Kabbala: Lilith the Seductress
In the following passages Lilith is revealed in her role as succubus. Her job
in this guise is to sleep with men (which they experience as wet dreams), or
otherwise collect their semen. Then she becomes pregnant from them and bears
demonic children. This process begins with Adam who attempts celibacy for a
period of time. That separation from his wife leaves him vulnerable to Lilith
(and Naamah, who functions similarly). There may, in this, be an underlying
invective against the practice of celibacy as part of religious dedication.
Celibacy was obviously a part of Christianity at the time and the story
teller may hope to prevent its catching on in Jewish circles. Lilith may also
collect semen even from the marriage bed, though. The sage must be careful to
ensure that she is denied access to the bedroom through both proper modesty
and the performance of prophylactic rituals. Naamah, like Lilith, is a
demon-seductress. In that sense their roles appear identical. Naamah,
however, doesn't have Lilith's baby-stealer(/corrupter) role.
For 130 years Adam kept separate from his wife and did not beget. After Cain
killed Abel, Adam did not want to copulate with his wife. Rabbi Yose said:
"From the hour in which death was decreed upon him and upon the whole world,
he said 'Why should I beget children for terror?' and instantly separated
from his wife." And two female spirits [Lilith and Naamah] would come and
copulate with him and bear children. and those whom they bore are the evil
spirits of the world who are called the Plagues of Mankind. And they lead the
sons of man astray, and dwell in the doorway of the house, and in the
cisterns and in the latrines.... But if the holy name Shaddai with supernal
crowns is found in the doorway of a man's house, they all flee and go away
from there. And we have learned that in the hour in which man descended to
the earth in the supernal image, in the image of the Holy One, and the higher
and lower beings saw him, they all approached him and proclaimed him king
over this world. After the Serpent mounted Eve and injected filth into her,
she gave birth to Cain. From thence descended all the wicked generations in
the world. And the abode of demons and spirits is from there and from his
side. Therefore, all the spirits and demons have one half from man below, and
the other half from the angels of the supernal realm. Thereafter Adam
begot on those spirits daughters who are the beauty of those above and those
below. And all went astray after them. And there was one male who came into
the world from the spirit of Cain's side, and they called Tubal-Cain. And a
female came forth with him, and the creatures went astray after her, and her
name was Naamah. From her issued other spirits and demons. and they hover in
the air and tell things to those others found below. And this Tubal-Cain
brought weapons of killing into the world. And this Naamah became aroused and
adhered to her [evil] side. And to this day she exists, and her abode is
among the waves of the great sea. And she comes forth, and makes sport with
the sons of man, and becomes hot from them in the dream, in that desire which
a man has, and she clings to him, and she takes the desire and from it she
conceives and brings forth other kinds [of spirits] into the world. And those
children whom she bears from the sons of man come to the women, and they
conceive from them and bear spirits. And all of them go to Lilith the
Ancient, and she rears them.... (Patai81:456f) And she goes out into the
world and seeks her children. And she sees the sons of man and clings to
them, in order to kill them, and to become absorbed into the souls of the
children of the sons of man, and she goes off with that child. But three holy
spirits arrive there and fly before her and take that child from her and
place him before the Holy One, blessed be He, and there he studies before
Him. Therefore the Tora warns, Be sacred (Lev. 19:2). If a man is holy, he is
not harmed by her, for the Holy One, blessed be He, orders those three holy
angels whom we have mentioned, and they guard that child, and she cannot harm
him. But if a man is not holy, and draws a spirit from the impure side, then
she comes and makes sport with that child, and when she kills him she
penetrates that soul [which departs from the child] and never leaves it....
(Patai81:466) At times it happens that Naamah goes forth into the world to
become hot from the sons of man, and a man finds himself in a connection of
lust with her, and he awakens from his sleep and takes hold of his wife and
lies with her. And this desire comes from that lust which he had in his
dream. Then the child that she begets comes from the side of Naamah, for the
man was driven by his lust for her. And when Lilith comes and sees that
child, she knows what happened, and she ties herself to him and brings him up
like all those other sons of Naamah. And she is with him many times, but does
not kill him. This is the man who becomes blemished on every New Moon, for
she never gives him up. For month after month, when the moon becomes renewed
in the world Lilith comes forth and visits all those whom she brings up, and
makes sport with them, and therefore that person is blemished at that time.
