“Golem” is a Hebrew word which means “shapeless mass”. This is mentioned in the Bible in Psalms 139:16 and is translated as “unformed body” which pertains to being an embryo or unfinished human being. However, in modern Hebrew, golem refers to being “helpless” or “dumb”.
The earliest stories regarding golems are in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism. It narrated that Adam, the first man, was first created as a golem, made from mud. The most popular golem narrative specifies that Bezalel, a rabbi in Prague in the late 16th century, created a golem from clay and brought it to life with rituals and incantations. Another Yiddish and Slavic folktale features a child made out of clay by a lonely childless couple. Unfortunately, their creation led to comical and disastrous results. In contemporary culture the golem is a character in novels and films. For instance, the 2018 film, “The Golem” features a woman who created a golem to protect the village.