Lilith and multiple Eves


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A question for our resident Jews - are there alternative stories or commentaries suggesting that there was more than one Eve in the Garden of Eden narrative?

Simply that I remember reading a Neil Gaiman short that had three Eves - the first dominated Adam and was thrown out, to wander the earth as Lilith; the second as rejected by Adam; and the third as the Eve we know from the Torah.

I had always presumed the short story was derived from Jewish legend, perhaps from the Talmud. However, I've never seen a reference since so am not sure whether it was all entirely within Gaiman's imagination.
There's an old joke answer for the conundrum, "Where did Cain get his wife?" -- "She was the daughter of Lilith and Steve!" Only religion-nerds get that one.
There's an old joke answer for the conundrum, "Where did Cain get his wife?" -- "She was the daughter of Lilith and Steve!" Only religion-nerds get that one.

...religious nerds and liberal activists who remember the anti-gay sign "It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve."

Just as funny: at age 7 our daughter loudly announced at a family gathering, "Cain and Abel must have had sex with their mother,"

"Why?" we asked.

"Because she was the only women around to have babies with." We didn't know about Lilith then.

More about Lilith later.
Apparently there were a variety of Lilith stories that circulated in ancient times and during the diaspora. Gnosis Archive* provides a summary of relevant portions of The Hebrew Myths by Robert Graves and Raphael Patai (New York: Doubleday, 1964), pp 65-69. I’ve further summarized and abridged it. These stories come from the oral tradition and were written down after the Hebrew Bible was completed.

Before Adam had a mate he tried coupling with each female animal in turn but found no satisfaction in the act. He prayed to God for a mate.

God then formed Lilith, the first woman, just as He had formed Adam, except that He used filth and sediment instead of pure dust. Lilith was a demoness and bore Adam demon children that still plague mankind.

Adam and Lilith never found peace together; for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent posture. Because Adam tried to compel her obedience by force, Lilith, in a rage, uttered the magic name of God, rose into the air and left him.

God sent three angels to fetch Lilith back. They found her beside the Red Sea, a region abounding in lascivious demons, with whom she bore demon children. Lilith refused to return to Adam, claiming she had been charged by God to kill newborn babies. She agreed to spare any child wearing an amulet with the names or likenesses of the angels.(I found another account which claimed she was charged with killing only sick infants.)

Some say that Lilith ruled as queen in Zmargad, and again in Sheba; and was the demoness who destroyed Job's sons. Yet she escaped the curse of death which overtook Adam, since they had parted long before the Fall. Lilith, along with another demoness, Naamah, not only strangle infants but also seduce dreaming men, any one of whom, sleeping alone, may become their victim.

God tried again to give Adam a suitable mate.This time He let him watch while he built up a woman's anatomy: using bones, tissues, muscles, blood and glandular secretions, then covering the whole with skin and adding tufts of hair in places. The sight caused Adam such disgust that even when this woman, the First Eve, stood there in her full beauty, he felt an invincible repugnance. God knew that He had failed once more, and took the First Eve away. Where she went, nobody knows for certain.

God tried a third time and acted more circumspectly. Having taken a rib from Adam's side in his sleep, He formed it into a woman; then plaited her hair and adorned her, like a bride, with twenty-four pieces of jewelry, before waking him. Adam was entranced.

Some say that God created Eve not from Adam's rib, but from a tail ending in a sting which had been part of his body. God cut this off, and the stump-now a useless coccyx-is still carried by Adam's descendants.

*This link doesn't work because I'm not yet allowed to post them yet.:(