5.2) Lilith as the Serpent in the Zohar

The Zohar also teaches that Lilith is the Serpent who deceived Eve.  Zohar 1:148a-148b (Vayetze: Passage 23) calls Lilith a “snake” and the “female of Samael.”  It also calls her “a wife of harlotry.”  The passages speak of the Serpent Lilith’s intrinsically fused nature with Samael (Lucifer).  She and Samael are one, just as Adam and Eve were one before Eve was taken from him.  A footnote to the passages further explains, “Samael is like the soul and Lilith like the body.  Deeds are wrought by Lilith with the power of Samael.”  This is true because Samael is the animating spirit of Lilith.  This is in keeping with the notion that the defective light of Lilith’s klipah in Zohar 1:19b is the spirit of Samael. 

Zohar 1:148a-148b (Vayetze: Passage 23)

     A deep mystery is found in the strength of Yitzchak’s light, and from the dregs of wine.  One shape emerged (from both), made of male and female (Good and Evil), as one.  The male is called “Samael”, and his female is always included with him.  Just as on the side of holiness, there are male and female, so on “the other side” there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called “snake”, “a wife of harlotry”, “the end of all flesh”, “the end of days.”  Two evil spirits are attached to one another.  The male spirit is fine; the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths and is attached to the male spirit.

Another important passage comes in Zohar 2 (Pekudei: Passage 454).  The passage clearly links the Serpent to Lilith.  It also once again emphasizes the strange union between Samael and Lilith.  In the passage the Serpent is called a seductive woman, full of flattery and deception.  The Serpent practices the art of seduction, and instigates rebellions in the world.  Note that the passage attributes these powers to the Serpent itself, and not from Samael who rides her.  Thus, the Serpent’s power to speak, to subtly seduce, and to deceive were innate in her creation.  This is what we expect from the Lilith myth.

Zohar 2 (Pekudei: Passage 454)

     When Adam was in the Garden of Eden and was occupied in worshipping his Master, Samael went down with all the grades in him, and was riding on the evil serpent to deviate them.  As the serpent underneath was subtle, and led astray and seduced people, as it is written, “For the lips of a strange woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil” (Mishlei 5:3), He gives power and she practices the art (of seduction and instigation) in the world, and they cannot rule the one without the other.

The Zohar has two passages that have caused many to surmise that it teaches that the Serpent had physical intercourse with Eve, and that the result was Cain.  At first, this idea may seem outlandish because the Serpent is female.  However, recall that the Zohar teaches that the Serpent is androgynous with both male and female aspects.  Although the Serpent certainly appears to have had intercourse with Eve based on only the two passages below in isolation, we shall see this is almost certainly not the case.  The passages speak of a spiritual, not physical, insemination.  It is likely the Zohar purposely makes it teachings on Eve’s guilt in this matter confusing, as this uncertainty best follows the mysteries of the bitter water trial, where the guilt of the woman is always in question. 

Beresheet A passage 455 states that two individuals had intercourse with Eve.  These two individuals are commonly assumed to be the Serpent and Adam.  The passage is then understood to say that from the Serpent came evil Cain, and from Adam came Able.   

Zohar 1 (Beresheet A: Passage 455)

     After this, they gave birth to the first son.  He was the son of defilement, because two had intercourse with Eve and she conceived from both and gave birth to two (Cain and Able).  Each resembled his own father and their spirits were separated, one to the side (of impurity) and one to the side (of Holiness). Each was in the appearance of his own aspect.

Chayei Sara passage 19 bluntly states that the Serpent injected impurities into Eve.  This is commonly seen as a reference to semen. 

Zohar 2 (Chayei Sara: Passage 19)

     Come and behold: Eve came into the world and clung to the serpent. He injected impurities into her. 

