Adam's First Wife

By Vorjack
Marriage in the Bible, Part 3

LilithIn my last post in this unfocused look at marriage in the Bible, I discussed the interpretation of the Genesis story. Alas, I find that version of the story is incomplete. To get the real dirt on Adam & Eve, you have to turn to the Rabbinical literature.

You think the apple was the worst of it? Oh, no.

Every Last Drop of Meaning

Rabbinical interpretation is a strange thing to most modern Christians. The ancient scribes and Rabbis assumed that their sacred literature held cryptic meanings placed there by God. If fact, there were sometimes multiple hidden meanings within a single section.

Biblical contradictions are an embarrassment to modern fundamentalists, but to the ancient scholars they acted a keyholes through which a hidden meaning might be glimpsed. Holes in the story could be used to tell new stories, and thereby wring a little more meaning out of the text. The most famous of these stories is probably the story of Lilith.

Lilith, The Night Hag

Pullquote: “And wild beasts shall meet with hyenas, the satyr shall cry to his fellow; yea, there shall the night hag alight, and find for herself a resting place.”
Isaiah 34:14

Lilith began her literary existence as a Babylonian demoness. Her name roughly translated to “bad wind;” the ill wind that blows misfortune. She seemed to be part succubus and part night hag: she was stealing semen one moment, then killing infants the next. That’s where things sat for thousands of years.

Then some of the Rabbis began to look at the story of Genesis again. They noticed that the story has humanity being created twice, once in Genesis 1 and again in Genesis 2. In the first case, man and woman were created simultaneously. In the second case, the woman was created sometime later, drawn for the rib (or side) of Adam.

What could this contradiction mean? Someone decided that it must mean that woman had been created twice, or rather that two different women had been created. Since the story continues with Eve, she must have been the second. Looking around for a candidate for the first creation, their thoughts went to Lilith.

Exactly when this happened isn’t clear. Lilith still plays the traditional demoness role in the Talmud, compiled in the early 6th century. The first full version of her marriage to Adam appears in the Alphabet of Ben-Sira, which could have been written anywhere from the 8th century to the 10th century.

For Want of the Kama Sutra

Pullquote: It’s a fun story, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s just an ancient joke about first wives.

The Alphabet gives us a fairly advanced version of the story. The work itself is satirical, so the version we get is blunt and earthy. It seems that Adam and Lilith, both created from the earth at roughly the same time, cannot get along. Since they both come from the same source there is no way to establish precedence. So we find them squabbling over … well, I’ll let you read it:

Adam and Lilith immediately began to fight. She said, “I will not lie below,” and he said, “I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one.” Lilith responded, “We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.” But they would not listen to one another.

If someone had told them that there are more than two possible positions, human history might be very different.

Apparently Lilith got fed up with this. She flies off and refuses to return, taking on her familiar role as the explanation for crib death. Later Jewish mystical works imply that Lilith is the mother of demons and the wife of Satan. If we link the stories (which was probably never the intent of the authors) we see that Lilith has entered into a rebound relationship with the devil. It’s a fun story, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s just an ancient joke about first wives.

Poor Adam is left alone in Eden while Lilith is off partying with Old Scratch himself, surely sufficient punishment for Adam’s insistence on the missionary position. So God tries again, this time creating a woman from a piece of Adam. Since this woman was created directly from man, she will be properly subservient … or will she? But that’s a story for next time.

Vorjack is a librarian/archivist and a public historian, living with his wife in history-soaked Albany, New York.

  • Tatum Guy

    how moving!!

  • nessie

    Mexican food is often followed by ‘bad wind’. Mexican food is hot. Fire is hot. Hell is full of fire. Satan rules over hell. Therefore Lilith and Satan. Makes perfect sense!

    • Cenobite


    • Janet Greene

      Clever! 6 degrees of separation. Reminds me of the sort of reasoning that linked Iraq to Al-Quada in the “mind” of George W (they both have “Q’s” in their names! Let’s go to war!!!)

  • Felix

    In pop mythology (role playing games, comics etc.), Lilith is often depicted as the mother of vampires, who met Cain and turned him into the first of all vampires by feeding him her demonic blood.
    Women’s liberation movements of the 1970s adopted Lilith as a symbol for her resistance to Adam.
    Going back in history, there were several Lilith-cults founded in the last decades of the 19th century, when toying with Victorian obsession with mortality, spiritism and secret societies were very popular, as well as a wave of romantic literature (Keats, LeFanu) and hedonism in closed circles.
    The idea of the Evil Woman as a demonic seductress can be found in many cultures, just take the harpies, succubi, the sirens, nymphs, the Lorelei, witches as examples.

