Jewish Mythology on HBO's True Blood: Was Lilith a Vampire?

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In Season 5 Episode 2, "The Authority Always Wins" HBO's "True Blood" brought viewers into the highly secretive enclave of The Authority—a powerful group of vampires that has dominion over all vampires in existence. It also introduced viewers to some of The Authority's religious views, specifically: that all vampires are descended from Lilith, Adam's first wife.

This revelation occurs about 45 minutes into the episode. The vampire who founded The Authority, Roman Zimojic, places a drop of his blood on the tongues of each vampire on the council while reciting a prayer that the show translates as:

"The blood of Lilith. The first, the last, the Eternal. We are born of Lilith, who was created in God's image. The first, the last, the Eternal. We swear fealty to the blood and to the Progenitor. The first, the last, the Eternal. Lord and Lilith, Father and Mother, protect as was we protect you. From this day until the hour of the true death. And in the Lord and Lilith's name we say: Vampyr."

This scene, of course, has prompted many viewers to ask: who was Lilith? And: was she a vampire? In answer to the first question please check out my series of articles on Lilith, which are noted below and trace the evolution of the Lilith legend in both ancient and modern texts.

As to whether Lilith was a vampire: it depends on which aspects of her story you want to emphasize.

The legend of Lilith began when the ancient rabbis noticed that there were two contradictory accounts of Creation in the biblical Book of Genesis. One of the ways they resolved this discrepancy was to say that the first story referred to Adam's first wife, while the second referred to Eve. Eventually, this concept of a "First Eve" was merged with Sumerian myths about female vampires called "Lillu" and Mesopotamian myths about succubae called "lilin." Hence, the character of Lilith was born.

Though Lilith herself is not described as a vampire in Jewish texts, the fact that her name and many of her nefarious characteristics are derived from Sumerian vampire mythology makes her an ideal choice for an original vampire mother. Indeed, in "True Blood" a member of the authority (Dieter Braun) maintains that Lilith was not only the vampire mother but that humans were created afterward to serve as a food source for vampires.

Visit HBO's website for more information about The Authority and how Lilith fits into their worldview.