🔼The name Tammuz: Summary
- Unclear, but perhaps Son Of Life
- Unclear, but perhaps from the Akkadian term du-u-zu, meaning just that.
🔼The name Tammuz in the Bible
The name Tammuz occurs once in the Bible. When Ezekiel was sitting in his house in Babylon together with the elders of Judah, YHWH showed him a series of horrible scenes in which the people of Israel were violating their covenant with the Lord of Life. When he brought the prophet to the north gate of the visionary Temple, he saw women sitting there weeping for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14).
Tammuz or Dummuzi, was a Sumerian slash Mesopotamian fertility god (known in Greek as Adonis, after the Semitic epithet Adonai), whose counterpart was called Inanna (Ishtar, Astarte, Ashtoreth) and whose "descent into hell" was probably the inspiration for the insistence of the Apostles' Creed that Jesus did the same thing (he didn't, as far as the Bible tells; the phrase descendit ad inferna was shoehorned into the Nicene Creed by the Aquileian Church and somehow made its way into the Apostles' Creed still used today).
Tammuz's mother was called Duttur, and she was a ewe (perhaps comparable with Rachel). Tammuz was often addressed as Sipad, which means Shepherd, and probably started his mythological life as a pastoral deity, responsible for the growing of grass, lambs to be healthy and maternal milk to flow in abundance (or even more primitive, as a legendary-times monarch, comparable with king Mizraim of Egypt; hence the related Osiris myth). When his cult spread, his character slowly changed from pastoral to agricultural (comparable with Baal in the Levant). Texts suggest that in Assyria Tammuz represented the power in grain, which died when grain was milled.
Generally, Tammuz's death was ascribed to acts of demons from the netherworld, and his death was lamented in an annual feast in March-April during a few days of mourning followed by a few days of rejoicing about the resurrection (coinciding with Christian Easter, and about three months before the Hebrew month of Tammuz, which was named after the deity — see our article on the Hebrew Calendar for more mysteries of the Jewish agricultural year).
🔼Jesus and Tammuz
It's obvious that the myth of Tammuz offers many similarities to the story of Jesus of Nazareth, and that's because both have nothing to do with some made-up tale and everything with organizing the observable world into a comprehensible account.
The evangel of Jesus Christ has obviously been much molested over the years and many of Christianity's most cherished rites are blatantly pagan and were reinserted into the story at the behest of people who had power but no sense of theology. The main difference between the story of Jesus and that of Tammuz (in a strictly theoretical, non-religious sense) is that the story of Tammuz merely tells a part while the evangel tells the whole of the story of the universe and everything in it. And just like the Grand Unified Theory will one day contain, explain and most probably modify E=mc2, so does the evangel contain and modify the story of Tammuz.
The main objection against Tammuz comes from the identical failure of every other deity, namely its locality and confinement. Every element of the universe needs the whole of the universe to function and to derive its identity from. Any story that tells only a part of the whole and omits the whole must be incomplete to a detrimental degree. The monotheistic decree demands that we never look at a part without relating it to the whole, and simple fandom or just mourning for a Shepherd who died and rose again whilst being clueless about what this entails on a cosmic scale is the penultimate abomination.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Tammuz
The name Tammuz is so ancient that its literal meaning is unclear to us moderns and probably also to people in Biblical times. From the sparse inscriptions we have it appears that this name started out as an Akkadian term du-u-zu, Son Of Life, from du, son, and zi, life. This original appears to have been expanded into Dumu-zu, then transformed into Dumuzi and finally into Tammuz. But the evidence for this transition is so thin that it's widely doubted.
The Hebrew transliteration of our name also yields very little foothold. It might be construed to be formed from the common prefix ת (taw, in this case something of an intensifier) and the root מוז or מזז or מזה; none of which exists but may in turn have to do with זוז (zwz), meaning to move or rise (which would cleverly match a fertility deity but which would also be a rather unfounded guess).
Since the meaning is ultimately unknown, guesstimates widely vary:
- Son Of Life (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible)
- The Flawless Young (Encyclopedia Britannica).
- According to Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), the Egyptian historian Manetho translated the name Tammuz with occultus or hidden, but Jones adds: "Some eminent men think that this name signifies 'Giver of the vine', and therefore conclude that Tammuz is the same as Bacchus".
- From a Hebrew root, "to melt down" (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary; here at Abarim Publications we have been unable to identify this root and are quietly convinced that JFB is shooting blanks at a barn door).
- "Tammuz has been explained as meaning "victorious," or "disappearance," or "burning;" but all etymologies are conjectural" (Pulpit Commentary).