hundred of her children shall die every day. These angels then pursued her, and found her in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters in which the Egyptians were to be afterwards destroyed. They made known to her the divine message, but she refused to return. They threatened, unless she would return, to drown her in the sea. She then said: Let me go; for I was created for no other purpose than to debilitate and destroy young infants, my power over the males will extend to eight days, and over the females to twenty days, after their birth. On hearing this, the angels were proceeding to seize her and carry her back to Adam by force: but Lilith swore by the name of the living God, that she would refrain from doing any injury to infants, wherever and whenever she should find those angels, or their names, or their pictures, on parchment or paper, or on whatever else they might be written or drawn: and she consented to the punishment denounced against her by God, that a hundred of her children should die every day. Hence it is that every day witnesses the death of a hundred young demons of her progeny. And for this reason we write the names of these angels on slips of paper of parchment, and bind them upon infants, that Lilith, on seeing them, may remember her oath, and may abstain from doing our infants any injury." Another rabbinical writer says: "I have also heard that when the child laughs in its sleep in the night of the sabbath or of the new moon, the Lilith laughs and toys with it; and that it is proper for the father, or mother, or any one that sees the infant laugh, to tap it on the nose, and say, Hence, begone, cursed Lilith; for thy abode is not here. This should be said three times, and each repetition should be accompanied with a pat on the nose. This is of great benefit, because it is in the power of Lilith to destroy children whenever she pleases."
To the modern Jews, Lilith is an object of great dread, more especially when a child is about to be born, because they imagine that she has been transformed into a female demon, and takes delight in injuring and even destroying young children. Hence when a Jewish woman approaches the period of her confinement, the husband inscribes on each of the walls or partitions around the bed, along with the names of Adam and Eve in Hebrew characters, the words Chuts Lilith, that is, "begone Lilith." On the inside of the doors also he writes the names of three angels, which it is believed will defend the child from the injuries which it might otherwise receive from Lilith.