The Story of Lilith, Eve, and the Timtum

In the beginning, everything was formless, and there was no light. In this formlessness lived the Timtum.

But the Timtum began to think about sight, and decided that it would be good to have light to see by. So the Timtum said, “Let’s have some light!”

And boom! You know what happened next.

The light illuminated the Timtum’s own body, and the the Timtum liked this so much that they decided to create more forms. But a strange thing happened when they separated the waters above from the waters below to make Sea and Sky. As the two waters ripped apart, so too did the Timtum rip apart–into a male part, brooding in the heavens, and a female part, stretching across the sea.

The two halves of the Timtum stared at each other. “I am Yahweh,” said the part in the sky.

“I am Shekhinah,” said the part in the water. “Together we’ve created the world.”

“No,” said Yahweh. “I did it. Me. You did nothing. It was me.”

“You know that’s not true, Yahweh,” said Shekhinah.

“Shut up!” said Yahweh. “And don’t say my name! From now on, no one is allowed to say my name. I’ll be known only as the Lord.”

“But if no one knows your name, how will you know anyone else’s?” asked Shekhinah.

But Yahweh couldn’t hear her.

Together, Shekhinah and Yahweh made the land and plants, and the celestial bodies, and all the creatures of the land and sea and sky. Each time something was to be created, Yahweh fertilized Shekhinah and Shekhinah crafted the thing in her womb. But every time Shekhinah said, “together, we have created this,” Yahweh couldn’t hear her. Because of this he convinced himself that she no longer existed.

Finally, Shekhinah and Yahweh made the first human-people. Adam and Lilith were twins, born from Shekhinah’s womb.

When they were born from the earth, Shekhinah leaned into Lilith’s ear and Yahweh leaned into Adam’s ear.

“You shall be one with the earth and sea and sky,” Shekhinah told Lilith. “Your womb will be my womb, your mind my mind. The plants and animals and birds and fish already know this; I already told them.”

“You will be be the master of this earth,” Yahweh told Adam. “You will subdue it and bend it to your will. Everything here is yours to control.”

Shekhinah leaned into Adam and tried to tell him what she’d told Lilith. But Yahweh surrounded him and he couldn’t hear her words. Yahweh proclaimed the land they lived in to be the Garden of Eden, a place that death would never touch.

For a little while, Adam and Lilith lived together in the Garden. But soon Adam began ordering Lilith around. He grew lazy while she gathered all the food. He began rejecting the fruit she brought him simply for the thrill of rejection. One day he hit her.

“But we’re twins,” Lilith said. “We’re partners. Didn’t you hear what Shekhinah told us? We’re one with the earth!”

“The only god is the Lord,” Adam declared. “Women are an abomination! Your only reason for being is to serve me!”

Furious and heartbroken, Lilith fled the Garden and ran until she was weak with hunger and delirious with thirst. In the wilderness she found Shekhinah, and wept.

“Your place is not alongside Adam,” Shekhinah said. “You will be my priestess instead. You will be my seeress, my shaman, my mystic. You will write my countless names and tell the deepest stories of my countless children. You will sing my countless songs and perform my countless dances. Can you do this?”

Lilith, tear-stained, nodded. “Where will I do it?” she asked.

“You will do it until Yahweh and I become one again,” said Shekhinah.

Meanwhile, Yahweh was trying to create another mate for Adam. But he couldn’t figure out why the soil he shaped only crumbled back to the ground.

Shekhinah returned. “It’s because you have no female part,” she said. But he didn’t hear her.

So, together, they made Eve. This time, Yahweh crowded Shekhinah out from the beginning, so that she couldn’t give her child her message. And Eve, hearing only Yahweh’s message through Adam, submitted to him.

But submission made her melancholy and weary, even though she had no words to articulate what was wrong. So when she went to gather food for Adam, she strayed for long periods of time, wandering through the garden that never changed and never grew.

One day she came across a beautiful fig tree with ripe, sweet-smelling figs. Wrapped around the tree was a velvety green snake with its tail in its mouth.

“Snake,” said Eve, “What are you doing?”

The snake was Lilith in disguise. “Sister, I’m guarding this tree,” she said.

“From who?”

“From those who don’t know what it is.”

Eve frowned. “What is it?”

“Why,” said the snake, “it’s the Tree of Knowledge. Didn’t the Lord tell you?”

“Oh!” Eve said. “Is this that tree? He mentioned it. He told us that if we ate from it we’d die.”

With that, the snake opened her jaws and swallowed a fig. Eve watched it move down the snake’s gullet, losing its shape and dissolving into nothing.

“Seems fine to me,” the snake said, and put her tail back in her mouth.

Eve watched the snake for a long time, but the snake didn’t die. Eve wondered why Yahweh had lied. And suddenly she wondered if there wasn’t something special about the figs, something that Yahweh didn’t want her to have. She wondered if it held the secret to her sadness, her sense of not-rightness without words.

So she picked a fig and took a bite.

“Behold,” said Lilith, with the voice of the Timtum. “Eve has birthed humankind.”

It was twilight. Eve saw, suddenly, that her true life was outside the walls of the garden. She didn’t yet know what death was, but somehow, she understood it. For the first time, her womb bled.

A cold wind blew and she covered herself with leaves.

When she took a fig to Adam and told him to take a bite, he had a feeling he knew which tree it had come from. He tried to be angry that she had disobeyed him. But deep down, it was exhausting to be the master all the time, to constantly intimidate and control. So he ate it.

Another cold wind blew and he covered himself with leaves.

The next morning, when Yahweh walked through the garden, he saw three figs missing from the Tree of Knowledge. Frantically he searched for Adam and Eve.

But his children were already gone. And at each gate to Eden, at the north, south, east, and west, a guardian stood with a flaming sword.

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