Seeing the best in life's challenges

Adam’s First Wife

on February 4, 2012

In Genesis 1:27, on the sixth day, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”

In Genesis 2, we are told the story of Adam.  God forms him from the dust of the earth, but Adam is alone in the Garden.  And no suitable helper is found for him.

Most of us have probably never thought about it, but these two stories seem a little inconsistent.  What happened to the females that were created?  Why is Adam alone?  Apparently, this inconsistency was enough to prompt the Jewish rabbis to come up with a story to explain it.

Midrash is a form of rabinnic literature, a form of storytelling that explores ethics and values in biblical text.  It is used to interpret, answer a question or explain something in the text.  It can be considered folklore.

Before you decide that I am a heretic, hear me out.  The Bible is full of mystery.  I believe that God wants us to dissect it, consider it, think about it, dig for the truth and the nuggets of wisdom.  The way lessons are taught in the Bible is through stories, which are metaphors.  Jesus spoke in parables, and he explained why in Luke 8:10.

So, the story to explain this discrepancy goes, that Adam had a first wife named Lillith.  Adam and Lillith got into a disagreement.  Adam insisted that he was the man, and he was in charge.  Lillith argued that they were both created at the same time by God, so that they were equal.  They could not resolve this argument, so Lillith left.

So next, we find Adam alone in the Garden.  Think about how depressed Adam must be at this point, as his beloved has just rejected and left him.  It’s no wonder that no suitable helper can be found for him.  So we all know the story, how God puts him to sleep, takes his rib, and forms Eve.  Now, Adam’s new woman was not created equal to him – no doubt in this case that Adam can argue that he is in charge.

So, all should be well for Adam now, right?  Well, not really, because this submissive woman turns out to be easy to manipulate, and it is the serpent that figures this out.  We all know that story.

So, I step back and think about this as a parable.  Aren’t these situations very recognizable?  To me they reflect human nature, and the struggles couples go through in trying to find balance in relationships.

I think about this perfectly matched couple, Adam and Lillith, who were made for each other at the beginning of time.  I imagine how painful their split must have been.  A split that was a result of their competing egos, their need to control the other and their need to be the one who was “right”.  Do you know couples with this kind of relationship?

Then, I think of poor Adam, feeling sorry for himself, all alone.  He will not be satisfied until he finds a woman that he can take care of and be in charge of.  I am sure he has noble intentions, and will take good care of his Eve.  But he does not view her as equal.  She is the weaker sex and cannot stand up for herself.  This makes Adam feel strong and important, like a man.  Do you know couples that fit this profile?

And what about Lillith?  Where did she go after leaving Adam?  I wonder if she went and found a man that she could boss around.  If you google Lillith, you will find that legend has demonized her.  In a patriarchal world, a pushy bitch is not exactly welcome.  But again, this kind of relationship, where a woman dominates a man, is familiar.  And, might I say, a relationship that makes many men very uncomfortable.

So, in the end, wouldn’t it be awesome if Adam and Lillith could somehow gain the wisdom to know that, the ultimate relationship is about giving, not getting?  That the only way to win at the relationship game, is for both parties to put the needs and dreams of the other person before one’s own?  A true partnership that recognizes the different, but equally important, attributes of each side.

My view is that each of us is working toward that goal and that understanding.  Relationships are not easy.  It is hard work to find the balance and there are bumps along the way.

But until we approach the place of unconditional love with our partner, of giving everything we have, of sharing and accepting the other for who they are, of putting aside ego…..we still have work to do and lessons to learn.

It’s April 10 and I just ran across this article – wow.  Here’s what is says about Adam and Lillith:

The story of Eden is that first there were created man and woman, Adam and Lilith. Lilith was a woman of power and self knowing, equal to Adam. When the ego begins to run the show we fear others who may appear to be stronger, because we judge ourselves weaker beside them. Adam became concerned that Lilith was getting the upper hand. He complained to God. Lilith could no longer stay with Adam because she was growing and he was attempting to stay the same for safety. 

So God put Adam to sleep (the state of separation) and created Eve from Adam’s rib. He now felt bigger, stronger and very protective—which soon became possessive. Eve’s submissiveness allowed Adam to be in control. He had not realized when Lilith was there how much balance she created. Now he had to be responsible for himself as well as make the “right decisions” for Eve. He was in complete control; however, control is full of fear, and soon he did not even trust God. Little by little the fear closed Eden to Adam, and he moved into the land of Nod. 

6 responses to “Adam’s First Wife

  1. Weareone says:

    I like your take on this, however as women I think we need to take accountability for our egos and not go into victim mode and blame the patriarchy for everything. I bet Lilith had as much responsibility as Adam – yet she caused the first abandonment issue between men and women. Why didn’t she stay and try to work out with Adam what he was intimidated by? What did she do that threatened him? Once we women stop blaming men for everything and being a “victim” of Adam or the serpent – we will truly be powerful. Men have a legitimate reason to be scared of our shadow as we are of theirs.

  2. […] I’m thinking about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, before the serpent came on the scene.  From what we are told, the people were all walking around naked and didn’t give that a second thought.  When I say “the people” I am referring to those God made, male and female, in Genesis 1:27.   It’s not so clear in the Bible that Adam and Eve were the only people there in the Garden.  But even if they were, we know that Adam and Eve had no idea about being “Modest” until AFTER the incident with the apple.  (For a related discussion of the creation story, see Adam’s First Wife.) […]

  3. […] The last separation or split of the soul, into the embodiment of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, is described as having been the most painful split – one soul into two equal and opposite half-wholes of the same soul.  These are referred to as Twin Souls, Twin Flames, sometimes Divine Complements.  This concept is at the heart of the longing of each individual to “find their other half” or to feel “completed.”  Again, a concept that words cannot begin to describe.  The story of Adam and Lillith parting, and the resulting loneliness experienced by Adam, who tried to “solve” his wound by finding a suitable companion is a story which describes this process.  See Adam’s First Wife. […]

  4. Lynda says:

    Wonderful food for thought. Thank you! For me the key is that unconditional love for the other and for the self when we forget!

  5. Leslie says:

    Thanks for reminding me. This explains The Lillith Fair Tour from the 90’s.

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