Tammuz

Each year the old Babylonian Fast of Tammuz is celebrated by Jews from the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Ab. The Fast of Tammuz fell in 1963, for example, on July 9 th and the 9 th of Ab (or "Av") on July 30th.

To cite again The Golden Bough — A Study in Magic and Religion, by Sir James George Frazer:

The worship of Adonis was practiced by the Semitic peoples of Babylonia and Syria, and the Greeks borrowed it from them as early as the 7th Century before Christ. The true name of the deity was Tammuz [Adonis was merely the Semitic word for lord ]. [I]n the religious literature of Babylonia Tammuz appears as the youthful spouse or lover of Ishtar, the great mother goddess, the embodiment of the reproductive energies of nature every year Tammuz was believed to die every year his divine mistress journeyed in quest of him During her absence the passion of love ceased to operate; men and beasts alike forgot to reproduce their kinds: all life was threatened with extinction . . His death appears to have been annually mourned . . by men and women about midsummer in the month named after him, the month of Tammuz.

A Babylonian dirge of lament for Tammuz is quoted (pp.1179-80), one line after another starting with the words:

[page 41] Her lament is for [Reproductive proclivity is the object. Unnatural as well as Sacred Prostitution acts were part of the tribute to Tammuz.] So intimately bound up with the goddess were the sexual functions of the whole animal kingdom that without her presence they could not be discharged His death appears to have been annually mourned, to the shrill music of flutes, by men and women about midsummer in the month named after him, the month of Tammuz. The dirges were seemingly changed over the effigy of the dead god. (The Golden Bough, Frazer, pages 378-9).

Harvest time in Palestine is in the Summer, not the Fall. Frazer treats of the Tammuz rites in connection with the cutting of the harvest as symbolical of the wounding of the procreative god (by a wild boar, in one place), and the insuring of the harvests to come, by wailing over his demise. To quote him:

Nowhere, apparently, have these rites been more widely and solemnly celebrated than in the lands which border the Eastern Mediterranean. Under the names of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, the peoples of Egypt and Western Asia represented the yearly decay of life, especially of vegetable life The supposed death and resurrection of this oriental deity, a god of many names but of essentially one nature We begin with Tammuz or Adonis.

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