Zohar Sitrei Torah 1:147b-148b
Jacob had entered this gateway to faith. 
Adhering to that faith, he had to be tested
in the same place his fathers had been tested,
entering in peace and emerging in peace.
Adam entered but was not careful.
Seduced by her, he sinned with that whore of a woman,
the primordial serpent.
Noah entered but was not careful.
Seduced by her, he sinned as well,
as it is written: He drank of the wine and became drunk
and uncovered himself within his tent (Gen. 9:21)
Abraham entered and emerged,
as it is written:
And Abram went down to Egypt...
And Abram came up from Egypt (Gen. 12:10, 13:1)
Isaac entered and emerged,
as it is written: Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in
From there he went up to Be'er Sheva (Gen 26:1, 23)
Jacob, having entered into faith,
had to continue and probe the other side.
For one who is saved from there is a loved one,
a chosen one of the Blessed Holy One.
What is written?
Jacob left Be'er Sheva
the secret of the mystery of faith,
and set out for Haran
the side of the woman of whoredom, the adulteress. 
The secret of secrets:
Out of the scorching noon of Isaac,
out of the dregs of wine,
a fungus emerged, a cluster,
male and female together,
red as a rose,
expanding in many directions and paths.
The male is called Sama'el,
his female is always included within him.
Just as it is on the side of holiness,
so it is on the other side:
male and female embracing one another.
The female of Sama'el is called Serpent, 
Woman of Whoredom,
End of All Flesh, End of Days.
Two evil spirits joined together:
the spirit of the male is subtle;
the spirit of the female is diffused in many ways and paths
but joined to the spirit of the male.
She bedecks herself with all kinds of jewelry
like an abhorent prostitute posing on the corner to seduce men.
The fool who approches her--
she grabs him and kisses him, [Prov. 7:13]
pours him wine from the dregs, from the venom of vipers.
As soon as he drinks, he strays after her.
Seeimg him stray from the path of truth,
she strips herself of all her finery that she dangled before that fool,
her adornments for seducing men:
her hair all arranged, red as a rose,
her face white and red,
six trinkets dangling from her ears,
her bed covered with fabric from Egypt,
on her neck all the jewels of the East,
her mouth poised, a delicate opening,
what lovely trappings!
The tongue pointed like a sword,
her words smooth like oil,
her lips beautiful, red as a rose,
sweet with all the sweeetness of the world.
She is dressed in purple,
adorned with forty adornments minus one. 
This fool follows her, drinks from the cup of wine,
fornicates with her, deviates after her.
What does she do?
She leaves him sleeping in bed.
She ascends, denounces him, obtains permission, and descends.
That fool wakes up and plans to play with her as before.
But she removes her decorations
and turns into a powerful warrior confronting him.
Arrayed in armor of flashing fire,
his awesome terror vibrates the victim's body and soul.
He is full of fearsome eyes;
in his hand a sharp-edged sword drips bitter drops.
He kills that fool and flings him into hell.
Jacob descended to her, went straight to her abode, 
as it is said:
and he set out for Haran. 
He saw all the trappings of her house
and was saved from her.
Her mate, Sama'el, was offended
and swooped down to wage war
but could not overcome him,
as it is written:
And a man wrested with him... (Gen. 32:25)
Now he was saved and perfected,
raised to a perfect sphere and called Israel.
He attained a high rung, total perfection!
He became the central pillar, of whom it is written:
The center bar in the middle of the planks shall run from end to end (Exo.
And that spirit which is called Asirta becomes stirred up...and goes to the
female who is beneath all females. And she is Lilith the mother of demons.
And a man may become stirred up by that evil spirit called Asirta, which
attaches himself to that man and ties himself to him permanently. And on
every New Moon that spirit of evil appearance becomes stirred up by Lilith,
and at time that man suffers harm from the spirit, and falls to the ground
and cannot get up, or even dies. (Patai81:462)
Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh, 19c
And behold, the harsh husk, that is Lilith, is always in the sheet of the bed
of a man and a woman who copulate, in order to take the sparks of the drops
of seed which go waste, because it cannot be without this, and she creates
from them demons, spirits and Lilin. And there is an incantation to drive
away Lilith from the bed and to bring forth holy souls, which is mentioned in
the holy Zohar. (Patai81:463f)
The remedy against Lilith is this: In that hour in which a man copulates with
his wife, he should concentrate in his head on the holiness of his Master and
O you who are wrapped in velvet,
You have appeared!
