Adam's First Wife Lillith Painted by Michæl Angelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Lilith, (Adams first wife) pictured in The Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.
Had there been an order of female rabbis the story of Lilith might have borne obvious modifications, and she might have appeared as a heroine anxious to rescue her sex from slavery to man. As it is the immemorial prerogative of man to lay all blame upon woman, that being part of the hereditary following of Adam, it is not wonderful that Lilith was in due time made responsible for the temptation of Eve. She was supposed to have beguiled the Serpent on guard at the gate of Eden to lend her his form for a time, after which theory the curse on the serpent might mean the binding of Lilith forever in that form. This would appear to have originated the notion mentioned in Comestor (Hist. Schol., 12th cent.), that while the serpent was yet erect it had a virgin’s head. The accompanying example is from a very early missal in the possession of Sir Joseph Hooker, of which I could not discover the date or history, but the theory]is traceable in the eighth century. In this picture we have an early example of those which have since become familiar in old Bibles. Pietro d’Orvieto painted this serpent-woman in his finest fresco, at Pisa. Perhaps in no other picture has the genius of Michæl Angelo has been more felicitous than in that on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in which Lilith is portrayed. In this picture the marvelous beauty of his first wife appears to have awakened the enthusiasm of Adam; and, indeed, it is quite in harmony with the earlier myth that Lilith should be of greater beauty than Eve.