In the book of Ezekiel, it describes women weeping for the god, Tammuz, in the Temple. I've heard that supposedly the weeping lasted for only a couple of days, while others say it lasted for the month named after him. Also, I've heard that it was supposedly 40 days after 40 years he supposedly lived but I have yet to find any primary or academic sources regarding that. Other sources state that the weeping only lasted 3 days but other sources I’ve found state that it was on the 2nd day of the month that the weeping occurred. Here are some sources I've found regarding the weeping of Tammuz but does anyone have some other sources regarding this practice?

Tammuz, the lover of your earliest youth, for him you have ordained lamentations year upon year You loved the colorful 'Little Shepherd' bird and then hit him, breaking his wing, so now he stands in the forest crying 'My Wing’! - Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet VI

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord; women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. - Ezekiel 8:14 (New Revised Standard Version)

“In Mesopotamia, in the last three days of the month of Tammuz (June/July), there was a funerary ritual called “exhibition, or exposition,” during which an image of the dead god Tammuz was exhibited. In the Northwest Semitic world, Tammuz was associated with vegetation, its sprouting, and its death. In “Ishtar’s Descent to the Netherworld,” Tammuz is Ishtar’s lover, whom she betrays and sends to the Netherworld to take her place, thus putting into effect his cyclic resurrection. This was a Mesopotamian way of explaining the seasons. While Tammuz was in the netherworld, the vegetation on Earth was dying, dried up by the sun. The Gilgamesh Epic mentions the annual rite that Ishtar ordained where the technical term for “lamentation” occurs: “For Tammuz, the lover of your youth, thou hast ordained wailing year after year.”- Voth, Steven M.., Walton, John H.., Ferris, Paul W. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Ezekiel. United States: Zondervan, 2009. Pg. 142

“The 25th to the 27th days cover the last stages of the moon’s light and influence before the power of death encroaches on the land of the living in the darkness before the new moon. In Mesopotamian tradition, the 28th and 29th days of every month belong to Nergal and the underworld. The end of Du’uzu in the summer (month IV) especially came to be set aside for mourning the dead Dumuzi, who would rise again only with the winter rains. These rites began on the 26th, with the last moonlight, and continued through the 29th.”- Fleming, Daniel E. Time at Emar: The Cultic Calendar and the Rituals from the Diviner's Archive. Germany: Penn State University Press, 2000. Pg. 180

“The 26th of Duʾuzu was the day of uproar; it was a day when a (funerary) display was made in Aššur and Nineveh. The 27th of Duʾuzu was the day of releasing; it was also a day on which a (funerary) display was made in Aššur Nineveh, Kalḫu, and Arbela. The 28th of Duʾuzu was the day of Dumuzi when a further (funerary) display was made in all four cities. In Arbela, yet another (funerary) display was reserved for the 29th, which seems to have been the last day of the rite.”- Scurlock, J. A. "K 164 ('BA' 2, P. 635): New Light on the Mourning Rites for Dumuzi?" Journal of Assyriology and Oriental Archaeology 86, no. 1 (1992): 53–67. Pg. 57-58

“The ghost festival in Abu was not the sole opportunity for ghosts to pay a visit to living relatives; at the end of the legend of Istar's descent to the Netherworld, it is mentioned that not only does the god Dumuzi return every year, but also that the dead are to "come up and smell the incense" during Dumuzi's festivities (that is, from the 27th to the 29th of the month of Du'uzu or roughly July in our calendar).”- Scurlock, J. A. "Magical Uses Of Ancient Mesopotamian Festivals of the Dead". In Ancient Magic and Ritual Power, (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001) Pg. 96-97

“The third aspect of Dumuzi—and probably the latest to develop—was perhaps the power of the grain. In the first millennium BCE, there was a three-day festival of Dumuzi throughout the cities of AÍÍur. The first day of the festival was called “the screaming” (ikkillu); the second day was “the release” (paÍru); and the third was simply “Dumuzi.” One of the rituals performed at that time reflects a ritual performed also at Nippur, in Babylonia. Cohen understands this ritual as marking the clearing away of the remains of the spring grain harvest in preparation for the fall sowing. In this ritual Dumuzi is the embodiment of the grain harvest; it is his remains, his dead body that is being cleared away. This interpretation agrees with Jacobsen, who early on proposed that Dumuzi embodied the power of the grain. This three-day festival of Dumuzi, which originally concerned the removal of any remains from the last harvest, the demise of Dumuzi, “evolved into a time when the entire community confronted the cycle of life and death, with implications far greater than just the Dumuzi narrative. It was a time of ghosts, of the spirits of the dead, as well as the appropriate moment for rituals against life-threatening conditions” (Cohen 2011: 258) Dumuzi was a god of the netherworld, where he stood at the gate between Heaven and the netherworld. “Dumuzi’s Dream” dramatically describes the hunting down of Dumuzi by the galla-demons of the netherworld and ultimately Dumuzi’s death. The fourth month of the standard Mesopotamian calendar was named for Dumuzi; it fell in mid-summer and was understood as the month when the god was bound and taken into captivity.”- Frayne, Douglas R.., Stuckey, Johanna H.. A Handbook of Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Near East: Three Thousand Deities of Anatolia, Syria, Israel, Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, and Elam. United States: Penn State University Press, 2021. Pg. 76-77

