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TEARS (דִּמְעָה, H1965; δάκρυα). The secretions of the lacrimal gland. The gland is about the size and shape of an almond and is located on the upper lateral aspect of each eye socket. The tears are a colorless fluid composed of sodium and calcium salts, principally sodium chloride, and albumen dissolved in a watery fluid derived from blood serum. These secretions are poured out between the globe of the eye and the eyelids to facilitate motion of the parts and to assist in floating away any irritating particles. The secretion of tears may be increased through nerve stimulation of the lacrimal glands in response to irritation in the eyes and/or certain types of emotional stress. After the tears have bathed the eyeball and the inner aspect of the eyelids, they are drained off at the nasal side of the eye through minute orifices into the two (upper and lower) lacrimal canals, which in turn empty the fluid into the lacrimal sac located on and in the bony structure of the nose whence the fluid drains into the nasal passages through the nasal duct. It is when the tears are secreted in overabundance, beyond the immediate capacity of the lacrimal canals to carry off so much fluid, that they overflow from the eye sac and pour down over the cheeks.


H. Gray, Anatomy of the Human Body, 27th ed. (1959), 1121, 1122.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The expression in Ps 56:8 in which the Psalmist desires that God should remember his wanderings and his tears has given rise to a curious mistake. There is a paronomasia in the passage as he pleads that God should record his wanderings (Hebrew, nodh) and that his tears should be put into God’s no’-dh (receptacle or bottle). No’dh literally means a leathern or skin bottle, as is evident from Ps 119:83 and Jos 9:4-13. The request is obviously figurative, as there is no evidence that there was even a symbolical collection of tears into a bottle in any Semitic funeral ritual, and there is no foundation whatever for the modern identification of the long, narrow perfume jars so frequently found in late Jewish and Greek-Jewish graves, as "lachrymatories" or tear bottles.

See Bottle.

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