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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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The text of the Vulgate in Ezekiel 8:14 , says, that the Prophet saw women sitting in the temple, and weeping for Adonis; but according to the reading of the Hebrew text, they are said to weep for Thamuz, or Tammuz, the hidden one. Among the Egyptians Adonis was adored under the name of Osiris, the husband of Isis. But he was sometimes called by the name of Ammuz, or Tammuz, the concealed, probably to denote his death or burial. The Hebrews, in derision, sometimes call him the dead, Psalms 106:28 ; Leviticus 19:28 ; because they wept for him, and represented him as dead in his coffin; and at other times they denominate him the image of jealousy, Ezekiel 8:3 ; Ezekiel 8:5 , because he was the object of the jealousy of Mars. The Syrians, Phoenicians, and Cyprians, called him Adonis; and Calmet is of opinion that the Ammonites and Moabites designated him by the name of Baal- peor.

The manner in which they celebrated the festival of this false deity was as follows: They represented him as lying dead in his coffin, wept for him, bemoaned themselves, and sought for him with great eagerness and inquietude. After this, they pretended that they had found him again, and that he was still living. At this good news they exhibited marks of the most extravagant joy, and were guilty of a thousand lewd practices, to convince Venus how much they congratulated her on the return and revival of her favourite, as they had before condoled with her on his death. The Hebrew women, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel speaks, celebrated the feasts of Tammuz, or Adonis, in Jerusalem; and God showed the Prophet these women weeping for this infamous god, even in his temple.

Fabulous history gives the following account of Adonis: He was a beautiful young shepherd, the son of Cyniras, king of Cyprus, by his own daughter Myrrha. The goddess Venus fell in love with this youth, and frequently met him on mount Libanus. Mars, who envied this rival, transformed himself into a wild boar, and, as Adonis was hunting, struck him in the groin and killed him. Venus lamented the death of Adonis in an inconsolable manner. The eastern people, in imitation of her mourning, generally established some solemn days for the bewailing of Adonis. After his death, Venus went to the shades, and obtained from Proserpine, that Adonis might be with her six months in the year, and continue the other six in the infernal regions. Upon this were founded those public rejoicings, which succeeded the lamentations of his death. Some say that Adonis was a native of Syria; some, of Cyprus; and others, of Egypt.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Adonis'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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