Skip to main content

Tammuz

TAMMUZ

TAMMUZ (Heb. תַּמּוּז; from Sumerian Dumuzi, "Invigorator of the Child"), the Sumerian-Babylonian fertility god. He is the invigorating power in dates, grain, and milk, and hence his role as a shepherd in Sumerian literature (Th. Jacobsen).

In ancient Mesopotamia sacred marriage rites were conducted in the spring to ensure Tammuz' presence as manifest in the fertility of flocks and earth. The climax of the rites was the performance of the marriage act between the king or governor and the chief priestess. Depictions on seals from the Proto-Literate period (3500–3200 b.c.e.) indicate the great antiquity of this rite. Numerous sacred marriage texts revolving around fertility rites have survived from later periods.

The death of vegetation in the intense heat of the summer was interpreted as Tammuz' departure to the netherworld. It is described in the Sumerian myth "Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld," which is also extant in an Akkadian version.

During the Babylonian Exile the Jews named the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar (c. July) after Tammuz (see next entry). In pre-Exilic Judah, Isaiah (17:10–11) has been supposed (very questionably) to allude to the Tammuz rites, which included planting of anemone seeds. Ezekiel (8:14) in a vision of the Jerusalem Temple, which he had in his Babylonian exile, saw women, at the gate of the inner forecourt, weeping for Tammuz.

Tammuz' summer departure was also mourned by the Phoenicians, who called him Adon, i.e., "Lord." They passed the ritual on to the Greeks who Grecized the name into Adonis.

bibliography:

A. Moortgat, Tammuz, (1949); Th. Jacobsen, in: H. Frankfort et al. (eds.), Before Philosophy (1949), 213–6; idem, in: History of Religions, 1 (1962), 180–213; S.N. Kramer, in: Pritchard, Texts, 41–42, 52–57, 106–9; ibid (19693), 637–45; idem, The Sumerians (1963), 153–60; idem, in: Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 107 (1963), 485–527; idem, The Sacred Marriage Rite (1969); E.Y. Kutscher, Millim ve-Toledoteihen (1961), 59–61; O.R. Gurney, in: jss, 7 (1962), 147–60.

[Raphael Kutscher]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tammuz." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tammuz." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tammuz

"Tammuz." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/tammuz

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.