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The Confluence

Article Title

The Lilith Challenge

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Lilith, the female demon, is found all over ancient Babylonian mythology. She is not unique to Jewish folklore but was a part of ancient Babylonian and Assyrian mythology prior to the time of the Rabbis. In this paper, I will explore how her myth is incorporated into Judaism to help explain why evil happens to people who unwilfully sin. I will explore the cultivation and connection between the demon Lilith in the Jewish tradition, drawing from the Talmudic sources, a separate story in the Alphabet of Ben Sira, and the relation to evil. The Alphabet of Ben Sira was written after the Babylonian Talmud: “The Alphabet of Ben Sira is a medieval popular book with a pseudpigraphic character. Its exact date is still a matter of dispute. The majority of experts believe that it was written sometime between the ninth and tenth centuries.”[1] This, and the Talmudic midrash about Lilith, were eventually picked up by popular Judaism. In this paper, I follow the development of the Lilith mythology, her beginning as an evil mother goddess, changing to a desert demon, to a baby killer, then to a succubus, and lastly as an explanation of Adam’s first wife in the book of Genesis, which serves as a bases for the Alphabet of Ben Sira.

Comments

Sarah Goldblum, graduated from Lindenwood University in December of 2020 with a bachelors degree in Religious Studies. Sarah focused on the portrayal of the demon Lilith in Judaic and Rabbinic discourse. After graduation Sarah began working full time at a Jewish preschool and will be pursuing a degree at Lindenwood University with a masters in counseling.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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