Lilith (Hebrew: לילית; lilit, or lilith) is a character in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts. However, Lowell K. Handy (1997) notes, "Very little information has been found relating to the Akkadian and Babylonian view of these demons. Two sources of information previously used to define Lilith are both suspect." The two problematic sources are the Gilgamesh appendix and the Arslan Tash amulets, which are discussed below.
The term Lilith occurs in Isaiah 34:14, either singular or plural according to variations in the earliest manuscripts, though in a list of animals. In the Dead Sea Scrolls Songs of the Sage the term first occurs in a list of monsters. In Jewish magical inscriptions, on bowls and amulets from the 6th century CE onwards, Lilith is identified as a female demon and the first visual depictions appear.
In Jewish folklore, from the 8th–10th centuries Alphabet of Ben Sira onwards, Lilith becomes Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time and from the same earth as Adam. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam's ribs. The legend was greatly developed during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar and Jewish mysticism. In the 13th Century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, for example, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with archangel Samael. The resulting Lilith legend is still commonly used as source material in modern Western culture, literature, occultism, fantasy, and horror.