The common understanding of these two passages, that the Serpent had intercourse with Eve, is probably wrong.  There are other passages in the Zohar that conflict with the notion that the Serpent had physical intercourse with Eve.  Beresheet B passages 349-350 states that neither Able nor Cain were born in the image of Adam.  They were both produced by “attachment” to the Serpent and Samael.  Cain was born in the image of defilement.  Able was born in the image of Holiness.  It is inconceivable that the Serpent could be physically responsible for Able’s conception in Holiness.  Therefore, the Zohar must be indicating that Cain and Able were produced through spiritual and mystical inseminations.  These inseminations mirror those in the Bitter Water trial, and they are caused by the spirits of Jehovah and the Serpent.  Therefore, in passage 455 above, the two who had intercourse with Eve would be the spirits of God and the Serpent, and not the physical Adam and Lilith.  I hold that the mystical inseminations derive from the bitter water judgment which Eve underwent.  Cain is the seed of adultery in the image of the Serpent Lilith.  It bruises the heel of the promised seed, Abel.  However, unto the innocent woman modeled in Eve, a replacement seed is granted.  This seed is Seth, who Genesis says was a replacement for Able, whom Cain slew. 

Zohar 1 (Beresheet B: Passage 349-350)
     Rabbi Yehuda continued by saying, “And he begot [Seth] in his own likeness after his own image” (Beresheet 5:3). This indicates that his other sons (Cain and Able) were not after his likeness, but Seth was in his own likeness and after his image, both physically and spiritually. As Rabbi Shimon said, in the name of Rabbi Yeba Saba (the elder), Adam’s other sons had been produced in defilement, through attachment to the serpent and its rider, who is Samael.  Hence, they bore no resemblance to Adam. Even though Able, unlike Cain, was from the side (of purity and not from the Serpent), neither had the form of the image of Adam.  

     Rabbi Yosi says: It is written: “Adam knew his wife, Chavah, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain” (Beresheet 4:1), but it is not written that Adam begot Cain.  This was not written of Able either.  Instead, it is written: “and she further gave birth to his brother, Able” (Beresheet 4:2).  And here lies the concealed truth (that even Able was not born in the image of Adam), but of Seth it is written: “And he begot in his own likeness, after his image.”  .

That the above passages speak of spiritual inseminations is supported by Beresheet B passage 331.  It states that Adam physically begot both Cain and Abel.  Cain was fathered before Adam repented and was thus born of defilement.  Able was fathered after Adam had repented and was thus born of purity.  It is probable that Eve mystically conceived the spirits of both Cain and Able at the time of her cursing before God.  This is because many scholars believe Cain and Able to be twin brothers.  This stems from the fact that the Bible states that Adam knew his wife only once, yet both brothers were the result.  Thus, both may have been spiritually conceived (or at least received their images) at the same time during Eve’s cursing before God.  The actual physical conception may have played-out more naturally, with Adam later having intercourse with Eve and mystically giving rise to two seeds not in his image.   

Zohar 1 (Beresheet B: Passage 331)

Adam clove to the unclean spirit (the Serpent) and his wife clung to it first and took and received defilement from it.  He begot a son; that son was the son of the impure spirit.  Thus, there were two sons: one from the unclean spirit (Cain) and another who was born after Adam had repented (Able).  Hence, one was born of the side of impurity and one of the side of purity.

I hold that the Zohar does not teach that the Serpent had physical intercourse with Eve.  However, it does speak of a spiritual insemination.  The physicality of the act is merely an impression given from the weighty and difficult mysticism of the topic.  This difficulty is best resolved by what the Zohar teaches on the bitter water trial.  It teaches that the Serpent’s spirit is the fundamental cursing agent in the trial, and that when it injects its venom in the belly of the woman, it begins the curses.  The Serpent’s spirit is one of two animating spirit in the trial.  Thus, when Beresheet A passage 455 states that two had intercourse with Eve, it refers to these two animating spirits — that of Jehovah and of Samael.  It does not refer to Eve’s physical mating with the Serpent and with Adam.  When Chayei Sara passage 19 (and others) state that the Serpent injected defilement into Eve, it refers to the curses that resulted from Eve’s sin.  This is all seen in what the Zohar has to say about the Serpent’s role in the bitter water trial.