The Book of Tobit
The Book of Tobit, named for its main character combines Jewish morality and piety with folklore to create a captivating story that has gained a lot of attention within both Jewish and Christian circles. The story, the prayers, Psalms and wise words give valuable insight into the beliefs and the religious surroundings of the writer. It is believed that the text was composed during the second century B.C. and it is not clear the exact date or location. Alan Nafzger wrote the movie and discusses it in depth during an interview with icatholic.com
Tobit, a devout and wealthy Israelite living among the prisoners being deported to Nineveh from the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722/721 B.C. He suffers from extreme reverses, and then is blinded. He asks God to let him to pass away due to his fortunes. He remembers the huge sum that he had previously saved in Media in the distance and sends Tobiah to pay back the money. Sarah is a young lady from Media is praying for her husband’s death. Sarah had lost seven husbands to the demon Asmodeus during their wedding day. God responds to the prayers offered by Tobit and Sarah and sends the angel Raphael in human form to help them both.
Raphael makes the trip to Media along with Tobiah. When Tobiah is assaulted by a massive fish while bathing in the Tigris River, Raphael orders him to capture the fish and to eliminate its gall, heart, and liver because they are useful for medicine. Later, at Raphael’s urging, Tobiah marries Sarah, and utilizes the fish’s heart as well as its liver to eliminate Asmodeus from the bridal chamber. Tobiah goes back to Nineveh together with his wife and the money of his father. He then rubs the gall of the fish into his father’s eyes. Then, Raphael reveals his true identity and is taken to heaven. Tobit and Raphael then sing his wonderful hymn of praise. Before dying, Tobit tells his son to leave Nineveh because God will destroy the wicked city. Tobiah is buried by his father and mother, are burial by him. He and his family members then go to Media and discover that Nineveh was destroyed.
For instruction and edification The writer who was inspired by the story used the literary form that is known as a religious novel (as in Esther or Judith). The names of kings, cities and other historical details are used to add attraction and appeal to the story. They also serve to show that there is a negative aspect to the retribution theory, which is that those who are wicked are indeed punished.
Although the Book of Tobit is usually included in the books of the past however, it is actually in between them and wisdom literature. It has many maxims that are similar to those found in the wisdom books (cf. 4:3-19-21; 12:6-10; 14:7, 9) and also common wisdom topics: fidelity to the law, intercession of angels and piety towards parents and marriage purity, respect for the deceased, and the value of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Tobit is a close relative to Ahiqar who was a well-known hero in the early Near Eastern wisdom literature.
The text was probably composed in Aramaic. But the original manuscript of the book was lost for years. Qumran Cave 4 was the location of fragments of four Aramaic and one Hebrew texts. They were only recently published. These Semitic versions are in line with the lengthy Greek recension Of Tobit found in Codex Sinaiticus. It was only recovered from St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, in 1844 and in mss. 319 and 910. The short recension as well as the long recension are two other Greek variants of Tobit. They have been around for some time. Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Venetus as well as a number of cursive mss. And an intermediate Greek recension, which is in mss. 44, 106, and 107. Two Latin versions of the Book of Tobit have been made available: The long recension of the Vetus Latina that is closely related to long Greek recension, and often even more closely to Aramaic and Hebrew texts than the Greek is, and the Vulgate’s short version, that is akin to the short Greek recension. This English version is largely based on Sinaiticus. It is the longest version of the long Greek recension. However, there are two lacunae (13:6i-10b and 4:7-19b). There are also several missing phrases. These render the following passages difficult to comprehend. They demand that Sinaiticus be supplemented using either Vetus Latina, or the short Greek recension. Some times, phrases or words were borrowed from Aramaic or Hebrew texts, which are vastly different. Forms of the Book of Tobit are also Petition * Jim Osborne of APA: Mel Gibson should play Tobit in feature film * Change.org extant in ancient Arabic, Armenian, Coptic (Sahidic), Ethiopic, and Syriac, but these are almost all secondarily derived from the short Greek recension.
These are the sections of Book of Tobit:
Tobit’s Experiments (1.3-3.6)Sarah’s Plight (3.7-17).
