Lilith’s Origins According to the Zohar
Perhaps the most important passage on Lilith’s origins in the Zohar comes in Zohar 1:19b (Bereshit: Passages
98-102). The passages explain that Lilith’s body was created just like Adam’s from the dust of earth.
However, her body came to host the defective animating spark of life that was of Samael, whereas Adam’s
body came to host the animating spark of Jehovah’s perfect light. Lilith is also linked to curses and the death
of children. The passages begin by discussing how when God let lights come to exist in expanse of the
heavens on creation day 4, this was an event of cursing. The Zohar explains this notion by pointing out that
Genesis uses a defective spelling of me’orot , which means “lights”. A missing a letter vahv (w) in me’orot lets
it to be understood as me’erat, which means “to curse”. This defective light is the light of Samael. One may
suppose at this point on day 4, Samael entered creation following his failed rebellion against God.
Zohar 1:19b (Bereshit: Passages 98-101)
98 And Elohim said let there be me’orot (lights) in the expanse of heaven (Ge 1:14). Me’orot is spelled deficiently as
me’erat (meaning to curse), thus diphtheria was created for children. After the radiance of primordial light was treasured
away, a shell was created for the kernel (of light). That shell expanded, generating another shell. Emerging, she
ascended and descended, arriving at the small faces. She desired to cling to them, be portrayed in them, and never
depart. The bless Holy One separated her form there, bringing her down below when he created Adam, so that this
would be perfected in this world.
99 As soon as she saw Eve cleaving to the side of Adam, beauty above, as soon as she saw the complete image, she
flew away, desiring as before to cleave to the small faces. Those guardians of the gates on high did not allow her. The
blessed Holy One rebuked her and cast her to the bottom of the sea.
100 She dwelled there until Adam and his wife sinned. Then the blessed Holy One plucked her form there, and she
rules over all those children – small faces of humanity – who deserve to be punished for the sins of their fathers. She
flies off, roaming through the world. Approaching the earthly Garden of Eden, she sees cherubs guarding the gates of
the Garden, and she dwells there by that flaming sword (Ge 3:24), for she emerged from the side of that flame.
101 As the flame revolves she flees and roams the world, finding children who deserved to be punished. She toys with
them and kills them. This happens in the waning of the moon, whose light diminishes; this is me’orot (lights) deficient.
After noting how Samael’s defective light entered creation on day 4, the passages go on to describe its
ramification on the creation of Lilith and Adam on day 6. It notes that God creation a shell, or klipah, to house
Jehovah’s primordial pure light. This shell was Adam’s body. It is clear from Zohar 1:20a that the klipah refers
to the body, and the radiant spark within refers to its spirit.
Zohar 1:20a (Bereshit: Passage 109)
In this image, the human being exists in this world with an inner part and an outer kilpah, which corresponds to a spirit
and a body.
After Adam’s klipah, or body, was created, Zohar 1:19b notes that Adam’s shell expanded and Lilith’s emerged
from it. Lilith’s shell did not house God’s pure light. This is why her creation is mentioned in context of the
defective light which entered creation. Zohar 1 (Bereshit Passage 393) is quite clear on this. It says, “Let
there be lights (me'orot), everything derives from it. It also includes the creation of Lilit in the world.” The
closing passage of Zohar 1:19b also established this link between Lilith and the defective light. It states her
power to slay children increases when the moon’s light wanes and is defective. Lilith’s separating shell hosting
the defective light of Samael is in apparent reference to the Genesis event where the mist broke through the
ground and watered the face of Adamah.
Zohar 1:19b notes that when the defective light entered creation, the curse of diphtheria for children was
created. The Zohar closely links diphtheria to Lilith. Zohar 2:264b states the Lilith strikes children with this
disease, and Zohar 2:267b relate that Lilith and Diphtheria are two distinct but kindred spirits. The Zohar may
have selected the disease of Diphtheria as emblematic of Lilith because of its unusual traits. Diphtheria is an
upper respiratory illness caused by a bacteria. It symptoms include a swollen throat and “bull neck”, and an
adherent membrane that grows on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity. This membrane is a leathery,
sheath-like skin. Victims died of suffocation when the leathery membrane growths closed their air passages.
Diphtheria is very contagious, although in modern times it has been eradicated through wide-spread
vaccination. In the past it was a particularly deadly disease to children, with some outbreaks killing 80% of
children under the age of 10 in affected regions. This disease may have thus been selected by the Zohar
because of its eerie characteristics. The sight of a leathery skin growth slowly closing the air passages of its
victims must have been quite horrifying. The swelling of the neck and leathery skin growth may have made it
appear as a though a terrible physical transformation was overcoming the victim analogous to the horrible
cursing of swelling and rotting skin for the Sotah during her trial.
