Reading 135/341, Tobit 1-4

Today we begin Tobit, the first of the Deuterocanonical books. These books were written in Greek and do not appear in the Protestant Old Testament, so if you are looking for Tobit in your Bible and cannot find it, that is why. This story is an old Jewish story, a sort of fairy tale. What place a fairy tale has in the Bible is an important question.


The book of the words of Tobit, son of Tobiel, the son of Ananiel, the son of Aduel, the son of Gabael, of the seed of Asael, of the tribe of Nephthali; Who in the time of Enemessar king of the Assyrians was led captive out of Thisbe, which is at the right hand of that city, which is called properly Nephthali in Galilee above Aser. I Tobit have walked all the days of my life in the ways of truth and justice, and I did many almsdeeds to my brethren, and my nation, who came with me to Nineve, into the land of the Assyrians. And when I was in mine own country, in the land of Israel being but young, all the tribe of Nephthali my father fell from the house of Jerusalem, which was chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, that all the tribes should sacrifice there, where the temple of the habitation of the most High was consecrated and built for all ages. Now all the tribes which together revolted, and the house of my father Nephthali, sacrificed unto the heifer Baal. But I alone went often to Jerusalem at the feasts, as it was ordained unto all the people of Israel by an everlasting decree, having the firstfruits and tenths of increase, with what was first shorn, and them gave I at the altar to the priests the children of Aaron. The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem, another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem, And the third I gave unto them to whom it was meet, as Debora my father's mother had commanded me, because I was left an orphan by my father. Furthermore, when I was come to the age of a man, I married Anna of mine own kindred, and of her I begat Tobias. And when we were carried away captives to Nineve, all my brethren and those that were of my kindred did eat of the bread of the Gentiles. But I kept myself from eating; Because I remembered God with all my heart. And the most High gave me grace and favour before Enemessar, so that I was his purveyor. And I went into Media, and left in trust with Gabael, the brother of Gabrias, at Rages a city of Media ten talents of silver. Now when Enemessar was dead, Sennacherib his son reigned in his stead; whose estate was troubled, that I could not go into Media. And in the time of Enemessar I gave many alms to my brethren, and gave my bread to the hungry, And my clothes to the naked, and if I saw any of my nation dead, or cast about the walls of Nineve, I buried him. And if the king Sennacherib had slain any, when he was come, and fled from Judea, I buried them privily; for in his wrath he killed many; but the bodies were not found, when they were sought for of the king. And when one of the Ninevites went and complained of me to the king, that I buried them, and hid myself; understanding that I was sought for to be put to death, I withdrew myself for fear. Then all my goods were forcibly taken away, nor was there any thing left me, beside my wife Anna and my son Tobias. And there passed not five and fifty days, before two of his sons killed him, and they fled into the mountains of Ararath, and Sarchedonus his son reigned in his stead; who appointed over his father's accounts, and over all his affairs, Achiacharus my brother Anael's son. And Achiacharus intreating for me, I returned to Nineve. Now Achiacharus was cupbearer, and keeper of the signet, and steward, and overseer of the accounts, and Sarchedonus appointed him next unto him, and he was my brother's son. Now when I was come home again, and my wife Anna was restored unto me, with my son Tobias, in the feast of Pentecost, which is the holy feast of the seven weeks, there was a good dinner prepared me, in the which I sat down to eat. And when I saw abundance of meat, I said to my son, Go and bring what poor man soever thou shalt find out of our brethren, who is mindful of the Lord, and, lo, I tarry for thee. But he came again, and said, Father, one of our nation is strangled, and is cast out in the marketplace. Then before I had tasted of any meat, I started up, and took him up into a room until the going down of the sun. Then I returned, and washed myself, and ate my meat in heaviness, Remembering that prophecy of Amos, as he said, Your feasts shall be turned into mourning, and all your mirth into lamentation. Therefore I wept, and after the going down of the sun I went and made a grave, and buried him. But my neighbours mocked me, and said, This man is not yet afraid to be put to death for this matter, who fled away, and yet, lo, he burieth the dead again. The same night also I returned from the burial, and slept by the wall of my courtyard, being polluted and my face was uncovered, And I knew not that there were sparrows in the wall, and mine eyes being open, the sparrows muted warm dung into mine eyes, and a whiteness came in mine eyes, and I went to the physicians, but they helped me not, moreover Achiacharus did nourish me, until I went into Elymais. And my wife Anna did take women's works to do. And when she had sent them home to the owners, they paid her wages, and gave her also besides a kid. And when it was in my house, and began to cry, I said unto her, From whence is this kid? is it not stolen? render it to the owners; for it is not lawful to eat any thing that is stolen. But she replied upon me, It was given for a gift more than the wages. Howbeit I did not believe her, but bade her render it to the owners, and I was abashed at her. But she replied upon me, Where are thine alms and thy righteous deeds? behold, thou and all thy works are known. Then I being grieved did weep, and in my sorrow prayed, saying, O Lord, thou art just, and all thy works and all thy ways are mercy and truth, and thou judgest truly and justly for ever. Remember me, and look on me, punish me not for my sins and ignorances, and the sins of my fathers, who have sinned before thee, For they obeyed not thy commandments, wherefore thou