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"?

up vote 5 down vote accepted

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).

Additional sources are here, as well as this post.

In summary, the sources indicate several parallels between Tammuz and the Canaanite god Baal.

  • Thank you for your energetic search! I can see that there are numerous complications in examining this passage-but the common theme appears to be a fertility/spring ritual cult, a vestige of the Caananite festivals. – Tau Jul 3 '14 at 3:11

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.

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    Dummelow’s book was published in 1909, when the study of ancient Babylonia was still in its infancy. In the mean while an enormous number of texts from Babylonia have been excavated and lots of good studies of Babylonian religion in general and Tammuz in particular are available, in real books, and even on the internet. What is actually the point of pasting something from an out-of-date book from 1909? – fdb Jul 2 '14 at 21:20
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    I wouldn't say it's fair to exclude sources based on their antiquity (esp. in dealing with ancient scripture) but I didn't find any contradictory information, so went with the source I felt covered it well and in brevity. – lasersauce Jul 2 '14 at 23:58

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.)

  • Hi Irv, welcome to BH.SE, and thanks for your answer! Consider providing links or sources for others to be able to reference (something like this would be great). – רבות מחשבות Mar 25 at 17:36
  • Ezekiel 8:13-14 “Turn you yet again, and you shall see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of YHWH’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Have you seen this, O son of man?” Ezekiel 8:16 And he brought me into the inner court of YHWH’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of YHWH, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of YHWH, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. – Irv sotac Mar 26 at 2:40
  • Ezekiel 8:16 And he brought me into the inner court of YHWH’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of YHWH, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of YHWH, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. – Irv sotac Mar 26 at 2:45
  • Jeremiah 7:18-19 “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods (on Easter), that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? says YHWH: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus says the YHWH ELOHIYM; Behold, my anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place.” – Irv sotac Mar 26 at 2:46
  • 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. – Irv sotac Mar 26 at 2:47

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.

  • This is a substantial answer and I have up-voted it. But would you be able, for the sake of completeness, to give links to your references in the first and last paragraphs, please ? – Nigel J May 27 at 15:40
  • Nicely answered, Sam, and welcome to the forum. Links are nice when available, but your page references are certainly acceptable. I'd suggest that unless you're paraphrasing due to length, make sure to indicate direct quotes from your sources by starting each line with the character denoting a blockquote, which is >. – Dieter Jun 1 at 1:49

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.

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    Welcome to Stack Exchange. We are glad you stopped by and hope you stick around. When you have a chance, check out the site tour. In particular, be sure to read the section on what constitutes a good answer and revise your post to either cite references that back your position or to more thoroughly explain how you get this interpretation from the text itself. Please note that "showing your work" is required on this Stack Exchange. – ThaddeusB Dec 27 '15 at 21:33
  • @Lizzie Wow! This flies in the face of most commentaries. Can state your sources, and perhaps quote them in your response? Thank you! – Tau Dec 29 '15 at 1:46
  • Hi Tau, I'm just seeing your comment. Sorry for such a late reply. SURE! I will definitely site my sources. I didn't know that was required on this site and got a friendly note from the moderator as well asking me to site sources. I only have 1 source for this and that is the Bible. But I will get all of the verses and timelines together and repost <3 – Lizzie Jan 2 '16 at 22:24

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

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange. We are glad you stopped by and hope you stick around. When you have a chance, check out the site tour at hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour. In particular, be sure to read the section on what constitutes a good answer and revise your post to either cite references that back your position or to more thoroughly explain how you get this interpretation from the text itself. Please note that "showing your work" is required on this Stack Exchange -- meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/735/… – Steve May 25 at 16:23
  • Welcome to the forum. It's important here to support your assertions. Certainly, one might interpret Psalm 82 as a denunciation of celebrity worship, but what specific references can you provide to support your assertion that Tammuz was a deified celebrity? – Dieter May 27 at 6:05

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