    • Slurms

      “The idea of the Evil Woman as a demonic seductress can be found in many cultures, just take the harpies, succubi, the sirens, nymphs, the Lorelei…”

      …and this girl in the office where I work.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Lilith is often depicted as the mother of vampires, who met Cain and turned him into the first of all vampires by feeding him her demonic blood.

      But after Cain offed Abel, who else was there left to vampirize? Mommy and Daddy, and that’s about it.

      • Mr. Anonymous

        While Cain and Abel are perhaps the most famous of Adam and Eve’s children, they were not, in fact, the only children of the first parents.

        Cain is often the first vampire in this settings, after having drunk of Lilith’s blood, and the first people he turns are some of his grand-niece and nephews.

        • Francesc

          It says so in the bible? Or we should just deduce it from the fact that cain finds a wife?
          (his sister?)

  • Kaz Dragon

    So basically, you’re saying that if they’d figured out doggy, then there would have been no Eve and hence no Fall?

  • J. Allen

    Fun fact: the creator’s of Cheers named Frasier’s wife Lilith with this story in mind.

  • John C

    Adam was an Adam-Eve, an ethereal dual unity possessing both gender attributes, being neither male or female (like God) but a combination of both natures. Sin caused the separation of the whole and the re-making of the two in distinct physical forms, adam being having to be “formed” from the dust of the earth as opposed tio being created, since he had already been. This is part of the “mystery of marriage” that Paul spoke of and the very reason Jesus said “in the beginning, God made them both male and female”. He was more spirit than flesh (and so are we) until the fall.

    I appreciate Vorjacks contribution to the forum, but respectfully none of the above is a true rendering of the book of beginnings, the Genesis story.

    Lilith? Anyone ever read George Macdonalds epic fantasy by that same name? Truly regarded as one of the great works of literature in the Victorian age, just wondering.

    • Tilly

      “Adam was an Adam-Eve”

      John, usually you make “sense” to the former believer in me, but “an Adam-Eve?” wtf bro?

      • John C


        Thx, yes see my response to Len for more regarding this concept. PS…you say I “usually make sense”, then you obviously havent been paying attention girl! lol I’m kidding with ya.

        You’ve been on my heart lately, blessings, peace.

      • Olaf

        Yes it makes sense, Adam was a man at first and later started dressing up as a women. ROFL Proof of first transexuals started in Genisis!

      • Francesc

        I’m gonna agree with JC for the first time: If it usually makes sense to you, you haven’t been paying atention. He has a very particular set of beliefs for a christian -well, must I say his own set of beliefs? The question is: where does those beliefs come from?

    • Len

      @John C: I think I’ve read something like this from you before on here – and once again, it’s without any reference to where it comes from. You apparently think that your story is “a true rendering of the book of beginnings”. Why do you think that your story is correct and true? And is “book of beginnings” a new fancy description for Genesis? I don’t remember it (but it was a long time ago).

      • John C

        Len, thx. Yes, the term “book of beginnings” is a commonly used term (by both Christians and non) for Genesis which means, as you know “the origin, the beginning” so actually I am making sense…for a change, lol.

        As far as Adam being an adam-eve, this view, now not as widely understood was much more common place in past times. I could go into the why’s, its a litte long tho and I dont think you want me to ramble on too much but remember adam was originally made in the very “image and likeness of God” who is genderless, having both male and female qualities and is spirit (Jn 4:4) and so adam would have also had to have been if he were made in His exact image, right. So, I hold that our current, frame of flesh is a lowered state from our original, high state mostly spirit-think of Jesus after the resurrection, He had a body but walked thru walls, was not subject, limited to temporal confines. All the best.

        • Aor

          Does god have wisdom teeth, John?

      • Bill

        “’s without any reference to where it comes from.”

        That’s because he just made it up.

        • John C

          I could give you multiple references but we both know you wouldnt read them Bill.

          • Elemenope

            So don’t do it for Bill. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all.

            • John C


              This was not an abstract concept years ago, but it lost favor in modern, fundamentalist circles, didnt fit into their agenda’s. You could start with Swainson’s 1921 treatise on the controversial 16th century mystic Jacob Boehme and go to “adam and eve” section, and “the fall”. Its available online text @

     (cant make it hyperlink?)