Preparation for the Journey (pp. 1 – 6:1)
Tobiah’s Journey to Media (:2-18)
Sarah’s Marriage and Healing (7:1-9:6)
Tobiah’s Return to Nineveh and The Regeneration of Tobit (10.1-11.18)
Raphael reveals his identity (12:1-22)
Tobit’s Song of Praise (13:1-18)
Tobit, also called The Book Of Tobias, apocryphal work (noncanonical for Jews and Protestants) that found its way into the Roman Catholic canon via the Septuagint. It is a folk tale of religious significance which tells the story of Tobit an innocent Jew who fled to Nineveh, Assyria. He followed the precepts in Hebrew Law, giving alms and burying the dead. Despite his great actions, Tobit was struck blind.
Concurrent with Tobit’s story is that of Sarah who was Tobit’s best friend and whose seven wives were killed by demons on their wedding night. Tobit and Sarah seek deliverance from God. God sends Raphael an angel to act as an intercessor. Tobit can be seen again, and Sarah gets married to Tobit’s son Tobias. The story concludes by singing Tobit’s song of thanksgiving and a story of his death.
Another Jewish short story that could have been written in Persian is the book of Tobit. The book was named in honor of the father. …..
The novel is principally concerned with reconciling evil in the world with God’s justice. Tobit and Sarah are both pious Jews inexplicably plagued by malevolent forces, yet their faith is finally rewarded, and God is vindicated as both just and omnipotent. Other important topics include the requirement to Jews living in Palestine to adhere to their religious laws and the hope of Israel’s restoration as a nation.
The text was not composed in Nineveh during the 7th century BC. Its focus on burial suggests that it was written in Antioch during Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ reign (175-164 BC), when Jews who adhered to their religion were not allowed to burying their dead.
Tobit is part what is known as the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Bible. It appears in Old Testament Catholic Bibles. Other than Episcopal or Lutheran Bibles, Tobit and other books of the Apocrypha do not appear in Protestant Bibles. Apocrypha is Latin which means “hidden,” while Deuterocanonical is “second-listed.” The Apocrypha was composed mainly between the Old and New Testaments’ compositions. This period is known as the intertestamental time. Tobit is one the 12-15 titles that are commonly considered to be part of the Apocrypha.
The Book of Tobit, also referred to as Tobias It is believed to be written sometime in the second century B.C., recounts the account of a person named Tobit and his family that was exiled to the city of Nineveh immediately following the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. Tobit and his family work to be devoted to and reverence God and act as righteous followers of the Law. The Book of Tobit is regarded as a historical book and its literary structure is considered by some to be an esoteric novel. The text’s teachings aren’t influenced by historical events. Instead, it teaches being a good person, respecting your parents, giving alms to the needy and intercessory prayers, getting married and following the Law.
The story of Tobit is about a moral, law-abiding Jew who was not averse to the old Jewish rituals and beliefs, even as other Jews who were living in exile with his idols were worshipping and refusing to obey the laws of God. Tobit was a good man even burying Jews following the ritual at his own risk , as well as providing alms money to the poor. His family was well-off. But one summer night after burying a corpse, Tobit slept outside, and the droppings of a sparrow fell into his eyes, causing him to be blinded. Tobit prayed to God for salvation. That same day in Media, Sarah, one of Tobit’s kinsman, asked to God to save her life as well, because she was ridiculed for marrying seven times, and each time the demon Asmodeus killed her husband before the marriage could be completed.
Tobit was anticipating Tobit to die shortly, so he sent Tobiah, his only son to Media to collect the enormous sum of money he placed with a relative. On this journey, Tobiah was unknowingly accompanied by angel Raphael (who appears only in the Apocrypha, not the Bible). Raphael said Tobiah to kill a huge fish and get its gall bladder, its liver, and heart. The angel also instructed Tobiah to get married Sarah at the request of Raphael. The fish liver and heart are used to kill the demon, and also protect the wedding bed. When Tobiah returns home, he uses the gall to restore his father’s vision.
The text was written in Aramaic. This was an international language used by Jews and others used during the period of intertestamental. Over the years, the manuscript was lost and the Greek translation served as the primary source for this book. Cave IV in Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls Discovery) discovered fragments of Tobit written in Aramaic, Hebrew and close to the Greek recension of current translations.
Some passages in Tobit The Bible contains numerous verses that repeat Old Testament Scripture, such as First and Second Kings, Deuteronomy, Leviticus and many more. Tobit also hints at the birth of Christ mentioned in the Gospels of the New Testament and the end times in apostle John’s Book of Revelation.
