sermonette: Inventing Goddesses and Demons
The Folklore of Lilith, Samael, and Azazel
David C. Grabbe
Given 28-Nov-20; Sermon #1572s; 19 minutes
Paul admonished Timothy not to mingle foolish Jewish myths with the truth of God's Word. The translators of the New Revised Version have done exactly that by tying the ancient myth of Lilith to Isaiah 34:13-14. In doing so, they deceive their readers into believing that a link exists between what in context is merely an animal, that is, a screech owl (liyliyth, from the Hebrew word for night, layil) and a mythological demon associated with night. The Jews transformed an ancient Babylonian myth of Lilith into a fabrication about the first woman, created before Eve. This woman, because she was more intelligent and rebellious, having a better character than man, was punished and turned into a demon after cohabiting with Samael (another figure in Jewish mythology, typifying Satan). The same Bible translators attempt to add a parasitic attachment to Leviticus 16:10, this time suggesting that the ancient Israelites sent the goat "to Azazel" (note the capital "A"), that is, into the wilderness to be sacrificed to the demon-god Samael—the husband of Lilith. This translation—and that of the English Standard Version (among any number of others)—turns the noun azazel from a designation of the goat which is sent away into a proper noun, the name of what Jewish mythology in the Hellenistic period (a thousand years after the writing of Leviticus) posited to be a demon. Translations which do so have the ancient Israelites sacrificing a goat to a demon—a horrendous example of gross idolatry, expressly forbidden (Leviticus 17:7). God's people must refuse to mingle scripture with myth—Jewish or other. As one commentator stated, "This silly lie about some other woman has been around longer than the sandal."