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Read "Woman" from The Legends of the Jews

Take this link to the contents page of volume one The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg.

Then take the link to "Woman" in chapter two.

If this does not work, try this freeliterature.com link, and scroll down to the "Woman" section. (Taking the link does not seem to work).

You will then find the apocryphal writings of the ancient Hebrews and learn that Eve was not Adam's first wife and that the creation of Eve was not so simple as you might have thought.     

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Lady Lilith, 1868, 1872-73
from
www.wwnorton.com/nael/nto/victorian/ painterly/imlilith.htm

Foucault has identified "the politics of truth," asserting that social, political, cultural, religious, and philosophical situations affect what each of us perceives as true.  Feminists will see the exclusion of the Lilith myths (from the Jewish and Christian canon) as being a political truth.  It might have been dangerous theologically for either religion to admit that Adam (and so men) was (were) equal to Lilith (women) and that God made a mistake in creating her or could not control her. 

Lilith, of course, is Adam's first wife, as found in the apocryphal writings of the Hebrew tradition. She was perhaps created to explain the discrepancy between the two creation accounts, or she might be a vestigial product of the feminine language and ideology (woman's energy as creative, similar to Greek myth) of the early myths before they were preempted, corrupted, displaced by patriarchal creation myths.

Feminists can see Lilith from a variety of perspectives:

  Lilith's existence (in myth) shows that God did not initially subordinate women.
  Lilith's existence (in myth) shows that creative energy can be located within the female.
  Lilith's exclusion and vilification betrays patriarchal or misogynist bias.
  Lilith's exclusion chronicles social change, as it indicates a loss of power by women in ancient "developing" Israel.
  Lilith's decision indicates the free will of women and shows that they can resist male domination.

Lilith is an incarnation of the archetype of the madwoman who is dangerous and destructive to civilized society.  Eve exists as her foil, the ideal woman--who really is not very ideal--who is emotional rather than rational, supportive of the patriarchal policies, and naturally subordinate to man.

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Contact Kimberly M. Radek, the instructor of Women in Literature, at Kimberly_Radek@ivcc.edu

This page was last updated on 21 April 2008 . Copyright Kimberly M. Radek, 2001.