Lilith the goddess, the woman, the archetype has been largely kept from the teachings of the western world.
My father always reminded us that true knowledge is knowing that you know nothing, but even so, I found it down right incredulous that in all the art history, philosophy and literature classes (that come with a six-year stint in secondary education), that somehow i had escaped ever being made aware that there was another female before Eve. Adam's first wife, Lilth.
There are many versions of the Goddess, illuminated in ancient texts, but the stories all cast her as a strong, passionate, independent woman. She will not submit to be Adam's lesser:
"Lilith becomes Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same earth as Adam. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam's ribs."
"Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden" (source link)
Because of this, God then casts her to the bottom of the Red Sea where she is twisting and writhing in purgatory...
REDEMPTION OF THE FIRST TRESPASSER represents this point in the story. The text in the upper left corner is a poem that both addresses her current situation and also tells of events to come:
In order to atone for her sins and gain freedom from her watery prison, God proposes an out. If she returns to the Garden of Eden as the serpent, and gets Eve to bite the apple, then she is forgiven and can be on her way. Well, we all know how that went down!
This detail shows one of two relief sections that represent Lilith's transformation into the serpent.
When backlit, the city skyline glows! With a closer look, the city is unmistakably New York. Nicknamed the 'Big Apple,' its specific inclusion metaphorically foreshadows events to come.
I leave you with the last two stanzas of Pamela Hadas' The Passion of Lilith:
- Gardens are made for orderers,
gardeners made to order,
but I am disorderable, the first trespasser.
So as Adam was carefully hedging his bets
and hugging the hedge,
and while angles were warring and setting
God's teeth on edge,
misfit and mislaid, I fled.
I gave a damn.
And left my first love sucking
his green thumb.