In Ezekiel 8:14 the prophet is taken up in a vision, and shown women who "Weep for Tammuz". The passage doesn't explain what it means, although they are engaged in some form of idolatry. My bible footnotes tells me it is a "fertility god". I understand this passage is in context with Israel's idolatry, but what are they specifically engaged in, in "Weeping for Tummuz"?
This is a good question. The information available is very complex, so I have gleaned the most relevent information to answer the question. To begin, @lasersauce made the correct observation that
He [Tammuz] appears to have been a god of the spring, and the myth regarding him told of his early death and of the descent of Istar, his bride, into the underworld in search of him.
In this regard, Becking and Dijkistra (1996) provide important historical details. That is, there are similarities with the death of the Canaanite God Baal and Tammuz written in the In the Ras Shamra texts. In one of the studies the writer observes that
The mourning for Baal as a vegetation deity in eclipse suggests the weeping for Tammuz, also a vegetation deity, by the woman of Jerusalem in the sixth month (Ezek 8:14) and, more directly, the public mourning for Hadad-Rimmon (the Canaanite Baal) in the valley of Megiddo (Zech 12:11). (1).
In summary, the sources indicate several parallels between Tammuz and the Canaanite god Baal.
According to J. R. Dummelow, Tammuz was
a deity worshipped both in Babylonia and in Phoenicia—the same as the Greek Adonis. He appears to have been a god of the spring, and the myth regarding him told of his early death and of the descent of Istar his bride into the underworld in search of him. The death of Tammuz symbolised the destruction of the spring vegetation by the heat of summer, and it was celebrated annually by seven days of women’s mourning in the 4th month (June–July), which was called Tammuz. This superstition had been introduced into Jerusalem. (A Commentary on the Holy Bible, pp. 497–98.)
Here is a an additional source, covering most of the same information, but more recently printed, although not as plainly laid out.
Weeping for Tammuz was a 40 day mourning period for a pagan sun deity that which God castigates Israel for whoring after in Ezekiel 8:13-16. Today this period of mourning is called Lent.
The reasons for celebrating our major feasts when we do are many and varied. In general, however, it is true that many of them have at least an indirect connection with the pre-Christian [pagan] feasts celebrated about the same time of year — feasts centering around the harvest, the rebirth of the sun at the winter solstice (now Dec. 21, but Dec. 25 in the old Julian calendar), the renewal of nature in spring, and so on.
(The New Question Box - Catholic Life for the Nineties, copyright 1988 by John J. Dietzen, M.A., S.T.L., ISBN 0-940518-01-5 (paperback), published by Guildhall Publishers, Peoria Illinois, 61651., page 554.)
Tammuz was a pagan god or idol that the women were weeping for on the north side of the temple. According to T.Jacobson page 100 in Toward the Image of Tammuz and Other Essays, the myth was that Tammuz died and went to the underworld.
The visions of the temple that God gave to Ezekiel in chapter eight actually show what was taking place in Jerusalem at the temple. The leaders of Jerusalem were worshiping images that represented pagan gods(8:7-12). Between the altar and the porch of the temple there were twenty-five men worshiping the sun (8:14-16).There was an idol in the temple court that angered God (8:3-5).
The people had forsaken God, forgot God, and God would destroy the temple. Only a small remnant would escape and Ezekiel cried out for mercy (9:1-8).Ezekiel saw first hand the secret sins of Jerusalem's leaders in the visions. Intercession would not stop the destruction of Jerusalem (14:12-20).
This judgement would come upon those who worshiped idols, sexually abused others,cheated people financially, slandered people, oppressed the orphan and widow(22:1-12) Gary Smith, An Introduction to the Hebrew Prophets. pg. 262-271.
Tammuz was an actual person. He was not a god/deity though he was worshiped like one after his death. He was the son of Nimrod. And this is how it goes: Nimrod was descended directly from Noah- Noah had a son named Ham. Ham had a son named Cush. Cush married a woman named Semiramis and they had a son named Nimrod. When Cush died, Nimrod married his mother Semiramis. When Nimrod died Semiramis was pregnant. When she had the baby, she named him Tammuz. Semiramis believed Tammuz was Nimrod reincarnated. **Nimrod was a powerful king. He was the one building the tower of Babel.
I would not refer to what was told about these gods as a myth. Psalms 82 they were real. Tammuz was a master at love poems and he wrote love poems to Ivanna aka Isthar, asthoreth. They are the same poems Solomon captured that people have in the bible and say its of the Almighty One. But its from a god to a goddess that existed in those days. My guess on why the women weep for him was that as us women are today when it comes to men who display a certain level of sensuality, songs and lyrics and we put them in the god status and actually worship them This is idolatry. It was the fallen of Mesopotamia idolatry for these gods that fell. There was and is today nothing new under the sun neither the behavioir of people