Zohar 1:19b relates that after Lilith was created, she ascended and attempted to mate with the “small faces”
This is in apparent reference to angels, whom are likened to children in appearance (Zohar 1:228b, 3:60b,
217b). But God separated her from there when Adam’s creation was finished. But when Lilith saw Eve
attached to Adam’s side, she flees from him, attempting to have sex with the angels once more. God then
dispatches her to the depths of the sea, and she dwelt there until Adam and his wife sinned. Lilith’s being cast
to the bottom of the sea is in apparent reference to her enslavement to the bitter water curses of the Sotah,
not to her physical confinement. According to the Zohar, when Eve sinned in turning aside from Adam, God
set free the spirit of Lilith in the world to unleash her curses upon sinners. She rules over all infants who
deserve to be punished because of the sins of their fathers. The passages continue that she dwells at the
gates of the Garden of Eden by the flaming sword, because she originated from the side of that flame (a flame
of judgment). The passages conclude that Lilith’s slaying of children occurs when the moon ‘s light diminishes,
and this diminishing is tied to the defective light of Lucifer that brought about Lilith’s creation in the opening
verse of this passage.
More details surrounding Lilith’s origins may be surmised by Zohar 2:xxx (Vayikra: Passages 316-317). Those
passages flatly state that Lilith was first with Adam. It also relates that when Adam was created, a thousand
spirits attempted to enter his body. But God rebuked the spirits and prevented it from happening. At that time
a cloud descended and scattered the spirits, shortly thereafter Adam was animated by Jehovah’s breath.
These spirits, being rebuked of God, were those of Lucifer and his angels. We know from Zohar 1:19b that
Lilith was animated first before Adam. From this we may conclude that although God did prevent the spirits
from entering Adam’s body, he did not prevent them from entering Lilith’s. They entered her and animated her
after the likeness of Lucifer. Shortly thereafter God’s cloud descended and scattered the spirits, and Adam in
turn was animated by Jehovah’s spirit. Combing this with our knowledge of Ge 2, we would also conclude the
spirits entered Lilith via the mist which broke through from the ground.
Zohar 2:xxx (Vayikra : Passages 316-317)
316. Come and see: In a hole by the great, supernal abyss, there is a certain female, a spirit above all spirits. We have
explained that its name is Lilit. She was first with Adam. When Adam was created and his body perfected, a thousand
spirits came on the body from the left side. This one wanted to enter it and that one wanted to enter it, but they could not.
The Holy One, blessed be He, scolded them. Thus, Adam lay down spiritless, green in appearance, with all those spirits
317. At that time, a cloud descended and pushed aside all the spirits (which surrounded Adam). ...
We learn of Lilith’s intrinsically fused nature with Samael in Zohar 1:148a-148b (Vayetze: Passage 23). There
she is called the “female of Samael,” whom is Lucifer. She and Samael, female and male are one, just like
Adam and Eve were one before she was taken from him. A footnote to the passages further explains, “Samael
is like the soul and Lilith like the body. Deeds are wrought by Lilith with the power of Samael.” This confirms
that the defective light of Lilith’s klipah in Zohar 1:19b is the spirit of Samael, whom is Lucifer. This is also
seen in the parallels between Yitzchak’s light and the dregs of wine in Zohar 1:148. Yitzchak’s light (Isaac’s
light of Jehovah) was that which created Adam and Eve, just as the dregs of wine yielded Samael and Lilith. It
is fascinating that the Zohar links Lilith’s evil with dregs of wine, which has obvious parallels to the bitter waters
of the Sotah.
Zohar 1:148a-148b (Vayetze: Passage 23)
A deep mystery is found in the strength of Yitzchak's light, and from the dregs of wine. One shape emerged (from both),
made of male and female (Good and Evil), as one. The male is called “Samael”, and his female is always included with
him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on “the other side” there are male and female,
included one with the other. The female of Samael is called “snake”, “a wife of harlotry”, “the end of all flesh”, “the end of
days”. Two evil spirits are attached to one another. The male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several
ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit.
Another important Zohar passage clearly links the Serpent to Lilith. It also emphasizes the strange union
between Samael and Lilith. In Zohar 2:xxx (Pekudei: Passage 454), the serpent is compared to a lying harlot,
full of flattery and deception. The serpent practices the art of seduction, and instigates rebellions in the
world. Note the passage attributes these powers to the serpent itself, and not from Samael who rides her.
Thus the serpent’s power to speak and subtly seduce and deceive was inate in her creation. This is what we
would expect from the Lilith myth.
Zohar 2:xxx (Pekudei: Passage 454)
When Adam was in the Garden of Eden and was occupied in worshipping his Master, Samael went down with all the
grades in him, and was riding on the evil serpent to deviate them. As the serpent underneath was subtle, and led astray
and seduced people, as it is written, "For the lips of a strange woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil"
(Mishlei 5:3). He gives power and she practices the art (of seduction and instigation) in the world, and they cannot rule
the one without the other.