Lilith is a Hebrew name for a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud. Lilith is generally thought to be in part derived from a class of female demons - "Līlīṯu" in Mesopotamian texts of Assyria and Babylonia.
Evidence in later Jewish materials is plentiful, but little information has been found relating to the original Akkadian and Babylonian view of these demons. Recent scholarship now disputes the relevance of two sources previously used to connect the Jewish Lilith to an Akkadian Lilitu - the Gilgamesh appendix and the Arslan Tash amulets.
The Hebrew term Lilith, or "Lilit," which is translated as "Night creature," "night monster," "night hag" or "screech owl" first occurs in Isaiah 34:14. In the Dead Sea Scrolls Songs of the Sage, the term first occurs in a list of monsters. In Jewish magical inscriptions, on bowls and amulets from the 6th century CE onwards, Lilith is identified as a female demon, and the first visual depictions appear.
In Jewish folklore, from the 8th–10th century Alphabet of Ben Sira onwards, Lilith becomes Adam's first wife. She was created at the same time - Rosh Hashanah - and from the same earth as Adam. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam's ribs.
The legend of Lilith was greatly developed during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar, and Jewish mysticism. In the 13th century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with archangel Samael.
The Lilith legend is commonly used as source material in modern Western culture, literature, occultism, fantasy and horror.
Notes: (1) Gilgamesh: Gilgamesh was a historical figure. Inscriptions have been found which confirm the historical existence of other figures associated with him: such as the kings Enmebaragesi and Aga of Kish. If Gilgamesh was a historical king, he probably reigned in about the 26th century BCE. (2) Arslan Tash Amulets: Talismans found at Arslan Tash ("Stone Lion") in syria at the site of ancient Hadatu. (3) Dead Sea Scrolls: A collection of 972 texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Nabataean, which were discovered at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank. (4) Songs of the Sage: Also known as Songs of the Maskil, a fragmentary Hebrew language manuscript of a Jewish magical text of incantation and exorcism in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was specifically designed to protect against certain demons.