Neither come nor go!
Neither you nor yours!
Go back, go back!
The sea is raging,
Its waves call you,
I hold on to the Holy One,
Wrap myself in the King's holiness.
Then let him cover his head and his wife for one hour, and do thus each time
for three days of the receiving. For a grafting which is not received within
three days will not be received at all. But in the book which Ashmodai gave
to King Solomon it says for thirty days, and it says that after he finished
the act he should sprinkle clear water around the couch. (Patai81:463)
Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh, 102d-103a
The Alien Woman is Lilith, and she is the sweetness of sin and the evil
tongue. And from the lips of the Alien Woman honey flows. And although the
Impure Female has no hands and feet for copulation, for the feet of the
serpent were cut off, nevertheless the Female in her adornments looks as if
she had hands and feet. And it is the mystery of her adornments that she can
seduce men.... And she leaves the husband of her youth [Samael] and descends
and fornicates with men who sleep below in the impurity of spontaneous
emission, and from them are born demons and spirits and Lilin, and they are
called the Sons of Man. (Patai81:462ff)
R. Yitzhaq said: From the hour in which Cain killed Abel, Adam separated
himself from his wife, [and] two female spirits came and copulated with him,
and he begot spirits and demons which roam in the world. And this should not
be difficult for you [to understand], for when a man dreams, female spirits
come and play with him and get hot from him and thereafter bear [those
demons] which are called the Plagues of Mankind. And they turn into a
likeness of men, but they have no hair on their head.... And in a similar
manner male spirits come to the women of this world who become pregnant from
them and give birth to spirits and all of them are called Plagues of Mankind.
After 130 years Adam clothed himself in zeal and had union with his wife and
begot a son and called his name Seth (Patai81:471)
 Shekhinah, the openign to the realm of the sefirot, which are the object
of mystical faith. [Matt:227].
 The same phrase appears in rabbinic literature to describe Rabbi Akiva's
successful journey into the mystical orchard; see Tosefta, Hagigah 2:4; Shir
ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:28. [Matt:227].
 Here we find another perspective on Adam's sin: he was seduced by demonic
and sexual forces; cf. Zohar 1:140b; 2:245a. [Matt:227].
 E.g. Lilith. [AH]
. The Zohar associates Haran with haron, "wrath". cf. 1:78b (Sitrei Torah
. According to Matt::227f, both Isaac and the dregs mentioned here alude
to power and judgment overcoming love and mercy. This imbalance, according to
the passage, is at the root of the origins of the demonic. [AH]
. Red symbolizes the power of the left and the demonic [Matt:228]
. On Lilith = Serpent = Woman of Whoredom see 'Emeq haMelekh 23c-d. [AH]
The Zohar links sin, lust, and death. All these are the works of Lilit acting
in consort with Sama'el. The phrase "woman of whoredom" is from Hosea 1:2;
"end of all flesh" is from the story of the Flood, Genesis 6:13; cf. Zohar
. corresponding to the number of lashes administered by the court
according to rabbinic law; seee Deut. 25:3; Mishnah, Makkot 3:10. Lilit's
allurements soon turn into punishments. [Matt:228]
. Cf. Talmud Bava Batra 16a, where Satan's itinerary is described: "He
descends and leads astray, ascendas and arouses [God's] anger, obtains
permission and takes the soul." [Matt:228]
 Note the shift from feminine pronouns to masculine. Patai's translation
(Patai81:461f) keeps the feminine pronouns throughout. I have not checked the
Hebrew, but I suspect that that Matt is following it and Patai has corrected
what he perceived to be an error. If Matt is correct, then this is another
instance of gender mixture between Lilith and Samael. See my note on
Bacharach, 'Emeq haMelekh 23c-d. Matt simply comments "Lilit becomes Sama'el"
. He exposed himself to demonic and sexual temptation as part of his
journey of transformation. [Matt:228]
© Copyright 1995-1997 Alan Humm.
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