I recently had a bright young lady I know message me with a rather odd question. Why does the Talmud say that Adam had a wife before Eve? And if it’s true then why wasn’t it mentioned in the Genesis creation accounts?
Well it’s certainly true that certain Jewish texts refer to Adam having a wife before Eve. The most famous one is The Alphabet of ben Sirach (although contrary to the original question it is not part of the Talmud). The story of Adam’s first wife sets out to fix a discrepancy in Scripture: why does Genesis 1 state that man and woman were created simultaneously but Genesis 2 states that the man was created before the woman? The answer is that God created two wives – one in chapter one (Lilith) and the other (Eve) in chapter two.
And, believe it or not, Adam’s “first” wife is mentioned in the Bible. Isaiah 34:12-14 states:
They shall name it No Kingdom There,
and all its princes shall be nothing.
Thorns shall grow over its strongholds,
nettles and thistles in its fortresses.
It shall be the haunt of jackals,
an abode for ostriches.
Wildcats shall meet with hyenas,
goat-demons shall call to each other;
there too Lilith shall repose,
and find a place to rest.
Wait why is she still alive during the time of Isaiah and why is her description so unflattering? She must be the ex from hell!
Well yeah, she is.