Apocrypha

What is the Book of Tobit?

You may or may not have heard of Tobit. Tobit is one of my favourite books in the Apocrypha and I would like to share with you why.

Although the book is named after Tobit, he does not actually make an appearance in much of the book. There are two people in the book who are going through a difficult time. Tobit is a righteous man but has been blinded after sleeping outside and having birds poop in his eyes. Disgusting I know. At the same time, there is a girl named Sarah who has been married seven times and each time her husband has been killed on their wedding night by a demon. Not fun. Both Tobit and Sarah pray to God for help.

Some time later, Tobit remembers that he left some money in trust in a different town. Tobit decides to send his son Tobias to retrieve the money but also wants Tobias to bring someone with him to help on the mission. Tobias finds a man named Azariah who is willing to go with him. This is where the answer to prayer comes in. Azariah is actually the angel Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter before the glory of the Lord. (Tobit 12:15) This is likely the Jewish concept of the archangels.

On their journey, Tobias and Azariah come across a fish. Azariah tells Tobit to keep some of the parts of the fish as some can be used to restore Tobit’s sight and others can be used to drive away demons.

On the journey to get the money, the pair come across Sarah’s family. Tobias and Sarah fall in love and decide to get married despite her bad track record. Azariah reminds Tobias about the fish guts and so he pours them into the fire. The demon Asmodeus cannot handle the smell (no word on what the newlyweds thought of it) and takes off. Azariah, in his angel form of Raphael, pursues Asmodeus and binds him.

Sarah’s parents are so filled with faith that they dig a grave for Tobias before checking to see how the happy couple are. They are shocked to see everything fine and the curse broken.

In the end, everything works out. Tobias and Sarah are happy. Tobit is healed of his blindness and he received his money.

One of the interesting aspects of Tobit is that it has a form of the golden rule:

And what you hate, do not do to anyone. (Tobit 4:15)

You can find the text for Tobit online but I’m using the one found in the The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

If you want to learn more about the Apocrypha, I recommend that you listen to this podcast episode.

 

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