              And from there you could google “two creation stories in Genesis”, or keywords “ethereal dual-unity, adam-eve, was adam BOTH male and female, , etc.

            • John C

              Jesus also referenced this in Matthew and Mark..”And he answering said to them, ‘Did ye not read, that He who made them, from the beginning a male and a female made them He”?

            • Scott Boatner

              I used to battle over why God created man twice when I was a kid. But if you read the scriptures. God is a spirit. john 4:24. when God said let us make man in our image, he was making man as a spirit. Jesus said a spirit has no flesh and bone. If you have no flesh and bone, you have no form. We all no a spirit really has no form. It says “so God created man in his own image male and female created he them. So we no male and female was created as a spirit with no form. Then if you read on, it says God looked and saw there was not a man to tilll the ground. Why was there not a man to till the ground? Because man had no flesh and bone to be able to till the ground. Also when God created male and female it was on day six. after day six he rested on day seven. thats is when he looked on day seven and no man to till the ground. Then, remember, male and female is already created on day six. He watered the face of the earth and then formed man of the dust of the earth. male was created as a spirit, the formed as man from the earth. female was created, then he formed female also. go back and read about the beast, fowl, and creeping things, they were created and then formed also. Then brought to Adam to name them. Gen 2-3. read the scripture carefully and you will understand. I personally don’t believe in this lilith person. There was a comment about sin before Eve. Sin didn’t take place until after man and woman were formed. As long as we are in this fleshly shell, there will always be sin. The above is my church video site. Here is a link to a message called “The Born Identity” that will be helpful in what i just said. I hope this helps someone on this blog.

            • trj

              Well, it could be that there’s a very intricate and convoluted explanation, like this one, for the two differing genesis stories, which you have to coax from the Bible because it for some reason doesn’t just explain such things to us straight out.

              Or, it could be that, you know, it was actually just two different versions that were collected by one of the many editors of OT who didn’t quite manage to make them match in the editing proces.

            • brgulker

              Genesis means beginning in Hebrew.

              Calling it the “book of beginnings” is perfectly accurate, and it’s very, very common to do so.

          • cello

            This is also the mythology espoused by New Age spirituality in books like A Course in Miracles.

            • John C

              Not all that’s labeled “New Age” is woo-hoo, some indeed but not all. In fact, they have a strong spiritual focus, leads to some light, some revelation.

            • wazza

              yup, woo

          • Bill

            “I could give you multiple references but we both know you wouldnt read them Bill.”

            What on earth would make you say that? You have never provided a reference for anything you have said here that I can recall, let alone in response to something I’ve posted. What would make you think I wouldn’t read them?

            I’m frankly sorprised you have provided one here. I will gladly take a look.

    • vorjack

      “none of the above is a true rendering of the book of beginnings, the Genesis story.”

      I don’t claim that it is. The bulk of the story of Lilith comes from the Talmud, the Alphabet of Ben-Sira and the Zohar. The Talmud is a collection of wisdom and midrashim, the Zohar is a work of mysticism, and the Alphabet … is there a name for a sacred work that contains flatulence jokes?

      Anyway, the stories of Lilith are midrashim; stories inspired by sacred writings that explain or expand on the teaching of the Rabbis. I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that none of this was intended by the tellers as factual. True maybe, but not factual.

      • John C

        Fair enough, thanks Vorjack.

      • Daniel Florien

        I wonder if Genesis was ever intended to be factual. I think the ancients had a very different understanding of “retelling history” than we do. Accuracy didn’t seem to be one of their main concerns.

        • brgulker

          I think that’s well-said. The ancient people didn’t even think of time as we do, much less history and historical accuracy.

    • claidheamh mor

      John C, idea of spirit separating into male-female is appealing. But I think you ramble so much about it because no one’ll have you and you can’t get any.

    • L. Jerome

      Well, statistically, about 1 in 2,000 babies are born intersexed – that is, with ambiguous genitalia. Apparently, Adam/Eve was no exception.

      • Janet Greene

        These people make twice as much money as hookers. Too bad there were no customers for adam-eve.

    • BurnSpeed

      Its easy to string words into a sentence and pretend they make sense, but how exactly does sin make a hermaphrodite split into 2 different genders. Do we know the mechanism?

      • Francesc

        hey, hey, don’t go too fast :-)
        Why an hermafrodite, if God didn’t designed “humans” to reproduce themselves? Obviously, it should have been an asexual being.

