The Gemmorah in Jerusalem Rosh Hashana 6a explains the process of adopting the Babylonian names on Months instead of Biblical ones.

דא"ר חנינה שמות חדשים עלו בידם מבבל
R'Hanina said: the names of the Months were brought with them from Babylon

The WIKI on Babylonian_calendar states that although every month is associated with a deity, Tammuz specifically bears the name of their god. The WIKI also says that the name of the god was widely known (and even worshipped) by the Israelites:

The cult of Ishtar and Tammuz may have been introduced to the Kingdom of Judah during the reign of King Manasseh and the Old Testament contains numerous allusions to them. Ezekiel 8:14 mentions Tammuz by name: "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. ..."

Tammuz seems to be the name of a deity or connected to idolatry. How is it that it became the name of a Jewish month given the prohibition of וְשֵׁ֨ם אֱלֹהִ֤ים אֲחֵרִים֙ לֹ֣א תַזְכִּ֔ירוּ לֹ֥א יִשָּׁמַ֖ע עַל־פִּֽיךָ, namely, that it is forbidden to speak the names of such deities?

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    The Talmud tells us that all the names of the months were brough back from Bavel - I guess this includes Tamuz, Jul 2, 2019 at 13:01
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    It's unclear as to what the concern is in your question. Offhand, I don't see a problem with a prohibition of idol worship by naming a month after another nation's god. I'm inferring that this is your concern. If it is, please edit a source relating the two concepts.
    – DanF
    Jul 2, 2019 at 13:44
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    There are a bunch of examples where avodah zara names were used and the Rishonim and Achronim deal with many of them. ממון is a good example since it was the name of the money god, but then the word became more associated with the money and lost its initial connection, Taamuz avodah zara doesnt exist anymore and its possible back then the name of month took the place of the god it used to stand for. It is also known that taamuz was killed,so no longer exists.
    – sam
    Jul 2, 2019 at 14:44
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    Found a very interesting and profound explanation here: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/703099/jewish/…
    – user16403
    Jul 3, 2019 at 5:50
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    Another related article: scholar.google.co.il/scholar?cluster=2675963267133967479 Oct 12, 2019 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


Perhaps the answer is that once the month was named after the deity, the name Tammuz is no longer solely considered the name of a deity, but rather the name of a month. The advantage of this answer is that, if true, it would also explain our use of the names of the days of the week, such as Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which are all named for pagan deities. Although the origins of these names are pagan, they have taken on a new meaning and we do not need to look back at the etymology of these words.

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    How does this answer the question, which asks how this became the name of the month, not how it’s permissible to use it as such?
    – DonielF
    Jul 2, 2019 at 15:49
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    It is not clear what the question is. If it is how it became the name of the month, then obviously it is because שמות חדשים עלו מבבל, but if the question is how they could have taken such a name with them then this is a plausible answer
    – wfb
    Jul 2, 2019 at 15:52
  • @wfb so why haven't you voted to close as Unclear?
    – Double AA
    Jul 3, 2019 at 11:44
  • @DoubleAA en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity
    – wfb
    Jul 3, 2019 at 16:31
  • a very small amount of people today follow the babylonian pantheon Sep 13, 2019 at 2:47

החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים זו מצוה ראשונה שצוה הקב''ה את ישראל על ידי משה, ולכן אמר בארץ מצרים, כי שאר מצות שבתורה היו בהר סיני, או שבא לומר בארץ מצרים, לא בעיר מצרים, כמו שאמרו רבותינו (מכילתא כאן) חוץ לכרך. והיה ראוי שיאמר תחלה דברו אל כל עדת ישראל לאמר החדש הזה לכם וגומר הפרשה, אבל משה ואהרן הם במקום ישראל, ואמר לכם כנגד ישראל לדורותם, וחזר ואמר דברו אל כל עדת ישראל, שיצום במצות שעה לקחת פסח מצרים מבעשור: ולפי מדרשו לכם לומר שקדוש החדש צריך בית דין מומחין (ר''ה כה:) ולכך לא נאמר בתחלה ''דברו אל כל עדת ישראל'', שאין בקדוש החדש אלא משה ואהרן וכיוצא בהם. וטעם החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים, שימנו אותו ישראל חדש הראשון, וממנו ימנו כל החדשים שני ושלישי עד תשלום השנה בשנים עשר חדש, כדי שיהיה זה זכרון בנס הגדול, כי בכל עת שנזכיר החדשים יהיה הנס נזכר, ועל כן אין לחדשים שם בתורה, אלא יאמר בחדש השלישי (שמות י״ט:א׳), ואומר ויהי בשנה השנית בחדש השני נעלה הענן (במדבר י יא), ובחדש השביעי באחד לחודש וגו' (שם כט א), וכן כלם: וכמו שתהיה הזכירה ביום השבת במנותינו ממנו אחד בשבת ושני בשבת, כאשר אפרש (רמב"ן על שמות כ׳:ח׳), כך הזכירה ביציאת מצרים במנותינו החדש הראשון והחדש השני והשלישי לגאולתינו, שאין המנין הזה לשנה, שהרי תחלת שנותינו מתשרי, דכתיב (שמות ל״ד:כ״ב) וחג האסיף תקופת השנה, וכתיב (שם כג טז) בצאת השנה, אם כן כשנקרא לחדש ניסן ראשון ולתשרי שביעי, פתרונו ראשון לגאולה ושביעי אליה וזה טעם ראשון הוא לכם, שאיננו ראשון בשנה, אבל הוא ראשון לכם, שנקרא לו לזכרון גאולתינו: וכבר הזכירו רבותינו זה הענין, ואמרו שמות חדשים עלו עמנו מבבל (ירושלמי ר''ה א ב, ב''ר מח ט), כי מתחלה לא היו להם שמות אצלנו, והסבה בזה, כי מתחלה היה מניינם זכר ליציאת מצרים, אבל כאשר עלינו מבבל ונתקיים מה שאמר הכתוב (ירמיה טז יד-טו) ולא יאמר עוד חי ה' אשר העלה את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים כי אם חי ה' אשר העלה ואשר הביא את בני ישראל מארץ צפון, חזרנו לקרא החדשים בשם שנקראים בארץ בבל, להזכיר כי שם עמדנו ומשם העלנו הש''י כי אלה השמות ניסן אייר וזולתם שמות פרסיים, ולא ימצא רק בספרי נביאי בבל (זכריה א ז, עזרא ו טו, נחמיה א א) ובמגילת אסתר (ג ז). ולכן אמר הכתוב בחדש הראשון הוא חדש ניסן, כמו הפיל פור הוא הגורל (שם). ועוד היום הגוים בארצות פרס ומדי כך הם קוראים אותם ניסן ותשרי וכלם כמונו. והנה נזכיר בחדשים הגאולה השנית כאשר עשינו עד הנה בראשונה: THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO YOU THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS. This is the first commandment which the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded Israel through Moses. Therefore it says here [that the Eternal spoke unto Moses and Aaron] in the land of Egypt, for the rest of the commandments of the Torah were given to him on Mount Sinai. It may be that the intent of the expression, in the land of Egypt, is to exclude the city of Egypt, just as our Rabbis have said: “In the land of Egypt. This means outside the city.”Now Scripture should have first said, Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying: This month shall be unto you the beginning of months, and so on to the end of the chapter. [Why then is the verse, Speak ye, etc., mentioned after the verse, This month, etc.?] It is because Moses and Aaron — [as mentioned in Verse 1: And the Eternal spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: This month, etc.] — are in the place of Israel. Saying it to them is equivalent to saying it to Israel in all their generations. In the following verse, however, He repeats by saying, Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, in order to command them something which is not binding for all time, namely, the buying of the paschal offering in Egypt on the tenth day of Nisan.According to the Midrashic interpretation, lachem (unto you) [in the verse, This month shall be unto you], means that “the Sanctification of the New Moon” is to be performed only by a Court of experts [as Moses and Aaron were]. And this is the reason it does not say at the beginning [of Verse 2], Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, since “the Sanctification of the New Moon” can be performed only by Moses and Aaron and their like.Now the purport of the expression, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months, is that Israel is to count this as the first of the months, and from it they are to count all months — second, third, etc., until a year of twelve months is completed — in order that there be through this enumeration a remembrance of the great miracle, [i.e., the exodus from Egypt, which occurred in the first month]. Whenever we will mention the months, the miracle will be remembered. It is for this reason that the months have no individual names in the Torah. Instead, Scripture says: In the third month; And it came to pass in the second year, in the second month … that the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle of the Testimony; And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, etc., and so in all cases. Just as in counting the weekdays we always remember the Sabbath-day since the weekdays have no specific name of their own, but instead are called “one day in the Sabbath,” “the second day in the Sabbath,” as I will explain, so we remember the exodus from Egypt in our counting “the first month,” “the second month,” “the third month,” etc., to our redemption.This order of the counting of the months is not in regard to the years, for the beginning of our years is from Tishri, [the seventh month], as it is written, And the feast of ingathering at the turn of the year, and it is further written, And the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year. If so, when we call the month of Nisan the first of the months and Tishri the seventh, the meaning thereof is “the first [month] to the redemption” and “the seventh month” thereto. This then is the intent of the expression, it shall be the first month to you, meaning that it is not the first in regard to the year but it is the first “to you,” i.e., that it be called “the first” for the purpose of remembering our redemption.Our Rabbis have already mentioned this matter when saying, “The names of the months came up with us from Babylon,” since at first we had no names for the months. The reason for this [adoption of the names of the months when our ancestors returned from Babylon to build the Second Temple], was that at first their reckoning was a memorial to the exodus from Egypt, but when we came up from Babylon, and the words of Scripture were fulfilled — And it shall no more be said: As the Eternal liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but: As the Eternal liveth that brought up and that led the children of Israel from the land of the north — from then on we began to call the months by the names they were called in the land of Babylon. We are thus reminded that there we stayed [during our exile] and from there, blessed G-d brought us up [to our Land]. These names — Nisan, Iyar, and the others — are Persian names and are to be found only in the books of the prophets of the Babylonian era and in the Scroll of Esther. It is for this reason that Scripture says, In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, just as it says, they cast ‘pur,’ that is, the lot. To this day, people of Persia and Media use these names of the months — Nisan, Tishri, and the others — as we do. Thus through the names of the months we remember our second redemption even as we had done until then with regard to the first one.


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