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Tear Jerker / The Bible

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Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

Jesus wept.
John 11:35 (ESV). Also, the shortest verse in the whole Bible.

WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.

  • Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac.
    • An old Jewish legend attached to the story makes it even worse. The very next chapter starts by reporting the death of Sarah; according to the legend, she died of grief because she thought her husband had sacrificed their son.
  • Esau comes to visit his dying father, only to find to their mutual shock that while he was away hunting the game his father asked for, his brother Jacob impersonated him to steal their father's deathbed blessing - everything that Isaac could think of, including the servitude of his brothers, and there's no undoing it. Esau ends up crying and pleading if there isn't anything left to bless him with.
  • Leah, Jacob's first wife due to her father's trickery, The Unfavorite compared to her sister Rachel and knows it, with her lines after giving birth to her first 3 sons desperately hoping that Jacob would find favor in her for giving him sons.
  • Rachel, Jacob's second wife and true love, spent many years unable to birth children, unlike her sister, finally gave birth to Joseph, only to ask God for more, die giving birth to Benjamin, who she originally named Ben-Oni meaning "son of my sorrow", and be buried alone.
    • Before the last fact, the tearjerker might be subverted, as another interpretation of the name she suggested is "son of my strength". The word yamin in "Benjamin" refers to the side of the dominant hand in most people. It was often used to symbolize power.
  • Rachel's son, Joseph, goes through a horrific Trauma Conga Line. He's thrown into a pit to die by his jealous brothers and lifted out, only to be sold into slavery in Egypt. Then he's sexually harassed by his master's wife and thrown into prison for years based on a False Rape Accusation. True, he eventually rises from Rags to Riches, but his happy ending is hard-earned. Even in the later part of his story, at his most prosperous, he repeatedly weeps Manly Tears as he reunites with his brothers and finally comes to terms with what they did to him. Meanwhile, his father Jacob spends more than twenty years mourning his favorite son's apparent death and becomes desperately protective of his and Rachel's one remaining son Benjamin. Even after the family happily reunites, the fact remains that they can't go home again and eventually die in Egypt, away from the Promised Land.
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  • The Psalm that David wrote in response to Jonathan's and Saul's deaths. As well as the enormous Heroic BSoD he had when he learned about it.
  • David's daughter Tamar begging her own half-brother Amnon not to rape her and then to at least not throw her out like garbage afterward.
  • The way David wept for Absalom, especially considering he would have lost his throne and possibly his life if Absalom had won.
  • Jesus's death. Even if you're not a Christian, you gotta feel for the guy.
  • Some of Jesus's miracles are tearjerking. Specially when he revived a poor little girl. And when he wept before he revived his old friend Lazarus.
    • Even worse, people have speculated that he was weeping not because Lazarus had died (he knew he could bring him back if God wanted), but because he was going to have to take him away from Heaven. He cared about him so much that he didn't want him to have to come back and suffer death on Earth again.
      • It could be assumed that Jesus crying before Lazarus's grave was proof once and for all that he was human and not just the Son of God taking the form of a human. Jesus felt human emotions and pains just as we do. As a human, Jesus was weeping over the tyranny of death and how it had claimed his friend—just because he knew God could bring his friend back doesn't mean he couldn't still feel sorrow over the loss of his friend and sympathize with Lazarus's family who likewise suffered such sorrow. In his humanity, Jesus wept for Lazarus, but as God, He brought him Back from the Dead.
  • 2 Timothy. Knowing that he'll be executed soon, Paul urges Timothy, whom he calls his son, to hurry to Rome so they can see each other before he (Paul) dies.
  • Ezra reading the Book of the Law in front of a crowd of truly repentant Jews.
    • Also, the rebuilding of the Temple was a Tear Jerker for old folks who remembered the old one before it was destroyed.
  • Crosses over with Fridge Horror but, when properly examined, the Book of Ecclesiastes was basically a book written by the dude who had been given the gift of Wisdom from God...and it's totally depressing. The last two verses do bring up some degree of hope, though.
  • Moses dying just before he reaches the Promised Land, alone with his dream home forever out of reach. Very depressing end for a prophet of God.
    • ...Until you get to the New Testament, where Jesus talks to him on the mountain with Elijah. The mountain was in the Promised Land, so Moses did get his wish, AND he got to talk to Jesus; it just took a little while.
