A female demon who appears in Isaiah 34.14 as part of a description of the Lord's day of vengeance. The figure of Lilith may have evolved out of Babylonian demonology. In some postbiblical Jewish midrashic texts, she is depicted as a slayer of infants and women in pregnancy and childbirth, for which reason amulets were used against her destructive powers. The early medieval Alphabet of Ben Sira draws on 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. Feminist readings of this and other texts about Lilith have observed that the male authors of the Lilith material created an antithesis to Eve, who is depicted here as more docile and dependent and, unlike Lilith, as a begetter and nurturer of children. These readings also draw positive attention to Lilith's self‐reliance and demand for equality in societies in which women were legally and socially subordinated to men.
Barbara Geller Nathanson