Lilith in Jewish Mysticism

Treatise on the Left Emanation

R. Isaac b. Jacob Ha-Kohen

Tr. Ronald C. Kiener

Joseph Dan, ed. The Early Kabbalah, (New York: Pauilist Press, 1986), excerpted from pp. 172-182). Used by permission of the translator.

The Treatise on the Left Emanation was written in the first half of the 13th century, and it, along with writings of R. Isaac's brother, R. Jacob, seems to have exerted significant influence on R. Moses de Leon, the author of the Zohar. It is enough later than the Alphabet of b. Sira for the author to be familiar with that tradition, but it betrays no apparent knowledge of it. This could mean that b. Sira was unknown to R. Isaac, but it could just as well mean that he found it less than useful (or even offensive -- see Eliezer Segal's Critique of the Alphabet). Scholem argues that b. Sira is a major source for Lilith material in the Zohar, but my inclination is to see this text as much more influential in that regard. [AH]
   6. I will now set down the names of the princes of jealousy and enmity. Yet since their essence and their service is true and pure, their mouths are free from mendacity and neither lies nor falsehoods pass between them.
   The first prince and accuser, the commander of jealousy, is evil Samael, accompanied by his retinue. He is called "evil" not because of his nature but because he desires to unite and intimately mingle with an emanation not of his nature, as we shall explain.
   The second prince is called his deputy, and his name is Za'afi'el, accompanied by his entourage.
   The third prince is called third-in-command, and his name is Za'ami'el, accompanied by his staff.
   The fourth prince is Qasfi'el, accompanied by his retinue.
   The fifth prince is Ragzi'el, accompanied by his staff.
   The sixth prince is 'Abri'el, accompanied by his staff.
   The seventh is Meshulhi'el, accompanied by his staff. These latter comprise the delegation of evil angels.

   19. In answer to your question concerning Lilith, I shall explain to you the essence of the matter. Concerning this point there is a received tradition from the ancient Sages who made use of the Secret Knowledge of the Lesser Palaces, which is the manipulation of demons and a ladder by which one ascends to the prophetic levels. In this tradition it is made clear that Samael and Lilith were born as one, similar to the form of Adam and Eve who were also born as one, reflecting what is above. This is the account of Lilith which was received by the Sages in the Secret Knowledge of the Palaces. The Matron Lilith is the mate of Samael. Both of them were born at the same hour in the image of Adam and Eve, intertwined in each other. Asmodeus the great king of the demons has as a mate the Lesser (younger) Lilith, daughter of the king whose name is Qafsefoni. The name of his mate is Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and their daughter is Lilith.

   This is the exact text of what is written in The Chapters of the Lesser Palaces as we have received it, word for word and letter for letter. And the scholars of this wisdom possess a very profound tradition from the ancients. They found it stated in those Chapters that Samael, the great prince of them all, grew exceedingly jealous of Asmodeus the king of the demons because of this Lilith who is called Lilith the Maiden (the young). She is in the form of a beautiful woman from her head to her waist. But from the waist down she is burning fire--like mother like daughter. She is called Mehetabel daughter of Matred, and the meaning is something immersed (mabu tabal). The meaning here is that her intentions are never for the good. She only seeks to incite wars and various demons of war and the war between Daughter Lilith and Matron Lilith.

   They say that from Asmodeus and his mate Lilith a great prince was born in heaven. He is the ruler of eighty thousand destructive demons and is called "the sword of king Asmodeus." His name is Alefpene'ash and His face burns like a raging fire ('esh). He is also called Gurigur, for he antagonizes and struggles with the prince of Judah, who is called Gur Aryeh Yehudah (Lion-cub of Judah). From the same form that gave birth to this war-demon another prince, a prince whose root is in Kingdom, was born in heaven. He is called "the sword of the Messiah." He too has two names: Meshihi'el and Kokhvi'el. When the time comes and when God wishes, this sword will leave its sheath and verses of prophecy will come True: "For My sword shall be drunk in the heavens; Lo, it shall come down upon Edom" (Isaiah 34:5). "A star rises from Jacob" (Numbers; 24:17). Amen. Soon in our days may we merit to see the face of the Messiah our righteous one; we and all our people....

   22. I shall now teach you a wonderful innovation. You already know that evil Samael and wicked Lilith are like a sexual pair who, by means of an intermediary, receive an evil and wicked emanation from one and emanate to the other. I shall explain this relying on the esoteric meaning in the verse "In that day the Lord will punish with His great, cruel, mighty sword Leviathan the twisted serpent and Leviathan the tortuous serpent"--this is Lilith--"and He will slay the dragon of the sea" (Isaiah 27:1). As there is a pure Leviathan in the sea and it is called a serpent, so there is a great defiled serpent in the sea in the literal sense. The same holds true above in a hidden way. The heavenly serpent is a blind prince, the image of an intermediary between Samael and Lilith. Its name is Tanin'iver[24] The masters of tradition said that just as this serpent slithers without eyes, so the supernal serpent has the image of a spiritual form without color--these are "the eyes." The tradiationists call it an eyeless creature, therefore its name is Tanin'iver. He is the bond, the accompaniment, and the union between Samael and Lilith. If he were created whole in the fullness of his emanation he would have destroyed the world in an instant. .

   When the divine Will arrives and the emanation of Samael and Lilith weakens the emanation achieved by the blind prince, they will be completely annihilated by Gabriel prince of Strength, who instigates war against them with the aid of the prince of Lovingkindness. then the verse which we have expounded according to its secret meaning will come true....

   24. I found written in the name of an ancient traditionist and in the name of the perfect Hasid of blessed memory[25] that Lilith is also Taninsam.[26] They said that this name is based on the serpent who is in the image of an intermediary between Lilith and her mate. He will eat deadly poison at the hands of the prince of Strength; it is an elixir of life for all whose inclination overcomes them. Then he participates with Michael, the prince of Loving-kindness, in defeating the rule of evil in heaven and on earth. Then the verse will come true: "For His Loving-kindness has overcome us; the truth of God endures forever. Hallelujah" (Psalms 117:2).

   The secret of the covenant of salt (melab)[27] is the kingdom of the accompaniment of beauty[28] Therefore they hinted with secrets regarding the salted fish [Leviathan] to feed the righteous in future time. Happy is he who understands these things as they are.


[24]. Literally "blind serpent."
[25]. Rabbi Judah the Hasid?
[26]. Literally; "poisonous serpent," but also "blind" (suma').
[27]. See Numbers 18:19.
[28]. Malkhut Leviat Hen.


Return to Lilith Page
© Copyright 1995-2011 Alan Humm.
Comments and corrections:

Music: Interested in learning music theory? Look at An introduction to popular music theory. Aspiring guitarists should check out Guitar Learning Helps. If you just want to know what the author has been up to look at Alan Humm's music.