WORD FFOR WORD: Before Eve, there was Lilith!
Eve was an obedient wife. Before her, Lilith was disobedient and wanted equality. These stories are told in great detail in lesser books than the scriptures. Zuleika is similarly marginalised in secondary sources in Judaism and Islam
We know that God created Eve as Adam’s companion. Although the word Eve does not figure in the Qur’an, we know it from the Jewish tradition that it was Hawwa. Adam means that which is created from soil.
In Hebrew adama means soil. We know that Adam was created from soil. This is very much like Latin homo (man) with its connection with humus (soil) and human. Eve is a version of hawwa which means a living being. Female name Evelyn is just small Eve.
One knows that Adam was made first and then Eve was made out of his rib. This again is not in the Qur’an but we know it from Jewish sources. There is a legend that Adam and his companion were at first created together.
The companion created together with him was another woman named Lilith. Since she was coeval she claimed equality with him, which Adam did not like. He found particularly distasteful her refusal to lie under him.
Lilith has been traced to the Syraic-Akkadian root layl which means night and has gone as such into Hebrew and Arabic. That is why Lilith is sometimes called night-demon, or night-hag, who seduces men in the dark.
Lilith refused to go with Adam and was instead found having a good time with demons and jinns in the Red Sea. She was cursed and cast aside. Eve was created instead. Ginsberg in his monumental work on Jewish sources, tells the story:
One angel counselled that Eve be created from Adam’s head, others thought that that would make her too clever. Another counselled that she be created from his feet, while some thought that that would make her too smelly. The final decision was in favour of Adam’s rib. That made Eve pure and obedient.
Two sons were born from Adam and Eve. The elder one was named Cain probably from the way Eve explained his birth: “I have made him”. The root in Hebrew for it means to make. In Arabic, kon root means to create, from where we have the word kayenaat, the created universe.
It is interesting to recall that Persian hero, Rustam, in Firdausi’s Shahnama was named after a similar phrase uttered by his mother on his birth. Just as Cain killed his brother, Rustam was to kill his son, Suhrab.
Cain’s younger brother was Abel which means breath or vanity in Hebrew. It was Cain who slew his brother out of jealousy because he thought God had favoured Abel and not him. That is why the prophet after Adam was the next-born, Seth, which means appointed. In Arabic it is Shith.
After Seth the appointed prophet was Enos which simply means man in Hebrew. In Arabic (anas) also it means the same and the root is ins, from where we have the word insan (man). It is said that ins is opposite of jinn because it relates to familiar. We have Urdu manoos (familiar) and uns (affection) from the same root.
Another source, Dr Klein’s dictionary, connects Arabic anees with it. Ghulam Ahmad Parwez in his dictionary says insan was coined in opposition to jinn. The latter could not be tamed and made familiar while man was among the manoos.
We have “scriptural” names that have not featured in any scripture. For instance, Zuleika appears by name neither in the Bible nor in the Qur’an, but her story is told in great detail. In fact, the best story in the Qur’an is that of Prophet Joseph and Zuleika.
The name Zuleika, which means beautiful and brilliant, appeared first in a Jewish book published in the 17th century. It took the name from a Muslim source, but we don’t know how it came to the Muslims. Jewish Midrash has the story but no name.