Mythologies can be found in every culture such as the Greeks, Hindus, Native Americans, etc. They are an integral part of explaining the identity and beliefs of a culture and its people. The Jewish people have similar myths such as the Exodus, Creation, and Flood accounts. These myths and stories are well known in America as many have grown up in Monotheistic households and faiths. However, less well known are the myths that are not in Judeo Christian religious texts. I’ll be presenting the top 5 Jewish myths that you should know.
The first myth is the story of Lilith. For those who are not aware, there are two creation stories in Genesis. The first has man and woman being created at the same time, but the second has man proceeding the woman. In order to explain this discrepancy a myth was formed about what events took place in the first account. A woman named Lilith was created with Adam in the first account. When they met they began to fight. Adam wanted Lilith to lie beneath him during intercourse and Lilith refused saying that she wanted to be on top because they were both created from the Earth. They continued to argue until Lilith spoke the forbidden name of God and flew away.
Adam prayed to God to bring Lilith back so God sent three Angels to give her a choice of what to do. The Angels gave Lilith an ultimatum. She could either return to Adam with them or lose 100 of her children a day. She chose the latter and became a demon that holds dominion over boys for 8 days after birth and girls 12 days. Important to note is that she was found at the Sea of Reeds where the Egyptians were to die and Hebrews set free. She has since become the model of Feminism and sexual liberation.
The second myth tells the story of Og the giant and King of Bashan. Before the flood Og had begged Noah to allow him aboard the Ark and he conceded.
Og became the only giant to survive the Great Flood, however, he later became an enemy of Israel and attempted to throw a mountain at the nation. God intervened with rock eating ants who hollowed out the mountain thereby falling on top of Og’s head and trapping him. Moses struck his ankle with a hammer and he fell and died, but the rock rolled off and hurled toward Israel. God then had to suspend the mountain between heaven and Earth.
Og’s skeleton was found by a man who was hunting a deer and found himself in his thigh bone. He had chased the deer for three miles.
Our third myth tells the story of the City of Luz. No death or disaster can touch this city and there are two thoughts for why this is. One thought says that this is the place closest to heaven where Jacob’s ladder occurred. The second thought is that God designed it to be a refuge against Death after the fall. However, if individuals decide to leave then they will immediately die.
Our fourth myths speaks of our evil twins. When individuals are born they have a demonic double because the Kingdom of Man is reflected in Hell. When God speaks of an individuals destiny the demons sneak into heaven to listen and set that individual up with the evil double of their true spouse. If this attempt is successful then that person is carried to “the place no mans feet should ever enter.”
The fifth myth is about a sea monster. In the book of Isaiah, God is said to have fought the Leviathan. Scholars believe that this was an allegory of the fight between good and evil and possibly where the idea of Satan being a wholly separate entity from God instead of an Adversary or accuser ,as the Jewish scriptures have him as, was developed.
The myths and legends of the Jewish people are numerous. Many are very well known and others are sparsely recognized by those outside of these communities. Nevertheless, those myths and legends are fascinating and provide a window into the framework and identify of the Jewish people.
McGinn, Bernard. Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil. NY: HarperCollins, 1994.