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There are two central figures of the female gender in Genesis creation narrative, Eve and Lilith, which are opposite archetypes.

According to mythology, Lilith is Adam's first wife, created at the same time and from the same clay as Adam. She left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him.

“When the first man, Adam, saw that he was alone, God made for him a woman like himself, from the earth. God called her name Lilith, and brought her to Adam. They immediately began to quarrel. Adam said: “You lie beneath me.” And Lilith said: “You lie beneath me! We are both equal, for both of us are from the earth.” And they would not listen to one another. As soon as Lilith saw this, she uttered the Divine name and flew up into the air and fled.”[1]

The Lilith of this story confronts both Adam and God: she defies patriarchy, refuses a submissive sexual posture, and in the end refuses marriage altogether, preferring to become a demon rather than live under Adam’s authority. The Zohar, a mystical work from 12th century Spain, imagines Lilith not only as the first wife of Adam but also as the wife of Satan. In the Kabbalah, Lilith takes on cosmic power.

Women, and especially Lilith, are defined as the ‘other’ due to their physiological differences to the ‘norm’, that is in patriarchal societies, their differences to men. Women can be conceived as the ‘monstrous other’, that which constitutes a threat to patriarchy by subverting that which is normal and accepted in society.

Nowadays the old stories are used to express new ideas. Perhaps the best-known of the new Lilith tales is The Coming of Lilith, 2005, by Judith Plaskow. In this feminist essay, Lilith flees the garden but then come back and befriends Eve.[2]

[1] Alphabet of Ben Sira 23a-b

[2] Hammer, Rabbi Jill: Lilith. Lady Flying in Darkness