Regarding the identification of Tammuz, D. Wolkstein and S. N. Kramer remarked: “There were quite a number of ‘dying gods’ in ancient Sumer, but the best known is Dumuzi, the biblical Tammuz, whom the women of Jerusalem were still mourning in the days of the prophet Ezekiel. Originally, the god Dumuzi was a mortal Sumerian ruler, whose life and death had made a profound impression on the Sumerian thinkers and mythographers.” (Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, New York, 1983, p. 124) In addition, O. R. Gurney wrote: “Dumuzi was originally a man, a king of Erech . . . The humanity of Dumuzi is, moreover, confirmed by the mythological passage in which he says to Inanna ‘I will lead you to the house of my god’. This is not the way in which a god would speak.”-Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. 7, 1962, pp. 150-152.
With the passage of time, the gods of the first Babylonian Empire began to multiply. The pantheon came to have a number of triads of gods, or deities. One such triad was composed of Anu (the god of the sky), Enlil (the god of the earth, air, and storm), and Ea (the god presiding over the waters). Another triad was that of the moon-god Sin, the sun-god Shamash, and the fertility goddess Ishtar, the lover or consort of Tammuz. (PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 529) The Babylonians even had triads of devils, such as the triad of Labartu, Labasu, and Akhkhazu. The worship of heavenly bodies became prominent (Isa 47:13), and various planets came to be associated with certain deities. The planet Jupiter was identified with the chief god of Babylon, Marduk; Venus with Ishtar, a goddess of love and fertility; Saturn with Ninurta, a god of war and hunting and patron of agriculture; Mercury with Nebo, a god of wisdom and agriculture; Mars with Nergal, a god of war and pestilence and lord of the underworld.
The cities of ancient Babylonia came to have their own special guardian deities, somewhat like “patron saints.” In Ur it was Sin; in Eridu, Ea; in Nippur, Enlil; in Cuthah, Nergal; in Borsippa, Nebo, and in the city of Babylon, Marduk (Merodach). At the time that Hammurabi made Babylon the capital of Babylonia, the importance of the city’s favorite god Marduk was, of course, enhanced. Finally Marduk was given the attribute of earlier gods and displaced them in the Babylonian myths. In later periods his proper name “Marduk” was supplanted by the title “Belu” (“Owner”), so that finally he was commonly spoken of as Bel. His wife was called Belit (“Mistress,” par excellence).-See BEL; NEBO No. 4.