Photo by Sime Eskinja.

Eve is viewed as a famous femme fatale because she brought about the fall of humankind and in turn introduced sin and death into the world. She succumbs to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and is responsible for Adam’s fall. She tempts him with her beauty and sexuality to eat the forbidden fruit. God recognizes Adam and Eves’ transgressions and punishes them accordingly. Although many academics view Eve as the first true fatale, some believe another character of Jewish tradition is more fitting to the role, the original femme fatale: Lilith.

In Jewish legend, Lilith is Adam’s first wife, and she is both sexual and in control. Unlike Eve who was born of Adam’s rib, God created Lilith from clay, just like her mate, and is therefore his equal. Lilith demonstrates her independence, a key feature of the femme fatale, by leaving Adam because of their sexual incompatibility and because she refuses to obey him. Adam told God that Lilith had left and God sent three angels, Senoi, Sansenoi, and Sammangelof, to retrieve her. Lilith tried to return to the garden before an encounter with the angels but upon her arrival she discovered that Adam already had another mate, Eve. Out of revenge, Lilith had sex with Adam while he was sleeping and “stole his seed.” The three angels later found Lilith in a cave bearing “lilium” with his seed but Lilith refused to come back to the garden. Instead she chose to infested men’s dreams, made them impotent, and killed them through her kisses during her sexual encounters with them. The angels told her they would kill 100 of her children every day for her disobedience. She willingly accepted her fate but in revenge for her liliums, she is said to rob children of life and is responsible for the deaths of stillborn infants and crib deaths (SIDS).

Story by Gabriella Foreman.