  • Jesus saying on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This is sad on many levels when you take time to analyze it. Jesus being the sacrificial lamb for humanity means that he has had sin placed on him to bear for our sake, and God the Father cannot be in the presence of sin so he must cut ties with Jesus. Jesus being the Son of God has had an eternal relationship with the Father no one can comprehend; for the first time, that connection has been cut off. The sheer agony of losing his connection with the Father was greater than the pain of the cross itself. When you look at that saying from this point of view, it solidifies how lonely Jesus was. His friends have betrayed or abandoned him in his time of need, and his own Heavenly Father has cut off their bond. On the cross, Jesus felt a terrible loneliness unlike any other.
    • Depending on whether or not you agree with him, G. K. Chesterton sees this as Fridge Brilliance. In his final moments, Jesus essentially forsakes God, making him an atheist. Combined with him now atoning for all sin, Jesus is sent to Hell where he proceeds to save the souls of the damned and put Satan in his place...making it a weird win for atheism.
      • Another interpretation is that "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is a reference to one of the Psalms. It ends with the Suffering Servant saved by God.
      • Or both. He WAS forsaken by God, and Psalm 22 was a prophecy of His passion (after all, it includes the verse "they pierced my hands and feet") that ended in victory. And in that time, to remind people of a Scripture, rabbis quoted the first verse/words only, so people could KNOW what was happening thanks to those words.
      • Basically, Jesus was suffering everything that humans suffered... including feeling that God has abandoned them. We all feel that way sometimes, and Jesus wanted us to know that feeling that way is normal... and that God hasn't abandoned us at those times.
    • Before he was arrested, Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, asking "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me" (Luke 22:42). The book goes on to say "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground" (Luke 22:44). The poor guy was terrified, and it's kind of heartbreaking to see him begging for his life like that.
      • Even moreso, imagine how it must have been for God at that moment: His Son is literally begging for Him to stop this torture, but they both know that it has to continue or there will have been no point to it at all.
  • In the Book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve are told to leave the Garden of Eden after they have sinned. They are to work hard for their survival, Eve has to feel the pain of childbirth, and they are to grow old and return to the dust that they originated from. Though it gives a hopeful prediction that God would send one of Eve's offspring to destroy the old serpent Satan. It is a Bittersweet Ending, though.
    • Orthodox Christianity states that the corruption of humans is THE Moral Event Horizon for Satan and his demons. The Holy Tradition states that, after that, there's no redemption, as though he was already corrupted by his pride, Satan still had his chance. After that, no.
  • Mary. A mother almost always has to let their child go in some circumstances, but to have your son publicly executed seriously sucks. Oh, and she knew that something was going to happen to Him, as the first human to know of His divine nature, but she still agreed to bear him. If you're still not convinced, check out the song "Mary, Did You Know."
    • Imagine it all from her POV. Her kid, fully human yet fully God, will grow up, do all these great things...and then be horribly killed by the Romans because of that. She even cradled his dead body after his crucifixion. What must've been going through her head is utterly unimaginable.
    • She is even given a Foreshadowing by Simeon at the Temple when Jesus is presented: "A sword shall pierce thy own soul".
  • In the Book of Judges, chapter 11, Jephthah made a rash vow (which are later warned against in the New Testament) that, if God helped him to win a particular battle and return home safely, he would sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him when he returned. Israel beat their enemies handily. When Jephthah returned home, his daughter (a virgin, and given the customs of that time when girls were married off fairly young, probably only a teenager) was there to greet him.
  • The whole of Lamentations. It's like the post-mortem of an entire civilization.
  • Jeremiah's life is quite depressing. He spends years desperately trying to get the people of Judah to give up their wicked ways and return to God. In return, he's mocked by the people and prosecuted as an enemy of the state. And when Judah's downfall finally happens, he's forcefully taken from his homeland and spends the rest of his life in Egypt. There's a reason he's called "The weeping prophet."
    • From Bad to Worse According to a tradition that is preserved in extrabiblical sources, he was stoned to death by his exasperated fellow countrymen in Egypt.

