the problem of Lilith

The only place that “liliths” appear in the Bible is in Isaiah 34:14 which is a list of wild animals or devils — likely both in that the infestation of wild animals often is a physical representation or manifestation of the infestation of devils.

Isaiah 34:14 is one verse is a series of verses outlining the judgments of God against nations that have turned their backs to Him.  Taken in context, it is clear that one of the judgments or consequences of rejecting God is that the nation will become the abode of devils and wild unclean animals.

Judgment on Bozrah and Edom  Isaiah 34:6-15

For the LORD holds a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.

Wild oxen will fall together with them—young steers and mighty bulls.

Their land will be drenched with blood, and their soil will be swollen with fat.

For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for Zion’s cause.

Edom’s streams will be turned into burning sulfur, and its dust into sulfur; its land will become pitch.

It will burn night and day, and will never be extinguished.

Its smoke will rise from generation to generation, and it will lie desolate forever and ever.

And no one will pass through it.

“But hawks and hedgehogs will possess it; owls and ravens will nest in it.

God will stretch out over it a measuring line, and chaos, and plumb lines of emptiness, and its nobles.

They will name it “No Kingdom There,” and all its princes will come to nothing.

Thorns will grow over its palaces, nettles and brambles its fortresses.

It will become a haunt for jackals, a home for ostriches.

And desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and goat-devils will call out to each other.

There also liliths will settle, and find for themselves a resting place.

Owls will nest there, lay eggs, hatch them, and care for their young under the shadow of their wings; yes indeed, vultures will gather there, each one with its mate.

This concept of a land becoming the abode of devils and unclean birds is common to prophetic literature and the same phenomena is described by John in Revelation

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. (Revelation 18:12)

Contemporary to Isaiah at the time (~725BC) was increasing wickedness of Israel and adoption of the surrounding Assyrian, and Babylonian pagan religions.  It would then be these nations (whose religions that they chose over God) that would invade and overtake the northern kingdom of Israel (~722BC) and later the southern kingdom of Judah (~586BC).

Artifacts from the period reference lilith (a.k.a. lamia) only as a devils or classification of devils from Assyrian myths.  They are often depicted as devils that seek to seduce men to their deaths, similar to if not just another name for a succubus. It would not be unusual for Isaiah to include this term in his list of devils that will infest a nation that has turned its back on God since the terms would be familiar to his audience.

Lilith devils only begin to appear in jewish myths and mysticism during the captivity in Babylon and later Assyria.  They are not documented or described in jewish literature until the Babylonian Talmud was compiled over 900 years later in the 3rd-5th centuries AD.  Even so, it was until another 500 years later in the 8th-10th centuries when the devils Lilith is described as “Adam’s first wife” in the anonymously compiled medieval text called the “Alphabet of Sirach”.

This makes it unlikely that the “liliths” Isaiah had in mind when this verse was penned were related to the “Lilith, wife of Adam” myth.

In any case, one cannot hang an entire doctrine on a single verse, especially if that doctrine contradicts and conflicts with the rest of scripture.

Also, we should never reinterpret clear and unambiguous versus to make them fit a particular interpretation of ambiguous and unclear verses.  Instead, the clear and unambiguous verses should be used to clear up the ambiguous.

The problem of “Lilith” is that it conflicts with the justification for our salvation.  Sin and death didn’t enter into the world through “Lilith”, it entered in through one man, Adam.  Since it came into the world through one man, then our salvation can be made by one man, Jesus.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned … For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many …  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Romans 5:12-21)

Being that liliths consistently refers to a class of seductive devils it is not surprising that this shaky myth continues to distract people from the true word of God and to leave them questioning the reliability of scripture.  Since it was Satan’s first step in seducing Adam & Eve into sin by leading them to question “Yea, hath God said…”

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