        One could ask, though, why the others animal were created in sexual pairs. I mean, all were vegans and death wasn’t till the fail, so if they reproduce, there would be soon an overpopulation of them…

    • Janet Greene

      John C, WHERE do you get your information???? I know I’ve asked this before, never got an answer…is this part of the whole “smooth down there” discussion we had recently on another thread??

  • Olaf

    But the story of 2 wives for Adam makes sense.
    So it could also explain the Jezus the twins and the 2 Maria’s.
    One was born in Bethlehem With Maria 1, the other born in Nazareth with Maria 2, Both looked exactly like David their father.

    So at 33, they kill one Jezus off and up comes the twin from the grave. LOL

    • Olaf

      For those that do know the real story, David is the brother of Jozeph that impreginated the 2 Maria’s. LOL

      • Yoav

        I always taught it was the mailman.

        • cello

          LOL. I like your version of the story.

        • Janet Greene

          I don’t know if there were mailmen in that era. Maybe the tax man? Or the census man, you know, the one from the jesus-being-born story? He got around, lotsa lonely housewives whose husbands were being fishers of men and all that?

    • lolbot

      This reminds me of “The Prestige.” Great movie, if you haven’t seen it.

  • Siberia

    So… Lilith is created, gets upset because Adam is hopelessly vanilla, runs off and marries the one considered the hottest and brightest angel available.
    Sounds good to me.

    • claidheamh mor

      Adam is hopelessly vanilla


      I’d say he shouldn’t get any either, but then he had the obligation to start the human race, blah blah. I’d’ve said the hell with it, let the earth stay green.

  • Craig

    Is it just me or does it sound like Eve is actually Adams daughter and he turned to her after Lilith left.
    She is made from him right?

    • CoffeeJedi

      Wouldn’t she be his clone in that case?
      So…. when they had sex, it was more like masturbation…


  • Josh SN

    Sorry, the ancient Rebbe missed the boat, entirely.

    Please see the documentary hypothesis.

    The reason many things in the OT appear to happen twice is that much of Tanakh is two different versions, sandwiched together.

    • John C

      The problem with that, is that said “bible” is spirit (“my words are spirit and truth”) and so, even tho man’s hand was the implement, God’s mind the Source. And that’s why it cant be interpreted outside the One Mind of God, only skimmed, viewed as it were perplexingly.

      That’s why we are offered the mind of Christ…

      • DarkMatter

        “The problem with that, is that said “bible” is spirit…”

        “bible” and “john C” – of cause it can, in “fishing” or “trapping”.

      • Janet Greene

        The real reason it’s perplexing is because the editing in the bible was shoddy, and the council of necia in 325 AD forgot to remove some passages that would prove the bible was fundamentally flawed. They were in too much of a hurry. Too bad they didn’t have “search and replace” on their computers back then.

    • vorjack

      Sorry, the ancient Rebbe missed the boat, entirely.

      Well, yes and no. Yes, it’s certainly true that they didn’t know about the documentary hypothesis. It seems fairly clear that the knowledge of how the Pentateuch was compiled was lost at some point. The Rabbis probably didn’t know of the J,D,P, & E sources.

      That said, I don’t know if it would have made any difference. The ‘rules’ of rabbinical interpretation seemed to require that the reader play the cards as they were dealt. They were looking for meanings hidden by God, after all, and who was to say what tools God would use?

      For example, in piece in this series that I’ll write later, the interpreters are working with the word ‘LORD’. This word had been written in as a replacement for the tetragrammaton, the four consonants forming the name of God. So the story was actually referring to God, and I think the interpreters would know that. But they decide that ‘LORD’ actually refers to someone else, and it becomes a very famous Rabbinical story.

      • brgulker

        Not to tell you what to do here, but you might want to dig into how ‘adonai’ fits into all that. It may enhance your piece a bit.

  • teco

    “You think the apple was the worst of it?”

    when was it ever confirmed that it was an apple? :P

    • vorjack

      No, but if I said ‘lemon’, no one would get the reference.

    • Ryan

      In Latin, the word for “evil thing” is the same as the word for “apple” – malum. I assume that’s where the common conception of ‘the fruit’ as being an apple comes from.

      • Francesc

        apple = pomum ?

  • Fentwin

    A sad thing is that I have upper level anatomy & physiology students who are convinced that men have one less rib than women. It doesn’t matter that we have a male and female articulated skeletons.

    • claidheamh mor

      That is horrifying on so many levels.