  • The Book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher, once a knowledgeable person who had everything, has to accept the futility of life and how meaningless it is, and is tormented by the very wisdom he has. He's been Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, but he can't. Everything he has will one day fade away, everything he knows will become meaningless. And there's nothing new under the sun. And in the end, no one can tell what happens after death, or to comprehend the status of being non-existent after death.
  • Hosea. In quite a few places really, though chapter eleven stands out. God declares that he is going to do away with Israel altogether and utterly destroy them and forget his covenant... But he just can't do it. He loves Israel too much.
  • Jesus lamenting for Jerusalem: "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who stoned the prophets and killed those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather you as a hen gathers her brood beneath her wings but you would not come."
  • All the lament psalms can have this, but Psalm 88 is the only Downer Ending psalm finishing with the line, "Darkness is my only friend".
  • The first few verses of Romans 9, wherein Paul declares that he would willingly give his soul for the sake of his beloved people, Israel.
  • In a way, God's perspective on the Ten Plagues of Egypt. This is a being who picked one people to serve as His example to the world but who still loves everyone, and wants to make them right in spite of their evils. In order to teach His just commandments, He has to establish the fact that He is the one and only god to listen to. To do this, He subjects an entire civilization to ten consecutive plagues, from turning their river to blood to killing their firstborn, hardening the reigning pharaoh's heart to ensure that he can get through all of them and demonstrate to everyone on Earth what a bad idea it is to mess with God. And it doesn't even stick with one generation of God's own chosen people, who lose their spot in the Holy Land because of it. That I Did What I Had to Do / Good Is Not Nice moment, followed by it not sinking in would be torture on a regular human, much less a god who is well aware of the suffering of every good and evil person on Earth, and who still loves them despite of what they do.
  • Job. Here's a guy who had it all: Wealth, land, good health, a nice family, and total faith in God. Then he gets designated as a Cosmic Plaything (as part of a bet between Satan and God, the former saying that Job would curse God if he lost his material possessions) and he proceeds to lose everything on one really bad day. Worse, his "friends" come along and tell him that since good people aren't punished, he brought the whole thing upon himself. In the end, he gets everything back (and then some), but it's hard not to feel for the guy especially since he lost not only his material possessions but also his children, which cannot be replaced even if God gave him twice the number of children when it was plain Job didn't curse God's name.
  • Judas Iscariot committing suicide after having a literal My God, What Have I Done? moment. It's even worse for those who believe in predestination since that would mean Judas was specifically chosen to betray the Son of God.
    • If you think about it, Judas actually didn't have to die. Because Jesus's death and subsequent resurrection meant the redemption of mankind and all its sins, it's likely Judas' betrayal would have been forgiven had he repented—but Judas was too wrapped up in his own guilt and despair that he just couldn't bear it anymore.
    • To add to this, there is a theory that he actually committed suicide after Jesus resurrected and appeared in front of him as the text states that Jesus appeared before the twelve before Matthias, the one who replaced him was even introduced.
    • C. S. Lewis theorized that had Judas not taken his own life, but instead repented as Peter did, he could have gone on to be a great disciple and saint. What A Senseless Waste Of Not Just A Human Life But A Human Soul As Well!
  • The Massacre of the Innocent, Herod's killing of young children in the vicinity of Bethlehem in order to get rid of the newborn Jesus. Made worse by the amount of art depicting this scene; Giotto's and Tintoretto's takes come to mind as tearjerking Nightmare Fuel.