Here, God supernaturally reveals to the prophet some of the secret sins of the nation of Israel. One of these sins is lamenting for a pagan god named Tammuz. Who was Tammuz and why would women be weeping for him? The New Encyclopedia Britannica writes in the article "Tammuz": ". . . in Mesopotamian religion, god of fertility embodying the powers for new life in nature in the spring" (Vol. 11, p. 532).
This "nature god" was associated with two yearly festivals, one held in late winter and the other in early spring.
The cult of Tammuz centred around two yearly festivals, one celebrating his marriage to the goddess Inanna, the other lamenting his death at the hands of demons from the netherworld. During the 3rd dynasty of Ur (c. 2112—c. 2004 BC) in the city of Umma (modern Tell Jokha), the marriage of the god was dramatically celebrated in February—March, Umma's Month of the Festival of Tammuz. . . . The celebrations in March—April that marked the death of the god also seem to have been dramatically performed. Many of the laments for the occasion have as a setting a procession out into the desert to the fold of the slain god. (ibid. Emphasis ours.)
What does the worship of Tammuz have to do with the sign of the cross? According to historian Alexander Hislop, Tammuz was intimately associated with the Babylonian mystery religions begun by the worship of Nimrod, Semiramis, and her illegitimate son, Horus. The original form of the Babylonian letter T was † (tau), identical to the crosses used today in this world's Christianity. This was the initial of Tammuz. Referring to this sign of Tammuz, Hislop writes:
That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated into the Mysteries. . . . The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. . . . There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. . . . [T]he X which in itself was not an unnatural symbol of Christ, the true Messiah, and which had once been regarded as such, was allowed to go entirely into disuse, and the Tau, "†", the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah, was everywhere substituted in its stead. (The Two Babylons, 1959, p. 198-199, 204-205)
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Cross: Christian Banner or Pagan Relic?
In verse 14, Ezekiel expresses his "dismay" at yet a greater abomination: "women . . . weeping for Tammuz." This is another pagan practice, a very sexual one involving ritual prostitution. Ezekiel saw them involved in a rite in which they were mourning the death of a Mesopotamian god whose myth said he was resurrected to new life, a mockery of the redeeming death and life-giving resurrection of the true Son of God. This vision reveals that paganism had deeply affected the women in Israelite society as well.
In verse 16, the prophet sees a fourth vision in the inner court of the Temple—"about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple and their faces toward the east, and they were worshipping the sun toward the east." This is obviously some sort of pagan sunrise service, in which they honor the sun more highly than God, to whom they contemptuously show their backsides.
Each abomination is described as being greater in wickedness than the one before. In verse 17, God asks, "Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit abominations which they commit here [in the Temple!]? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger."
These leaders displayed no social responsibility whatsoever. They led their society to become one of rape and rapine, murder and violence in every quarter. Yet these hypocritical leaders dared to return to God's Temple, retiring furtively to its inner rooms to practice their pagan rites "in the dark" (verse 12).
The Torment of the Godly (Part One)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ezekiel 8:14: