Lilith – Jewish & Christian night-mare

“And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place.” (Isaiah 34:14).

ESV has a footnote for the word translated ‘night bird’ – it reads: Hebrew ‘formlessness’. NIV has ‘night creatures’. NRSV and Jerusalem Bible transliterate the Hebrew: Lilith. The Hebrew word Lilith is very similar to the word for ‘night’. I had my attention drawn to it again from the 929 Jewish site – which refers to the legend of Lilith. Here’s part of what Sivan Rotholz wrote on that site:

Her first Jewish incarnation is in Isaiah 34:14. ‘Lilith’ is a word that appears only once in the Bible, a hapax legomenon. We can surmise from the context that she is something dark and foreboding, appearing alongside hyenas and goat-demons during the End of Days. Lilith’s appearance in Isaiah without definition or explanation indicates that Jews of the Isaian age would have known who — or what — Lilith was, without needing explanation. 

A kind of Near Eastern bogeyman, it is likely that the Jews borrowed Lilith from their neighbors, that this demon made her way from Sumerian-Babylonian lore to strike fear in the hearts of the Jewish people. By the time of the writing of Isaiah, Lilith was an integral part of Jewish culture and society.

But it is not only Jewish culture that has adapted or referred to it. The Narnia series by the Christian author, CS Lewis, even refers to Lilith. The origins of the (wicked) Witch are referred to in his Narnia novel: ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ Here it is (from page 77):

“The quickest way you can help him is by going to meet Aslan, said Mr Beaver, once he’s with us, then we can begin doing things. Not that we don’t need you too. For that’s another of the old rhymes:

When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone Sits at Cair Paravel in throne, The evil time will be over and done.

So things must be drawing near their end now he’s come and you’ve come. We’ve heard of Aslan coming into these parts before – long ago, nobody can say when. But there’s never been any of your race here before.

That’s what I don’t understand, Mr Beaver, said Peter, I mean isn’t the Witch herself human?

She’d like us to believe it, said Mr Beaver, and it’s on that that she bases her claim to be Queen. But she’s no Daughter of Eve. She comes of your father Adam’s’ – (here Mr Beaver bowed) you father Adam’s first wife, her they called Lilith. And she was one of the Jinn. That’s what she comes from on one side. And on the other she comes of the giants. No, no, there isn’t a drop of real human blood in the Witch.

That’s why she’s bad all through, Mr Beaver, said Mrs Beaver.

True enough, Mrs Beaver, replied he.

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