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Lilith (Storm Demon)

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For other uses of the name Lilith, see Lilith (disambiguation).


Lilith (Hebrew: לילית Lilit; Arabic: ليليث ‎Līlīt) is a female Mesopotamian storm demon associated with wind and was thought to be a bearer of disease, illness, and death.

The figure of Lilith first appeared in a class of wind and storm demons or spirits as Lilitu, in Sumer, circa 4000 BC. Many scholars place the origin of the phonetic name "Lilith" at somewhere around 700 BC despite post-dating even to the time of Moses.


Etymology

Hebrew לילית Lilit, Akkadian Līlītu are female nisba adjectives from the Proto-Semitic root LYL "night", literally translating to nocturnal "female night being/demon", although cuneiform inscriptions where Līlīt and Līlītu refers to disease-bearing wind spirits exist. Another possibility is association not with "night" but with "wind", i.e. identification of Akkadian Lil-itu as a loan from Sumerian lil "air", specifically from Sumerian NIN.LIL "lady air", goddess of the South wind and wife of Enlil.

The Akkadian masculine līlû shows no nisba suffix and has been compared to Sumerian (kiskil-) lilla.


Kiskil-lilla and the Burney Relief

Lilith is also identified with ki-sikil-lil-la-ke, a female being in the Sumerian prologue to the Gilgamesh epic. Ki-sikil-lil-la-ke is sometimes translated as Lila's maiden, companion, his beloved or maid, and she is described as the "gladdener of all hearts" and "maiden who screeches constantly". Another female being (or ephithet for Lilith) is mentioned alongside Ki-sikil-lil-la-ke: Ki-sikil-ud-da-ka-ra or "the maiden who has stolen the light" or " the maiden who has seized the light" and identifies her with the moon.