The apostasy in Naphtali (Tob 1:3-1:5)

“I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life. I performed many acts of charity to my kindred and my people who had gone with me in exile to Nineveh in the land of the Assyrians. When I was in my own country, in the land of Israel, while I was still a young man, the whole tribe of my ancestor Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. This city had been chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. All the tribes of Israel should sacrifice there. The temple was the dwelling of God that had been consecrated and established for all generations forever. All my kindred and our ancestral house of Naphtali sacrificed to the calf that King Jeroboam of Israel had erected in Dan and on the mountains of Galilee.”

After the preceding 3rd person introduction of Tobit, this now is a 1st person singular account of what happened. Tobit explained that he was a man of truth and righteousness. He was kind to his associates who were exiled in Nineveh, which was the northern capital of Assyria, east of the Tigris River. When Tobit was in his own country as a young man, the tribe of Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. Naphtali was, in fact, 1 of the sons of Jacob, 1 or the 12 tribes of Israel. Asher, Naphtali, and Dan were the northern most tribes of Israel. They were a long way from Jerusalem. As explained in 1 Kings, chapters 12 and 13, King Jeroboam (931-910 BCE), the first king of Israel, set up a golden calf in the territory of Dan and Bethel so that people could worship there instead of Jerusalem. Tobit on the other hand worshiped in Jerusalem.

 

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