- A Tale of Two Sisters: The Image of Eve in Early Rabbinic Literature and Its Influence on the Portrayal of Lilith in the Alphabet of Ben Sira
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 32, Spring 5778/2018
- pp. 112-130
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- Additional Information
The purposes of this paper are (1) to outline the early Jewish traditions concerning Lilith, so as to provide the backdrop for (2) the reconstruction of the main elements of her image in the Alphabet of Ben Sira (ABS), which contains the most elaborate variant of the Lilith-myth. The latter in turn will be (3) confronted with the early rabbinic traditions concerning Eve, so as (4) to present the role of Lilith in unburdening Eve of her problematic past, on the one hand, and (5) to acknowledge the role of Eve in elevating Lilith to the position of the “prototypical” Jewish femme fatale, on the other. The conclusions are that (1) the image of Lilith in the ABS draws upon the traditions that arose around Eve in the early rabbinic literature, (2) the main difference between the two lies in Lilith’s far more defined and unambiguous portrayal in the ABS, and (3) one of the functions of Lilith in the ABS is to promote the positive image of Eve.