Center for Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania/Mayer Sulzberger Collection

“There too the Lilith shall repose and find herself a resting place” (Isaiah 34:14), wrote the prophet Isaiah about the punishment that would befall the land of Edom for its idolatry. A Babylonian demon known to seduce men in their sleep, harm pregnant women and kill children, Lilith was also cast, in postbiblical Jewish lore, as Adam’s wicked first wife in the Garden of Eden. Later she is described (probably) in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls and in Jewish incantation bowls from sixth-century Mesopotamia. Jewish amulets from as late as the 19th century bear charms against her powers.

The 20th-century Latvian-born Israeli artist Abel Pann follows Renaissance precedents in depicting Lilith as half-serpent/half-woman in this 1926 illustration from his series The Bible in Pictures.