Lilith: Grammatical Ignorance and the First Mention of Her

In the Gilgamesh epic the Sumerian “word” (it’s hard to tell in Sumerian where one word begins and another ends sometimes) that possibly refers to Lilith is “ki-sikil-lil-la-ke”. The whole phrase is translated as meaning “Lila’s maiden, beloved, companion, or maid.” Thus people use the name “Lillake” for Lilith sometimes. The doubled consonants can be ignored, they’re an artifact caused by the nature of cuneiform, and the hypens are there dividing the cuneiform glyphs, so they also can be ignored.

—What nobody seems to understand is that the final “-e” of “Lillake” can be dropped: it’s the ergative case marker of this word. Also the final “…a-k…” can be dropped: it’s the genetive case marker of this word: it means “of Lil-“. That leaves “Lil-” as the name for Lilith here. As in Sumerian multiple vowels were simplified we can easily conjecture “Lila” or “Lili” as the full, first recorded form of Her name.

Ardat Lili was Lilith’s handmaid (Patai, p. 222). “Lila” or “Lili” is the likely name for Lilith in Sumerian as the more widely known “Lilitu” is an Akkadian word, I believe, Lilith’s name in that language. (I don’t claim to know either language fully, but I can easily recognize Sumerian case endings, and some Akkadian ones.) Thus we have, in all probability, the first reference to Lilith here. “Lil” means “wind”, “breath”, “sky” or “spirit”. As the family of demons which the Sumerians regarded Lilith as part of were storm spirits, the name “Lila” or “Lili” is a perfect candidate for Lilith’s original Sumerian name.

People get hung up on “Lillake”, insisting this cannot refer to Lilith because of the final “-ke”. This misunderanding of “Lillake” is due to ignorance of Sumerian grammar.

Oh Gods how I wish people would read more books!

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3 thoughts on “Lilith: Grammatical Ignorance and the First Mention of Her

  1. polyphanes says:

    It’s precious how you expect people to actually study the stuff they bloviate about. ❤ Being a linguist and classicist myself (but nowhere near as hardcore as you might be for studying Sumerian and cuneiform!), I can completely understand the hand-writhing teeth-gnashing pain of people ignoring or staying ignorant of evidence and research.

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      I really don’t expect anything better from people that laziness and sloppiness. I’m lazy and sloppy as a pig. But I can read a fVcking book! That’s all I really want from people, to read books and maybe even an occasional burst of artistic or critical or magical work. Is that so much to ask? Can’t we all just get along? Thanks for the comment, Sam. And yes I am precious. 😃 ⚥

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