The prayer of Tobit for the return to Jerusalem (Tob 13:14-14:1)

“Happy are those who love you!

Happy are those who rejoice in your prosperity!

Happy also are all who grieve with you because of your afflictions.

They will rejoice with you.

They will witness all your glory forever.

My soul blesses the Lord,

The great King!

Jerusalem will be built as his house for all ages

How happy I will be,

If a remnant of my descendents should survive,

They would see your glory,

They would acknowledge the King of heaven.

The gates of Jerusalem will be built with sapphires and emeralds.

All her walls will be built with precious stones.

The towers of Jerusalem will be built with gold.

The battlements will be built with pure gold.

The streets of Jerusalem will be paved with ruby.

The streets of Jerusalem will be paved with stones of Ophir.

The gates of Jerusalem will sing hymns of joy.

All her houses will cry ‘Hallelujah!’

Blessed be the God of Israel!

The blessed will bless your holy name forever and ever.’

This ended Tobit’s words of praise.”

The setting is the time before the destruction and rebuilding of Jerusalem. It is not just the Temple, but the whole town that will praise God. Everyone will be happy who love Jerusalem and want it to prosper. Those who have grieved with you will rejoice with its new glory. Tobit’s soul blessed the Lord, who is the great king. Jerusalem shall be his home for all ages to come. The remnant of his descendents will return and be happy in the glory of Jerusalem. They will acknowledge the king of heaven there. The renewed paved streets of Jerusalem will have sapphires, emeralds, Ophir, and all kinds of precious stones. The gates will have these stones plus golden towers. The gates and houses will cry out with Alleluia all over the place. The God of Israel is to be blessed. Thus, we come to the end of Tobit’s prayer. It is more like a lament, a longing for the return to Jerusalem. He, in fact, had lived in the north, not in Jerusalem, but he would journey every year to worship there. This canticle or hymn clearly believed in an idealized Jerusalem.

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