In order to prove a common root; legends should become more interwoven the further back in history we go. In other words, stories from different cultures should begin to have similar traits. The story of Noah’s ark is an excellent example. Tales of Global floods are present in many religions outside of Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic. Furthermore, most of these tales are related in that they each tell not only of a great deluge, but also of a limited population of animals and people who survived the catastrophe by some form of divine foreknowledge of it. This worldwide sharing of a common theme between cultures, religions, and peoples would tend to indicate that there existed at one time a root story, which has been handed down through different societies and over time has been altered to fit specific regions.
In researching the legends about vampires a single name surfaces continually like a beacon. That name is Lilith. Lilith is believed by some to be the first wife of Adam, a woman who existed prior to the creation of Eve. The story basically states that Adam and Lilith were each created from dust. Lilith’s dust was dirtier than Adam’s. When Adam approached her for the purpose of having sex, Lilith refused to be subservient to him, questioning why she should be made to lie beneath him. When Adam attempted to force her, she called upon the secret name of God and fled from Eden to the banks of the Red Sea. There, she mated with demons and gave birth to demons until God sent three angels to make her return to Adam.
Lilith claimed that due to the things she had done since leaving him she could not return to Adam. The angels told her that if she did not return to Adam, she would die. Again Lilith argued, stating that she had been created immortal, a being which could not die. The angels then told Lilith that one hundred of her children would be slain for each day that she refused to return to Adam. In response, Lilith vowed to kill one unprotected child for every one of her children that was destroyed. An arrangement was reached and God created Eve for Adam while Lilith became the first vampire and slipped into the role of being Queen of the Demons, alternately seducing men and eating children, and making guest appearances throughout history.
Those who have read the Bible, however, may know that there is no mention of any such person as Lilith in the book of Genesis, although she is mentioned in the book of Isaiah (34:14). There is also no mention of Adam ever having had a first wife. Delving a bit deeper, one may discover a Lilith mentioned in the Midrash. Further investigation will show the recurrence of the tale of the first wife of Adam in the Talmud. For those who are unfamiliar with these books, the Midrash is a collection of Hebrew legends, and the Talmud is a Hebrew text, written by rabbis as a type of written interpretation of oral traditions associated with the Torah. The Old Testament of the Bible is essentially the Christian version of the Torah and therefore the Torah and its associated books become a good resource for researching Biblical mythology.
In returning to our topic, we see repeated in the Midrash the belief that Adam had a wife before Eve. Lilith is never named as this first wife. She is However, mentioned four times in the Talmud as a longhaired demon. Since this is the form that Adams first wife is reported to have taken after leaving him, we can reasonably assume that the two myths have become intertwined over time, making Lilith the first wife of Adam. The belief that Adam had a first wife at all is based on the fact that the creation of man and woman is described twice in the story of creation. The first description, “as man and woman He created them,” varies greatly from the second description, “God formed man from the dust... and the Lord fashioned into a woman the rib, which He had taken from the man.” The reasoning of the rabbis who wrote the Midrash was that the variations in the two descriptions meant that they were actually related to two separate incidents. It is important to note however, that this line of reasoning is flawed by two major arguments.
The first of these arguments is the fact that each of these descriptions tells not only of the creation of a woman, but also of a man. If the rabbis had been correct in reaching their conclusion, then one must assume that God did not merely create one man and two women. The implication would be that God created two women and two men. The second argument involves the fact that both descriptions of creation also explain the populating by God of a planet with plants and animals. To follow the thinking of the rabbis, one must in fact accept the theory that God created not only two men and two women, but also two entire planets, each containing oceans, rivers and atmospheres, and each thriving with life.
So where did the story of Lilith come from and how did it come to be so closely related to the story of creation? The answer to that question comes in understanding a bit about the early Hebrews. The Hebrews believed that their god was the one true God and that all other gods worshipped by their neighboring nations were in fact demons. They incorporated this belief into their teachings by associating the gods of other nations with demons in their own religion. It is in this manner that the Babylonian god Baal becomes Baalzbub (or Beelzebub). The same is true of Lilith. She is not in herself a character relevant to Judaism; she is a fragment of other religions, which was incorporated into Judaic tradition to give name to a demon created out of the misunderstanding of the two parts of the story of creation.
The rabbis drew from a wealth of mythology provided by their Mesopotamian neighbors, primarily the Canaanites, the Sumerians, and the Greeks. Each of these cultures has, in their respective pantheons, a goddess who fits the basic description of Lilith, without the first wife of Adam bit of course. Since we are looking for the roots of the vampire, and not a marital record of Adam, that part of the myth is basically irrelevant to us anyway. It served merely as a platform from which to begin our investigation of the theory of first vampire, which we will continue now by exploring the pantheons of the Mesopotamian neighbors of the Hebrews.