Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 26 >> Swordfish to Tanning >> Tammuz

Tammuz

adonis, worship, month and babylonian

TAMMUZ, tam'ilz, a Babylonian deity, wor shipped by Jews who drifted into idolatry, and mentioned in Scripture, in Ezekiel viii, 14: 'Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz." According to Sayce (in Has tings' Dictionary of the Bible) Tammuz was originally the sun-god, and was a Babylonian deity whose worship was early imported into the West, the name being in Sumerian Amu-Li, "the son of life. In Canaan Tammuz was ad dressed as Adonai, "my lord,' whence the Greek Adonis; and as Tammuz was originally associated with the Babylonian goddess Istar (Astarte), so Adonis was associated with Aphrodite. The Vulgate agrees with this ex planation by its rendering of Tammuz as Adonis. This worship was much practised among the Phcenicians, and was celebrated chiefly at the Phoenician town of Byblus. The ceremonial was prolonged through different scenes. Adonis was supposed to have been killed by a boar; search was made for him, a wooden image being provided to represent Adonis, and on his being found, wild and licen tious orgies began, and the burial of the idol terminated the first portion of the pageant. The river of Adonis, or Nahr Ibrahim, at the season of the year at which this worship took place, becomes discolored from the heavy rains on Lebanon, and in the popular superstition the stream was stained by the blood of Adonis.

The resurrection of Adonis next followed in the ritual, and was celebrated with frantic rejoicings. This idolatry appears to have been originally symbolical, connected with the sun's decline in the winter and his returning strength in summer, or with the death of nature and its revival in spring. The festival seems to have been held at the summer solstice. Movers and Hitzig place it at the autumnal equinox; but Tammuz is with the Jews the name of the fourth or midsummer month. Jerome also as serts that the anniversary of the death and resurrection of the fabulous Adonis was cele brated in the month of June. It was, however, in the sixth month that Ezekiel's vision hap pened. The period of celebration might per haps vary, or the time of the prophets vision might not be coincident with the actual cele bration of the festival. The worship of Adonis was suppressed by Constantine. Consult Lang don, S.,