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?

  • presumably it was originally the pagan name for that month/time of year (likely associated with their zodiac)... see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammuz_(Babylonian_calendar)
    – Loewian
    Jul 2, 2019 at 5:36
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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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    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

So interestingly, an article in the OU here writes that the name of the month Tammuz despite being the name of a pagan god was actually appropriate for what the month would come to represent:

However, in the context of the month that we are dealing with, a month of tragedies which would lead to still greater tragedies, the appropriateness of the name becomes clear. The Prophet Yechezkel was being shown by G-d the reasons for His great Anger against the Jewish People, namely, the various forms of idol-worship which had been adopted by them to replace the Divine Service. This behavior would result, if the Jewish People would not repent, in the Destruction of the Once-Holy, but now desecrated, Temple.

In addition it is worth noting that Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah cheilek 2, siman 53) upon being asked if a Jewish teacher who was employed by a non-Jewish school could teach about the religious aspects of ancient Greece and Rome, mentions that if these gods are no longer worshipped there is nothing wrong in using these terms. So in the case of the month Tammuz, since such a deity is no longer worshipped there would be no problem in using its name for the month.

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    This answer is unsatisfying because during the times of the Mishnah and Gemmarah it's very likely Tammuz was still being worshipped.
    – Aaron
    Jun 8, 2020 at 17:48

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