hast delivered us for a spoil, and unto captivity, and unto death, and for a proverb of reproach to all the nations among whom we are dispersed. And now thy judgments are many and true, deal with me according to my sins and my fathers', because we have not kept thy commandments, nor have walked in truth before thee. Now therefore deal with me as seemeth best unto thee, and command my spirit to be taken from me, that I may be dissolved, and become earth, for it is profitable for me to die rather than to live, because I have heard false reproaches, and have much sorrow, command therefore that I may now be delivered out of this distress, and go into the everlasting place, turn not thy face away from me. It came to pass the same day, that in Ecbatane a city of Media Sara the daughter of Raguel was also reproached by her father's maids; Because that she had been married to seven husbands, whom Asmodeus the evil spirit had killed, before they had lain with her. Dost thou not know, said they, that thou hast strangled thine husbands? thou hast had already seven husbands, nor wast thou named after any of them. Wherefore dost thou beat us for them? if they be dead, go thy ways after them, let us never see of thee either son or daughter. Whe she heard these things, she was very sorrowful, so that she thought to have strangled herself, and she said, I am the only daughter of my father, and if I do this, it shall be a reproach unto him, and I shall bring his old age with sorrow unto the grave. Then she prayed toward the window, and said, Blessed art thou, O Lord my God, and thine holy and glorious name is blessed and honourable for ever, let all thy works praise thee for ever. And now, O Lord, I set I mine eyes and my face toward thee, And say, Take me out of the earth, that I may hear no more the reproach. Thou knowest, Lord, that I am pure from all sin with man, And that I never polluted my name, nor the name of my father, in the land of my captivity, I am the only daughter of my father, nor hath he any child to be his heir, nor any near kinsman, nor any son of his alive, to whom I may keep myself for a wife, my seven husbands are already dead, and why should I live? but if it please not thee that I should die, command some regard to be had of me, and pity taken of me, that I hear no more reproach. So the prayers of them both were heard before the majesty of the great God. And Raphael was sent to heal them both, that is, to scale away the whiteness of Tobit is eyes, and to give Sara the daughter of Raguel for a wife to Tobias the son of Tobit, and to bind Asmodeus the evil spirit; because she belonged to Tobias by right of inheritance. The selfsame time came Tobit home, and entered into his house, and Sara the daughter of Raguel came down from her upper chamber. In that day Tobit remembered the money which he had committed to Gabael in Rages of Media, And said with himself, I have wished for death; wherefore do I not call for my son Tobias that I may signify to him of the money before I die? And when he had called him, he said, My son, when I am dead, bury me, and despise not thy mother, but honour her all the days of thy life, and do what shall please her, and grieve her not. Remember, my son, that she saw many dangers for thee, when thou wast in her womb, and when she is dead, bury her by me in one grave. My son, be mindful of the Lord our God all thy days, and let not thy will be set to sin, or to transgress his commandments, do uprightly all thy life long, and follow not the ways of unrighteousness. For if thou deal truly, thy doings shall prosperously succeed to thee, and to all them that live justly. Give alms of thy substance, and when thou givest alms, let not thine eye be envious, nor turn thy face from any poor, and the face of God shall not be turned away from thee. If thou hast abundance give alms accordingly, if thou have but a little, be not afraid to give according to that little, For thou layest up a good treasure for thyself against the day of necessity. Because that alms do deliver from death, and suffereth not to come into darkness. For alms is a good gift unto all that give it in the sight of the most High. Beware of all whoredom, my son, and chiefly take a wife of the seed of thy fathers, and take not a strange woman to wife, which is not of thy father's tribe, for we are the children of the prophets, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, remember, my son, that our fathers from the beginning, that they all married wives of their own kindred, and were blessed in their children, and their seed shall inherit the land. Now therefore, my son, love thy brethren, and despise not in thy heart thy brethren, the sons and daughters of thy people, in not taking a wife of them, for in pride is destruction and much trouble, and in lewdness is decay and great want, for lewdness is the mother of famine. Let not the wages of any man, which hath wrought for thee, tarry with thee, but give him it out of hand, for if thou serve God, he will also repay thee, be circumspect my son, in all things thou doest, and be wise in all thy conversation. Do that to no man which thou hatest, drink not wine to make thee drunken, nor let drunkenness go with thee in thy journey. Give of thy bread to the hungry, and of thy garments to them that are naked, and according to thine abundance give alms, and let not thine eye be envious, when thou givest alms. Pour out thy bread on the burial of the just, but give nothing to the wicked. Ask counsel of all that are wise, and despise not any counsel that is profitable. Bless the Lord thy God alway, and desire of him that thy ways may be directed, and that all thy paths and counsels may prosper, for every nation hath not counsel; but the Lord himself giveth all good things, and he humbleth whom he will, as he will; now therefore, my son, remember my commandments, nor let them be put out of thy mind. And now I signify this to they that I committed ten talents to Gabael the son of Gabrias at Rages in Media. And fear not, my son, that we are made poor, for thou hast much wealth, if thou fear God, and depart from all sin, and do what is pleasing in his sight.

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