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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(דַּמְעָה, δάκρυα ) are the well-known emblem and usual accompaniment of grief; and as grief is generally most violent when it is indulged for the dead, so in the two following passages the wiping away of tears is connected with the abolition of death: Isaiah 25:8, "And the Lord Jehovah shall wipe away the tear from off all faces;" Revelation 7:17, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Tears are wont to be poured out on occasions of mortality: thus in Jeremiah 31:15, "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not;" again in Jeremiah 22:10, "Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him, but weep sore for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more, nor see his native country." Tears are sometimes shed for national calamities: thus in Lamentations 1:2, "She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks;" again in Numbers 14:1, "And all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried, and the people wept that night." In Genesis 21:15-16, Hagar's pitiable case is thus described, "And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow- shot; for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice and wept." Tears are often the symbol of divine judgments, as they are sometimes also of human oppressions. (See Ecclesiastes 4:1; Acts 20:19; Jeremiah 14:17.) They are sometimes the fruit of repentance and contrition. (See Hebrews 12:7 : Matthew 26:15.) But commonly they are the result of natural affection deploring a beloved object, of which the examples are too obvious and numerous to cite. But whatever the causes of tears to the righteous, all these shall be abolished, which is what is meant by "God's wiping away all tears from their eyes." For death, oppression, calamity, repentance, shall have no place in the heavenly region. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. (See GRIEF).

For the valley of tears (Psalms 84:6), (See BACA). For monographs on the tears of Christ over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), see Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 53. Comp. Kiesling, De Lacrimis Vatum (Lips. 1747). (See JESUS CHRIST). The so-called lachrymatories, or "tear-bottles," supposed by some to have been used for collecting the tears of the mourners at the graves of the ancients (Thomson, Land and Book, i, 147), were rather vessels for perfumery or flowers (see the Penny Cyclop. s.v.).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tears'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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