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THE time-honoured personage whom we speak of as the first man is referred to in one genealogy as a son of the Deity; and cannot, in any view, be regarded as an ordinary mortal. Josephus says: "This man was called Adam, which in the Hebrew tongue signifies one that is red, because he was formed out of red earth compounded together; for of that kind is virgin and true earth." Josephus, however, was not inspired. Fuerst, in his Hebrew lexicon, is disposed to disregard the suggestion of redness, and to derive the name from Adamah, the firm ground. Either way, Adam is associated with the earth: and in the idea of many nations the Earth itself is Divine.
In Egypt the personage called Seb is frequently figured lying on the ground, his limbs covered with leaves. In documents and monuments of priestly origin he appears as the personified earth; and he is called the Earth-God. Yet his name denotes "time" and "star"; besides which the number five has the phonetic value Seb. It can hardly be accidental that he is made the instrument for adding five days to the year of 360 days, to complete the measure of time. It appears that formerly the year had consisted of only 360 days; and of course the calendar was liable to get into confusion, and a remedy was looked for. It is affirmed by Herodotus that the Egyptians possessed a year of twelve months containing thirty days each, and that they added five complementary days to complete the tale. These five days were not distributed among the months, but were brought in at the end of the year as a "little month." They were dedicated to certain divinities, were called the birthdays of those divinities, and were kept as holidays. The Egyptians themselves tell the story in symbolic language, and invest it with poetry; for it was not the manner of the ancients to record sacred events in plain prose. Everything connected with the measurement of time and the accuracy of the calendar was sacred in their eyes, because it was concerned with bringing earthly usage into harmony with heavenly law. Unless they knew the times and seasons they could not observe the religious festivals on the proper days, and the Gods would punish them for their neglect. Their agricultural operations would not be duly timed, and their crops would not prosper. The institution of a year of 365 days was a great step towards accuracy; and the story is poetically related as follows: The Sun-God Ra, having discovered that his wife Neith, the Goddess of the Heaven-circle, was secretly associating with Seb, laid a curse upon her, that no day should be available for the birth of her children. Thoth (or Hermes), however, loved her as well, and as he was the God of time-arrangements, he played draughts with the Moon-Goddess and won certain portions of time from her, enough to make five days more. Then the divine children were born-Osiris, Aroeris, Typhon, Isis and Nephthys-one on each of these days. The five days were the birthdays of the five Gods, and they are hardly distinguishable from the Gods themselves. They were not distributed among the months, but were kept apart and observed as holidays.
It is very curious that there should be certain resemblances between Seb the Earth-God and Adam, whose name connects him with the ground. Typhon and Osiris were rival brothers, like Cain and Abel. They married their sisters Nephthys and Isis; and in Rabbinic tradition, though not in Scripture, Cain and Abel married their twin sisters. Typhon murdered Osiris, but Osiris was avenged by his son Horus; who reigns at last securely in place of his father. It reminds us that Seth was given in compensation for Abel; though the parallel is not very close. But what strikes us chiefly in these ancient traditions-if any general parallel was ever intended-is that Adam corresponds to Seb, and Seb is associated with the year of 360 days. This correspondence would perhaps lead the Jewish Rabbins to relate concerning Adam the same things that were told of Seb. At all events they have handed down certain traditions which fit into the astronomical story very well when they are interpreted symbolically.
The year of 360 days cannot have continued long without a supplement. In the space of six years the calendar would be out of accord with the seasons by a full month, and in thirty-six years summer and winter would be reversed. It was convenient, no doubt, to have twelve months of thirty days each; and so convenient to have a circle of 360 degrees that from that day to this it has never been altered. But may there not have been some device of intercalaries? An extra month every sixth year would keep the reckoning as near to accuracy as an addition of five days to every year. On the supposition that such a lunar supplement was given to the Adam year to render it complete, it would be quite in accord with ancient eastern speech to describe it as a companion with whom the man consorted.
In my Myths of Greece, I have shown that Artemis is a divinity who represents a calendar arrangement of this very kind, an extra month brought in at intervals, to make perfect the year of Zeus. The festival of Artemis appears to have been a holiday month in the 120th year, to compensate for an annual omission of one quarter of a day : but the principle of the device was the same. In Egypt the corresponding festival was held in honour of the Goddess Bubastis or Pasht; and part of the ceremony consisted in recognising her relation to Time, by offering to her the clepsydra or water-clock. Naville, the Egyptologist, describing the Festival Hall in the Temple of Bubastis, says that "this offering of the clepsydra is one of the most frequent in these inscriptions: it certainly had some reference to the astronomical meaning of the festival and to its coincidence with a date of the calendar."
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Pasht of Egypt may have been the divinity whom the Jewish Rabbins had in mind when they framed their stories about Adam's first wife. They say that Adam, while in Paradise, was fascinated by Lilith, and lived with her for 130 years before he married Eve. The statue of Pasht had the head of a cat or a catlike animal; and the ruins of Tel Basta, where the Goddess had her temple, have been found to contain a cemetery of cats. Many other Egyptian divinities had animal heads-the jackal, ibis, hawk, crocodile, etc.--and the symbolism is not difficult to understand. The months of the year were of course correlated with the divisions of the Zodiac, which had animal signs; and the divinities were associated with these. The Goddess Sekhet was lion-headed, because she was associated with the month and sign Leo, the "house " of the sun at midsummer. The Pasht month, we may assume, received the sign of the Cat - or, as Naville thinks, "the wild cat or a kind of lynx" -because it was intercalated as a second lion. In any case there is no doubt about the association of the cat with the lion on the one hand and the moon on the other. It is fabled that Noah passed his hand over the back of the lion, the animal sneezed, and the cat came forth from its nostrils. According to Plutarch, a cat placed in a sistrum denoted the moon. Ovid calls the cat the sister of the moon; and says that Pasht took the form of a cat to avoid Typhon.
