Lilith, begone!

Lullaby (Noun): A quiet, gentle song sung to put a child to sleep.

There are many speculations on where the term “lullaby” originated from. Some claim it comes from the idea of “lulling” a baby to sleep. Recently a stumbled across an alternative speculated origin of the term that I personally find fascinating.

Hypothesized Origin:

The origin of the term “lullaby” comes from the words “Lilith-Abi” which means “Lilith, begone.” In some versions of Jewish folklore Lilith was Adam’s first wife (as in Adam and Eve) who takes out her vengeance on Adam by stealing children’s souls in the night. Lilith is often referred to as “The Howling One” and is regarded as a demon.

Further Background on Lilith According to Jewish Folklore:

Lilith was created by God to ease the loneliness of Adam. Lilith was molded from the same dust that God used to mold Adam. Adam desired to rule over Lilith whereas Lilith desired equality because they were created from the same dust. Adam was unpleased with Lilith’s strong-will and unwillingness to submit and they quarreled. Lilith left Adam and fled the Garden. God then sent three angels in pursuit Lilith. When the angels apprehended Lilith they commanded her to return to Adam. Lilith refused to return and vowed that she would claim her vengeance on Adam’s suppressive treatment of her by killing and stealing the souls of little children (including infants). The angels overpowered her, and she promised that if the mother hung an amulet (an ornament or small piece of jewelry thought to give protection against evil, danger, or disease) or talisman (an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck) over the baby she would pass over that cradle. The angels let her go and God created Eve from Adam’s rib (so she could not claim equality) to be his companion. Since this time it is thought that Lilith roams the world, howling her hatred of mankind (not to be confused with humankind), claiming her vengeance on the suppressive treatment she experienced.

2 comments

  1. Calista says:

    I love that you wrote this! I’ve been really fascinated with the legends concerning Lilith for a really long time because no one really talks about it ever but it kept cropping up now and then in my studies of English Literature. She’s everywhere in the literature world but if I hadn’t taken all of those classes, I don’t know that I would have ever known about her.

    I think the reason I like the idea of her so much is because she doesn’t hate Adam. She doesn’t even “defy” him in the way that we would consider offensive today – from what I’ve read, the problem arose when Lilith and Adam were about to have sex and Adam wanted her to “get beneath him” like the animals do and she thought it was degrading.

    Lilith wasn’t offended about Adam wanting to have sex with her – she was ready and willing – she was offended when he tried to force her into a position she wasn’t comfortable with. He could have respected her and respected her wishes – enjoying love making that put both of them at ease (and you know, once she knew he loved her and wasn’t just in it for crazyhotmonkey sex she might have let him have his way sometime down the road)- but he chose to be a total asshole and force her to do something that she obviously wasn’t down with/ready for.

    I guess I like the story because a lot of these kinds of legends (like Medusa and my namesake Calista and thousands of others) end with the woman getting raped and then cursed for something completely asinine.

    Lilith still becomes demonized like all other strong/defiant/independent woman in these kinds of legends but at least she chose her fate. She left Adam. She left the comfort of the garden which takes some serious lady balls and then she turned around and cursed HIS ass. I love it.

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