Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Biblical Month of Tammuz

Today is the beginning the biblical month of Tammuz.

Eze 8:11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'" 13 And He said to me, "Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing." 14 So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD'S house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. (NKJV)

This is the only place in the Bible where the word ‘Tammuz’ is used.  Here in Ezekiel, Tammuz refers to a pagan god of the Babylonians.  As with the names of the other months, Tammuz is borrowed from ancient Babylon.  In almost all cases in the Bible, the months are normally referred to by number.  Tammuz is the fourth month.

But why name a month after a pagan idol?  This seems rather odd until you realize that like the tragedy of falling away from the one true God which leads to greater tragedy and destruction, the Biblical month of Tammuz is a month of remembrance of tragedies which leads to the month of Av, a month of greater tragedies still.

The appropriateness of the name of the month of Tammuz becomes clear when we look at the broader context of Ezekiel chapter 8.  The Prophet Ezekiel was being shown by God the reasons for His anger against the Jewish People.  They had taken various forms of idol-worship and adopted them by incorporating them into the Temple service. The result of which would be, if the Jewish People would not repent, the destruction of the once-holy, but now desecrated Temple.  This destruction happened twice on the same day, the 9th day of the month of Av.  The first Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av in 586 BCE and the second Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av in 70 CE.  Ezekiel was giving a warning of this destruction in chapter 8.

Here are a few interesting things that happened in history during this important month.

1 Tammuz: Birth and death of Joseph

3 Tammuz: The sun stands still for Joshua, Joshua 10:11-14

9 Tammuz: The priests in the First Temple stopped offering the daily sacrifice on this day due to the shortage of sheep during the siege and the next year the walls of Jerusalem were breached on this day after many months of siege by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces.

16 Tammuz: Golden calf is made, Exodus 32:1-5

17 Tammuz: Moses breaks the stone tablets. Exodus 32:6-19: Temple service disrupted, Jeremiah 52:6-7: Jerusalem wall breached in 69CE.  In 2nd Kings 21:7  King Menashe, one of the worst of the Jewish kings, had an idol placed in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple.  The Talmud, in Masechet Taanit 28b, says that in the time of the Roman persecution, Apostomos, captain of the occupation forces, did the same, and publicly burned the Torah. Both of these acts were considered open blasphemy and desecration.  These were followed by Titus and Rome breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 69 CE

In later years Pope Gregory IX ordered the confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud in 1239. In 1391, more than 4,000 Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain.  In 1559 the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted.  The Kovno ghetto was liquidated on this day in 1944 and in 1970 Libya ordered the confiscation of Jewish property.

The day of the Fast of the Fourth Month is observed from the break of dawn until night.  It is one of four Jewish fasts to be observed in this manner. The others are on 3 Tishrei, 10 Tevet and 13 Adar.  This "Fast of the Fourth Month" mentioned by the prophet Zechariah will be transformed in the millennial reign of Messiah as a day that "shall be joy to the House of Judah" full of "gladness and cheerful feasts".

Zechariah 8:19 NKJV 19 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'The fast of the fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'

18 Tammuz: The golden calf destroyed, Exodus 32:20-35

As you can see the Biblical month of Tammuz is a month marked by great tragedies in history, and as such the name seems appropriate.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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