Adam's first charmer, Lilith, has the same clear relationship with the moon, and, therefore, with the intercalary month and festival; though this has not hitherto been recognised. In the Rabbinic tradition, Lilith was the queen of the female demons. She is pictured with wings and long, flowing hair; she delighted in wild gambols, and is called "the evil dancer." If etymology is any clue to her character-as it appears to be in the case of Eve--she is the spirit of the Night, for the word Lilah means night. Evil things are said of her, especially that she sustains herself on the life of infants, whom she slays at night. The company she keeps seems to be quite consonant with this propensity: Isaiah (xxxiv. 14) couples her with howling creatures prowling among ruins. Rabbi Jose warned people not to go out unattended at night, especially on Wednesdays and Sabbaths, "for then Lilith haunts the air with her train of wicked spirits."
This, then, is a first approximation to a knowledge of the character of Lilith: she is a baleful spirit of the night hours, a sort of Hecate-the Greek lunar Goddess, of whom some dreadful things are told.
But the Moon-Goddess may also be regarded as a charming Diana-"Queen and huntress, chaste and fair." According to the Kabalistic Rabbins, Lilith assumed the form of a beautiful woman, and deceived Adam, becoming his wife on the night before his reception of Eve. Such stories have seemed to be only idle tales while we had no clue to the allegory, but if they are traditions of a time when the year of 360 days received an occasional extra month as its complementary, they record a fact of ancient history. The horror and the beauty which seem contradictory in Lilith are reconciled when we remember that the influences of Night may be either beneficial or hurtful. The heathen were superstitious and invoked the Goddess Lucina when women were in labour.
The Jews employ charms against Lilith to this day; and it is believed in Palestine that she sometimes takes the form of a cat, and is addicted to stealing new-born babes. Some curious instances are given in a paper on folk-lore in the Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund, July, 1904. Lilith is called La Broosha by Spanish Jewesses, and El Karineh by the fellahin: she is a demon who comes in the shape of a great black cat, and she steals new-born babes. This is what great Pasht, the Goddess of Bubastis, has come to, degenerating with the ignorant! Modern folk-lore is often the irrational debris of ancient myth; and the myth, in its first form, was perfectly rational symbolical teaching.
Here, then, we seem to have the meaning of Adam's dalliance with Lilith before he married Eve. In the symbolic terms of the ancient legend, this alliance records the fact that the expultion from the primitive circle or garden had been preceded by some ill-advised association of Sun and Moon in primitive worship and calendar-making. The priests were astronomers; and all calendar-making was an ecclesiastical and religious business, an earnest endeavour to learn the exact rule of the heavens, and bring the routine of human life into accord with it.
Lilith, as Goddess of an intercalary month supplementing the year of 360 days, belongs to a temporary arrangement; and as the system was fruitful of evils she fell into disrepute and was discarded. The next arrangement, in Egypt and elsewhere, was to give five "additional days" to every year, instead of waiting six years or more and then intercalating a month or more. The Rabbins would be acquainted with the legend which made these five days to be the birthdays of five divinities, the offspring of Seb and Neith ; and, as they had already likened Adam to the Earth-God, they would proceed to assimilate Eve to the Heaven-Goddess. Eve, the "mother of all living," must be viewed as the mother of five children, bringing five more days into the year. Seb and Neith had two sons, Typhon and Osiris; and Typhon murdered Osiris, as Cain killed Abel. The two Egyptian brothers had twin sisters, whom they married; and Rabbinic tradition tells the same story about Cab and Abel. Thus we have four out of the five: but about the remaining one there is something so peculiar in the Egyptian account, that the Jewish Rabbins may have felt at a loss for an exact parallel. In the Egyptian story the fifth child is Horus : but in one version he is a son of Osiris and Isis, in another there is an "elder Horus," brother of Osiris and Isis, born on one of the five days. The Rabbinic story also varies, sometimes giving two wives to Abel, and sometimes making the total number of children more than five. In any case the Rabbinic legend connects Lilith with the year of 360 days, and makes Eve the mother of the additional five. Lilith precedes Eve, and is discarded. The earlier arrangement represents Paradise, a state of primitive simplicity which did not last. It is said by some that Adam and Eve were not married till after the expulsion ; as it is plainly declared that the birth of Cain and Abel was later.
In the end of the story, as we have it in Milton, it is very pathetic to read how Adam and Eve, when expelled from the happy garden, looked back and dropped some natural tears: yet they wiped them soon. The world was all before them, where to choose their place of rest; and
They, hand in hand, with wandering step and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Tradition follows them to Ceylon or elsewhere, but we will not now pursue the subject further. - GEO. ST. CLAIR.
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