TAM'MUZ, a word which occurs once in the Bible—viz., Ezek. viii. 14: " And behold,. there sat women weeping for Tammuz." The derivation of the word is as problematic as is the meaning itself. The Vulgate (all the other versions give the word unchanged— thereby confessing the universal ignorance ou the subject) has Adonis, and this has indeed been accepted as the most credible explanation of this strange name. It probably means the Phenician god Adonis, whose chief temple and worship was at Byblus, but who at an early period had been introduced into Syria, Cyprus, and Greece, where he was connected with Aphrodite. His festivals were partly the expressions of joy, partly of mourning. In the latter the women gave themselves up to the most unmitigated grief over the "lost Adonis," shaved off their hair, and sacrificed their chastity in his temples. The days of mourning were completed by a solemn burial of an image of the god. This period was followed by a succession of festive and joyful days, in honor of the resurrection of Adonis. The river Adonis (Nahr Ibrahim) (see PHENICIA), which
once a year "ran purple to the sea" from the Lebanon, was supposed to be tinged by the blood of the god; and a vessel sent off from Alexandria, and carried by the tide to Byblus, used to inform the mourners by letter that he had been found again. There is no doubt that the different phases of the year, or rather the disappearance and reappearance of the enlivening rays of the sun, and their influence upon all nature (see Ostrus) were symbolized in these originally poetical, afterward licentious and fanatical rites. The time of the year at which these feasts were celebrated has given rise to much dispute. Most probably, they took place at the summer solstice; and the designation of a Hebrew month as Thamuz—which falls about our August—seems further to favor this opinion.