[b-hebrew] "Desire of Women" in Heb. Text of Dan. 11:37

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Nov 13 10:46:07 EST 2006

Shoshanna Walker wrote:
> It's not "the desire of women" - it's "The most desirable among 
> women", and Daniel is referring to Israel

HH: It seems highly unlikely to me that Daniel is referring to Israel. 
The context indicates that it is some object of worship. I tend to favor 
the Tammuz interpretation, since that was a god worshiped by women in 
Babylon and also Israel:

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous 
god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or 
Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel of 
Ishtar's consort. The Syrian Adonis ("lord"), who was drawn into the 
Greek pantheon, is another counterpart of Tammuz[1] son and consort. The 
name "Tammuz" seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, 
based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, 
Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the 
Ancient Near East as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline 
in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with 
a six-day "funeral" for the god, which was observed even at the very 
door of the Temple in Jerusalem, to the horror of the reformer Ezekiel:

"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. 
Then said he unto to me, 'Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee 
yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these." — 
Ezekiel 8.14-15

Dumuzid/Tammuz being the god of the vegetation cycle, this corresponds 
to the changing of the seasons as the abundance of the earth diminishes 
in his absence. He is a life-death-rebirth deity.

HH: Jessie Weston in "From Ritual to Romance," wrote in 1920:

We know now that the cult of the god Tammuz, who, if not the direct 
original of the Phoenician-Greek Adonis, is at least representative of a 
common parent deity, may be traced back to 3000 B.C., while it persisted 
among the Sabeans at Harran into the Middle Ages.

HH: She writes about the Adonis cult:

The most noticeable feature of the ritual was the prominence assigned to 
women; "ce sont les femmes qui le pleurent, et qui l'accompagnent à sa 
tombe. Elles sanglotent éperdument pendant les nuits,--c'est leur dieu 
plus que tout autre, et seules elles veulent pleurer sa mort, et chanter 
sa résurrection 1."

[It is the women who weep over him, and who accompany him to his tomb. 
They sob desperately during the nights, -- it is their god more than any 
other, and they alone wish to weep over his death, and sing his 

Thus in the tenth century the festival received the Arabic name of 
El-Bûgat, or 'The Festival of the Weeping Women 2.'

HH: The Book of Ezekiel suggests that similar things may have been true 
for the worship of Tammuz.

HH: Tammuz was apparently an important idol. Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths 
of Babylonia and Assyria (1915), wrote:

AMONG the gods of Babylonia none achieved wider and more enduring fame 
than Tammuz, who was loved by Ishtar, the amorous Queen of Heaven--the 
beautiful youth who died and was mourned for and came to life again. He 
does not figure by his popular name in any of the city pantheons, but 
from the earliest times of which we have knowledge until the passing of 
Babylonian civilization, he played a prominent part in the religious 
life of the people.

Harold Holmyard

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