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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Lilith

Mythic, Hebrew, references date as far back as circa 2000 B.C.E.

References to Lilith in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2000 B.C.E.) identify her as an evil spirit and a night demon that harmed male children. According to Hebrew myth, however, Lilith—and not Eve—was Adam’s first wife, and the two were created at the same time, suggesting their equality. Refusing to accept an inferior role, Lilith fled the Garden of Eden. When Adam complained to God, God sent three angels to retrieve Lilith, who was living beside the Red Sea giving birth to the children of lascivious demons at the rate of more than 100 per day. When she refused to return to Adam, God punished her defiance by causing 100 of her demon children to perish daily and by condemning her to be Satan’s wife. Feminists sometimes use Lilith as a symbol of female independence and rebellion.

Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). <em>The Dinner Party</em> (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography
Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

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