Lilith: Ancient Demon, Dark Deity or Sex Goddess?

Lilith: Ancient Demon, Dark Deity or Sex Goddess?

(Read the article on one page)

In some sources she's described as a demon, in others she is an icon who became one of the darkest deities of the pagans. Lilith is one of the oldest known female spirits of the world. Her roots come from the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, but she was also described in the Bible and the Talmud.

In Jewish tradition, she is the most notorious demon, but in some other sources she appears as the first woman created on Earth. According to a legend, God formed Lilith as the first woman. He did it in the same way as he created Adam. The only difference was that in place of pure dust, he also used filth and residue. Traditionally Lilith means ''the night'', and she is related to attributes connected with the spiritual aspects of sensuality and freedom, but also terror.

The ancient demon of Sumerians

Lilith’s name comes from the Sumerian word ''lilitu'', which meant a wind spirit or a female demon. Lilith was mentioned in the Tablet XII of the Epic of Gilgamesh, a famous poem of ancient Mesopotamia dated back to not later than c. 2100 BC. The tablet was added to the original text much later, c. 600 BC, in its later Assyrian and Akkadian translations. She appears in a magical story, where she represents the branches of a tree. She is described with other demons, but researchers still argue if she was a demon or a dark goddess. At the same time, she appeared in early Jewish sources, so it is difficult to find out who mentioned her first. However, it is obvious that from the beginning of her existence in the texts she was related to Sumerian witchcraft.

Burney Relief, Babylon (1800-1750 BCE). Some scholars (e.g. Emil Kraeling) identified the figure in the relief with Lilith, based on a misreading of an outdated translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Burney Relief, Babylon (1800-1750 BCE). Some scholars (e.g. Emil Kraeling) identified the figure in the relief with Lilith, based on a misreading of an outdated translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

In the Babylonian Talmud, Lilith was described as a dark spirit with an uncontrollable and dangerous sexuality. She is said to have fertilized herself with male sperm to create demons. She is believed to be the mother of hundreds of demons.

A page of a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript, from the Cairo Geniza.

A page of a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript, from the Cairo Geniza. ( Public Domain )

Lilith was known in the culture of the Hittites, Egyptians, Greeks, Israelis, and Romans as well. In later times, she migrated to the north of the Europe. She represented chaos, sexuality, and she has been said to have cast spells on people. Her legend is also related to the first stories about vampires.

The wife of the biblical Adam

Lilith appears in the Bible, in the Book of Isaiah 34:14, which describes the desolation of Eden. From the beginning, she is considered as a devilish spirit, unclean, and dangerous. The Genesis Rabbah describes her as the first wife of Adam. According to the book, God created her and Adam at the same time. Lilith was very strong, independent, and wanted to be equal with Adam. She did not accept being less important than him and refused to lie beneath Adam for copulation. The marriage did not work and they never found happiness. As Robert Graves and Raphael Patai wrote in the book The Hebrew Myths:

''Adam complained to God: 'I have been deserted by my helpmeet' God at once sent the angels Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof to fetch Lilith back. They found her beside the Red Sea, a region abounding in lascivious demons, to whom she bore lilim at the rate of more than one hundred a day. 'Return to Adam without delay,' the angels said, `or we will drown you!' Lilith asked: `How can I return to Adam and live like an honest housewife, after my stay beside the Red Sea?? 'It will be death to refuse!' they answered. `How can I die,' Lilith asked again, `when God has ordered me to take charge of all newborn children: boys up to the eighth day of life, that of circumcision; girls up to the twentieth day. None the less, if ever I see your three names or likenesses displayed in an amulet above a newborn child, I promise to spare it.' To this they agreed; but God punished Lilith by making one hundred of her demon children perish daily; and if she could not destroy a human infant, because of the angelic amulet, she would spitefully turn against her own.''


I love the comment section of this article, so many theories and interpretations. It's like brain candy!

In legends of Jews is Lilith the first wife of Adam before Eve. Interesting is comparison is with Tibetan myth about Brag srin mo, a night demon from eastern deserts, wife of a first man and mother of mankind See for example Journey to Tibet by Ippolito Desideri

As an Christian and a Woman who supports equality of all people - male or female this debate about Lilith is Horse Poo. Many of you, seem to forget that a choice-one way or another- has a consequence again good or bad. What was once a equal partnership of Adam and Eve became after their choice to disobey God- was that not only was their personal face to face relationship with their Creator was cut-- and their reactions and attitudes changed... Both when confronted with their Sin blamed someone else- Adam, his partner Eve. Eve, blamed the serpent. Neither took responsibility for their choice. Adam knew that fruit and where it came from when Eve offered it to him... He could have asked her where it came from to confirm what he already knew, he could have said No, we were told this fruit is forbidden. Did He? No He chose to live in Disobedience of God with his partner Eve, rather than live in Paradise without her. This is my take. That shows the kind of power we can have over a man for Good or Bad. I will never call myself a feminist because frankly, having a Demon as a mentor of femininity, responsibility and power is Crass, retarded of any intelligence or culpability of character and opens my power and freedom as a Woman to becoming a blight and scourge to deceive, destroy. I want to be a light that heals, encourages, brings laughter to those who weep. Be a Warrior for both the unborn and born - A Defender and Voice for those who have no voice or have been ignored by Society. You cannot be those things bowing down to a demon who only aim in life is to lie, cheat and destroy. So, So Sorry! NOT!!

Isn't it interesting how even in ancient times, people were keenly aware of how evil women could be when they departed from their traditional roles and customs. Lilith shared with feminists, and horrid modern women, her manias toward gender equality, toward so-called "independence", and her bitter aversion against women being a man's source of love, inspiration, and affection, to say nothing of her services toward domesticity and motherhood!

Even Eve screwed up badly when she disobeyed Adam (and God), and listened to the serpent by picking and eating the forbidden fruit, and getting them all kicked out of paradise. What can anybody say? Even the Divine Creator can't create a woman who will get anything right!

Of course, women have only become WORSE since then, with feminism and all!

I feel sorry for you for having such a low opinion of women. You sound like a small man who is brainwashed, sexist, and delusional. Women aren't on this earth to be subjugated by spineless men who can't handle their power. Women should always have the freedom to do more than conform to 'their traditional roles and customs'. Grow a spine.


Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

Prometheus and Hercules by Christian Griepenkerl.
The story of Prometheus, Epimetheus and Pandora is a popular myth of ancient Greece - one that has been told and retold throughout the ages. It is a tale of Prometheus, the son of a titan, who was punished for helping mankind.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article