“The matter is quite simple: The 27th of Du’uzu, the date of Nabû-zuqup-kenu’s copy, falls short into the short period during which the Babylonians and Assyrians of the first millennium performed an annual ritual of mourning for the god Dumuzi/ Tammuz, who was allowed to rise from the Netherworld and spend three days among the living before returning to the infernal adobe that had become his dismal home. The festival, invoked in the last lines of the Akkadian myth known as “Ishtar’s Descent to the Underworld” began with ritual preparations on the 26th of Du'uzu (June) and ended on the 29th of the same month. According to a letter from Nineveh, the 27th was the day of the 'release' (pašāru) of Dumuzi, that is, the day when the god was able to leave the shadowy realm of the dead and walk again upon the earth."- Frahm, Eckart “Nabû-zuqup-kenu, Gilgamesh XII, and the Rites of Du’uzu”, N.A.B.U. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires 2005, 4–5 no. 5. Pg. 4

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    The Bible does not say. So, this is not a Biblical topic.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 23:00
  • This is really a question about religious history, not about biblical text, so Hermeneutics.SE is not a good site to expect answers to this question. ¶ The book, The Two Babylons, contains many references to forty days of weeping in ancient traditions around the world, often followed by a celebration of new life or resurrection. (The book itself is often criticised, but it provides many citations that can be followed for further research.) Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 13:35
  • Alright then. Thanks, and do you have anything more recent? Because that book was written in 1853. Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 1:35

2 Answers 2


It would appear that the crying lasted some time after the initial event of Ezekiel 8:14 as noted below:

“And He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger. Indeed they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭8‬:‭17‬-‭18

‬ ‭The next chapter has a similar theme:

“Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭9‬:‭1‬-‭4‬ ‭

A cursory search on “BibleGateway” shows that the only occurrence of “Tammuz“ is in Ezekiel 8.

It would appear that God destroyed the idol of Tammuz and its remembrance given the context:

“Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.”” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭8‬:‭6‬ ‭

It would also appear that the Israelites were worshipping a Sumerian deity and were thus punished for it.


Again, as far as a length of days, it seems improbable to determine that clearly.


The weeping referred to by Ezekiel was probably a syncretistic practice and may not have followed the Mesopotamian custom precisely. But the fact that the fourth month of the Jewish calendar is named for Tammuz (similar to Christian calendars having months named for Roman gods) presents an intriguing possibility in terms of a vestige of the custom surviving.

Regarding the Mesopotamian custom, a note in the NABRE says:

The withering of trees and plants that began in late spring was attributed to the descent of Tammuz, the Mesopotamian god of fertility, to the world of the dead beneath the earth. During the fourth month of the year, female worshipers of Tammuz would wail and mourn the god’s disappearance.

Of course, the weeping for Tammuz would be followed later by a celebration of fertility as crops came back to life and were harvested. A biblically approved example of this is the "first fruits" festival of Shavuot. The weeping of the women of Jerusalem may thus have been associated in their minds with the coming Israelite harvest festival. After all, both the Babylonians and the Israelites called the month "Tammuz," they may have reasoned, so perhaps we should follow the old custom and weep now in order to rejoice later in a bountiful harvest. Ezekiel, however, recognized the custom's roots in pagan tradition and considered it an abomination.

The sources are basically agreed that the weeping for Tammuz was practiced in late spring to early summer. However, in Jerusalem, the number of days involved and other details of the tradition may have differed from the custom in Babylon and other areas. Nor do we know how those attending the Temple of Jerusalem (a shrine dedicated to the worship of the God of Israel) might have altered the Mesopotamian custom in Judean context.

As already mentioned, the Jewish calendar's fourth month is named for Tammuz. At the end of Second Temple period, the destruction of Solomon's temple was officially mourned during this month:

The 17th of Tammuz is the public fast-day called "Shib'ah 'Asar be-Tammuz," in commemoration of the breaking down of the walls of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

A more ancient reference to the above is thought to be found in the Book of Zechariah's mention of the "fast of the fourth month." (Zechariah 8:19) Later, the Second Temple would be also included in the commemoration. Today, Jews mourn for three weeks beginning in Tammuz, during the festival Tish B'Av

This is when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile. With an eye to the future, we also learn about the Third Temple, which is yet to be built. The period begins on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE.

Conclusion: The exact number of days referred to in Ezekiel is unknown. Today, Jews mourn for three weeks beginning in the month of Tammuz, but the weeping is for the destruction of the Temple. In a hope that might be seen as an echo of the ancient tradition, some look forward its resurrection as well.

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