Quite a few years ago now, a fairly popular comic, written by Neil Giaman, had a story about the original form of Adam being Adam and Lillith back to back. God separated them and they fought. So Lillith was taken from the garden and another woman was created from the soil and clay. Adam, so in awe of her beauty, could not even speak to her let alone do the job God wanted of him. So Adam was again put to sleep and God destroyed this woman and Adams memory of her and created Eve of Adams rib. The lesson of this being: Lillith and Adam having been “born” back to back were destined to stay that way since neither one was willing to follow the other; the second woman having been created whole and Adam at this time only being half, he was simply less and this was not to be; Eve, however was of his flesh, as was Lillith, but she was born of his side and therefore destined to stay there. After I had read this story I asked around about it and had been told that it was from the Jewish faith and books that this originated. Being as I am not Jewish, Idon’t really know how true it is. But it puts a whole new spin on “Is God a man or woman?” considering Adam was created in God’s own image. Food For Thought!
The idea that Adam was a hermaphrodite is a midrash, a commentary on the biblical text. Midrashim were created by the rabbis from around, oh, say 200 BC to 200 AD. These are not tenets of Jewish faith by any means, they are more in the line of stories or exaggerations (usually making moral points).
An analogy to Christian literature might be the story of the littlest angel (who gets to hover over Jesus’ crib, as I recall.) It’s not in the New Testament, and it’s not contradicted by canonical text, it’s just a nice story with a moral that is made up from a blank space in the biblical text.
Some midrashim are wild and pretty far out. Such stories can’t contradict the Biblical text, of course, but they can (and do) work with things that the Biblical text DOESN’T say.
My guess is that Mr Giaman took two different midrashim – (1) Lilith as first woman and (2) Adam as hermaphrodite – and combined them to create this little story. I’ve not heard Lilith identified in that way before.
And, of course, the notion of primitive man being hermaphroditic is older than midrash. Check out Plato’s Symposium, for example.
John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams
I would agree that Giaman probably borrowed the “back-to-back” idea from Plato’s Symposium; however, the idea that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, as opposed to some other part of his body, so that he and Eve would be side to side as partners is a very old rabbinic idea.
It comes up a lot in Orthodox Feminism (sounds like an oxymoron, I know; it’s actually very interesting, although personally I don’t find it appealing) as a proof text for the idea that though men and women aren’t alike, and have different roles, they’re nonetheless equal in the sight of G-d. I don’t remember the whole argument, and I’ll probably misrepresent it, but it goes something like this: if Eve had been made from a skull bone, she would be Adam’s master, if from a heelbone, she would be like dust under his feet, if from a handbone, she would be too far from his heart, but by being made from a rib, she is near to Adam’s heart, and neither above nor below him.
Yes, Riv, but one point: Eve being made from the “rib” or “side” of Adam is from the canonical text (Gen 2:21). The ancient rabbinic interpretation is that this meant she was to be his “side-by-side” partner.
(Your sentence is unclear whether the creation from rib is also rabbinic interpretation.)
Well. yeah, you’re right, Dex, I was unclear. My only real point was that since the very earliest commentary, rabbis have found significance in the part of Adam that was used to make Eve.
“Tsela” (rib) is part of the original text, but the Torah doesn’t attribute to G-d any reason for choosing a rib over some other body part.
OK. According to the Oxford Companion to the Bible, Lilith is a female demon who appears in Isaiah 34.14 as part of the description of the Lord’s day of vengence. Blah, blah… The early medieval Alphabet of of Ben Sira (?) draws on the traditions that *Adam had a first wife who preceded *Eve and identifies her with Lilith. Noting that both she and Adam were created from the earth, Lilith flies away from Adam after unsuccessfully demanding that she be regarded as his equal. There’s more involving feminist vs. male authors, but maybe this will help. (I also remember hearing that she was a witch, etc., which probably relates to the male vs. female writings of history).
Yes, Popo… if you’ll check the Archives, under MAILBAG, you’ll find the detailed answer to the question “Who was Lilith?” … to which this thread is commentary.