Tobit wants Tobias to leave Nineveh (Tob 14:8-14:11)

“Now, my children,

I command you.

Serve God faithfully!

Do what is pleasing in his sight!

Your children are also commanded to do what is right.

Give alms!

Be mindful of God!

Bless his name at all times!

Love God with all sincerity and with all their strength!

So now, my son, leave Nineveh!  

Do not remain here!

On whatever day you bury your mother beside me,

Do not stay overnight within the confines of the city.

I see that there is much wickedness within it.

The people are without shame.

See, my son, what Nadab did to Ahikar who had reared him.

Was he not, while still alive, brought down into the earth?

God repaid him to his face for this shameful treatment.

Ahikar came out into the light,

But Nadab went into the eternal darkness,

Because he tried to kill Ahikar.

Because he gave alms,

Ahikar escaped the fatal trap that Nadab had set for him.

Nadab fell into it himself.

He was destroyed.

Now, my children see what almsgiving accomplishes.

You can see what injustice does.

It brings death!

But now my breath fails me.

Then they laid him on his bed and he died.

He received an honorable funeral.”

The final words of Tobit to his son Tobias were about obeying God and his commandments. He wanted Tobias and his sons to serve God faithfully, to do what God wants. They were to bless his name with sincerity and strength. Due to the bad situation in Nineveh, he wanted them to leave there as soon as they buried his wife, Anna, Tobias’ mother. In fact, he told them not to stay overnight in Nineveh after the burial. He cited as an example his nephew Ahikar, who was a government official. His nephew Nadab tried to kill him, but instead fell into the trap and killed himself. This was an example of the children of Nineveh who were behaving badly. Once again, on his deathbed, Tobit praised the value of almsgiving, citing that as why Ahikar was saved.

The blinding of Tobit (Tob 2:9-2:10)

“That same night I washed myself. I went into my courtyard. I slept by the wall of the courtyard. My face was uncovered because of the heat. I did not know that there were sparrows on the wall. Their fresh droppings fell into my eyes. The droppings produced white films. I went to physicians to be healed. However, the more they treated me with ointments the more my vision was obscured by the white films, until I became completely blind. All my kindred were sorry for me. Ahikar took care of me for two years before he went to Elymais.”

Washing was important for ritual purity after touching dead bodies. After Tobit washed himself, he lay out in the courtyard because it was hot. He slept by the wall of the courtyard. Somehow he left his eyes open so that sparrow droppings fell into his eyes, the way that sparrow droppings fall on modern parked cars. He had some kind of white film on his eyes that led to blindness. Although he went to physicians, they only made the situation worse. This is the first biblical mention of an attempt at a cure that does not have a religious base. Everyone felt sorry for him. However, it was nephew, the well connected Ahikar who took care of him. There is no mention of his wife or son helping him. After 2 years, Ahikar had an assignment to go to Elymais, a rich city in Persia, south of Media and north of Susiana.

The death of King Sennacherib (Tob 1:21-1:22)

“But not forty days passed before two of King Sennacherib’s sons killed him. They fled to the mountains of Ararat. Then his son King Esarhaddon reigned in his place. He appointed Ahikar, the son of my brother Hanael, over all the accounts of his kingdom. He had authority over the entire administration. Ahikar interceded for me. Then I returned to Nineveh. Now Ahikar was chief cupbearer, the keeper of the signet. He was in charge of the administration of the accounts under King Sennacherib of Assyria. King Esarhaddon reappointed him. He was my nephew and so a close relative.”

Now we have the revolt of the sons of King Sennacherib as was mentioned in 2 Kings, chapter 19. We have a new player Ahikar, or as he is sometimes called Achiacharus. He is the nephew of Tobit, the son of Tobit’s brother Hanael, who was not mentioned until here. Somehow Ahikar was in charge of the accounts for the deceased King Sennacherib of Assyria. It is not clear how he got that job. With the new King Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE), after the revolution, he was put in charge of the entire administration in Assyria. Now this important nephew pleaded with the king to help Tobit.