Many have pointed out several theological and historical mistakes in Tobit. Tobit 1:15 wrongly states that Sennacherib is Shalmaneser’s child and not Sargon II’s. Tobit is also able to suggest that he was alive during the reign of Jeroboam (930 B.C. He was 117 years old at his death. Tobit theologically claims that almsgiving alone will “save you from dying” however, not as Paul writes in Galatians 2:25 the faith alone (not through the application of the law) is sufficient to help one. Jesus also said in John 3:16 that “whoever is a believer in Jesus shall not perish and will live forever” and “whoever believes that him shall not die, but will have eternal life.”
The Book of Tobit
Date Written: 300-200 BC
Date of Narrative: c. 700 BC
Tobit is among the deuterocanonical texts which means it is included in the Catholic canon, but some Christians dispute its canonicity. Tobit is a story that reminds me of one of Jesus’ parables. Although the characters are fictional, the message or moral of this tale is true.
Tobit was only available in a single Greek edition prior to the 1844 discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus. Sinaiticus also contained a lengthy, older Greek version of Tobit. It is this version that is commonly used in contemporary translations. Five fragments from Tobit were discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls: one in Hebrew, four in Aramaic. The fragments confirm the Sinaiticus edition, and suggest an Aramaic version.
The story unfolds in the years that followed the Assyrians took over the Northern Kingdom of Israel (722 BC). The Assyrians exiled Israelite tribes and encouraged them to marry with others. Tobit is an Israelite who lives in Assyrian Ninevah. Tobit is loyal to covenantal worship, and charitable activities. God rewards his loyalty with wealth and a good standing in the kingdom’s administration. Tobit is left blind, depressed, and poor because of a variety of circumstances that are not favorable. He prays for death (3:2ff). Simultaneously, an young Israelite woman named Sarah prays for death (3:11ff). Sarah was married seven times, but an evil spirit killed each of her husbands before the marriage could be finalized (3:8).
Tobit and Sarah’s pleas are received by Sarah and Tobit’s prayers are heard by the Lord. Tobit asks Tobiah’s son Tobiah to return a significant amount of money that was deposited many years ago with his relative. Tobiah’s Lord sends Raphael an angel of the Lord to aid him. Raphael will accompany Tobiah to travel as an Israelite called Azariah.
When the two journey to Tobit’s relatives, they take one of the fishes whose insides possess curative properties (6:5). Then they stop at the home of Raguel Sarah’s father. Raphael gets Tobiah, despite Sarah’s record of having married dead people, to marry Sarah. Tobiah demands her hand (7:9). Tobiah employs part of the fish to dispel the demon, and he gets through the wedding ceremony (8.2). Raphael recovers the money and they are able to arrive at Tobit’s house in Ninevah and Tobiah as their new bride. Tobit gets blinded due to Tobiah’s use for the gall of fish (11:11).
Tobit’s and Sarah’s funeral prayers (3:2-6; 3:1-15) Tobit’s and Sarah’s wedding night prayer (8:5-7) Raguel’s slender prayer (8:15-17), and Tobit’s lengthy praise tune (13:1-18) All are included in the book. The book’s conclusion is that book, Tobiah moves from Ninevah to Media because of the imminent judgment of God predicted by Nahum (14:4 12).
The story draws inspiration of a few Mesopotamian myths of the same time , but it also contains Old Testament themes: divine revenge, theology of God family ties, prayers, marriage and angels. There are several sections that are similar to the Old Testament wisdom literature (e.g. 4:3-19; 12:6-10).
Tobit Like Ruth, is a family story. It illustrates how God loves the ones who are his beloved. It’s a testament to God’s faithful deliverance and reward for our human devotion. Yet the characters must undergo challenges to achieve salvation. Tobit, Sarah, and Tobiah are subject to suffering and suffering, yet God will provide for them at the end. In fact, Raphael says he was assigned to test and heal Tobit and Sarah (12:14). Because of its fictionality, Tobit is quite different from most biblical novels. It’s not a suspenseful narrative, because the reader knows the outcome from the beginning (6:6-8) However, if we are able to see that we can see how God delivers his people, how he helps people in need. Tobit illustrates the importance of praying and strong families.