  • Toby

    Very interesting and enjoyable read. Although slightly tangential, this creepy animated movie might have some roots traceable back to Lilith…

    …I’d say the author(s) of the tale had some relationship issues.

  • Bobb

    So this is how the God Fearing played off drunk booty calls in Biblical Times? Could you imagine getting caught by your wife with your obstacle in some chicks mouth and trying to tell your wife that the entertainment had some demonic power over you, thus you were a “victim”? What then? Did males stone their wives for laughing at the bullshit excuse?

    That said adultery is necessary in or times because women are ungodly selfish with all their new freedoms. Men in biblical times knew the ultra selfish nature of women, which is while they amde “oppression” a part of religion.

    Anyway, Lilith flew off because Adam didnt give her what she wanted and properly shot it in her hair as she flew off. This is how bratty sluts are to be treated and that is what those writings are trying to tell males. What worthless fathers never tell their sons (because they had to treat their wives this way) is that you never back down to a female who threatens to withhold sex, find another. When you do find that replacement, the “strong” Lillith types will crawl back to you; but not till you find that replacement and are happy in your new relationship, so the Lilith can see what she is missing.

    • Shizzy

      I had to read your comment over three times and I still don’t understand if you are joking.

      If you weren’t, can you tell me what else men in Biblical times *knew*?
      Lilith flew off because Adam was an opressive egomanic.
      Is that what you told your son (if you had one) to do? To break up with the girl if she says she is’t going to *do it your way*?
      Stong women don’t crawl back. Stong women don’t get jealous of their ex’s relationships. And they will NOT go back to an immature hypocrite because, just because he got another girl. There was a reason they broke the relationship.

      Sorry if it was a joke.

      • LRA

        If he’s not joking then he’s a troll. Since he didn’t indicate sarcasm, then it’s fair to say that he’s a troll just trying to stir the pot.

        • claidheamh mor

          Yeah, he’s one of those idiots who call themselves “a nice guy” and whine that all the women like baaaad men, and are so screwed up now that they have freedom almost like human beings, that they misuse by ignoring such a nice guy like him.

          The idea that he has hatred and ulterior motives just doesn’t compute! My brother is a genuinely nice guy instead of a “nice guy”, and he wouldn’t be able to take on all the women that like him.

          • Janet Greene

            I know this is off-subject, but I think the word “nice” has gotten a bad rap. To me, “nice” guys are guys who are reliable, have a backbone, keep their word, have integrity, and have the strength to commit when they see a good thing. It does NOT mean vanilla. I think too may guys equate “nice” with being weak, desperate or too eager to please. These are not attractive qualities. However, I would never consider dating anyone except a “nice” guy. And no self-respecting woman would. If whassisname who posted that mysogenistic crap is for real, he needs to get a character makeover before any real woman would consider even a first date. I’m just sayin’.

      • Janet Greene

        I’m pretty sure this is a joke. Nobody’s that stupid.

  • Wolter

    There are two creations of man in genesis as a result of a man who is referred to as “The Redactor”.
    His job was to square the priestly, organized version of the Torah with the common, folklore version in order to put an end to both factions and create a unified religion (shortly after Israel was wiped out by Babylon, a time when unity was absolutely essential to their survival).

    In attempting to make everyone happy (well, make everyone the least angry anyway), he put both versions of the same story intermixed in the final version, but always put the priestly version first. This is why man and woman are created together in the first telling, and then Eve is created from Adam’s rib in the second telling.

    The folklore Torah was a collection of stories about a child-god who needed to prove himself. The priestly Torah was a full, organized religion that worshiped an eternal, perfect and unchanging god, who could only be reached through the priests, of course.

    This is why you have Yahweh as the compassionate and wise ruler one minute, and a childish (and deadly) god throwing a tantrum the next.

  • brgulker

    Interesting post, Vorjack. Thanks for the time you put into. It’s fascinating stuff.

  • greg rigby

    Greg Rigby’s The God Secret uncovers a startling truth about the greatest mystery of all times—the origins of the Judeo/Christian God and its religious teachings. The proofs in the book will raise serious questions about the origins of the Western belief system

  • JROC

    People come on, Adam an Eve….. Really now. There’s a much better read, It’s called Brothers Grim fairy tales… P.S. I’d take Lilith anyday, gotta love her…

  • daewoo

    its all a illuminati cover up.they purposefully distort history so that simple minds are always guessing.a satanic conspiracy.brothers grim my ass….