The appearance of Raphael (Tob 3:16-3:17)

“At that very moment, the prayers of both were heard in the glorious presence of God. Raphael was sent to heal both of them. He helped Tobit by removing the white films from his eyes, so that he might see God’s light with his eyes. He helped Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, by giving her in marriage to Tobias the son of Tobit. He set her free from the wicked demon Asmodeus. Tobias was entitled to have her before all others who had desired to marry her. At the same time that Tobit returned from the courtyard into his house, Sarah daughter of Raguel came down from her upper room.”

God heard both the prayers of Tobit and Sarah. What a coincidence, since they were both praying at the same time. Now Raphael enters without any introduction. He is not explicitly mentioned as an angel. He simply is a messenger from God, which is what an angel is. He will appear to heal both of them. The plot of the story is now revealed. He will cure Tobit of his blindness and get a husband from Sarah, who will be the son of Tobit, Tobias. Thus, the story of the grave digger and the woman haunted with an evil spirit will join together. Meanwhile, they both returned from their individual prayers.

The reproach about the seven husbands of Sarah (Tob 3:7-3:9)

“On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media, it also happened that Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, was reproached by her father’s maids. She had been married to seven husbands. The wicked demon Asmodeus had killed each of them before they had been with her as is customary for wives. The maid said to her.

‘You are the one who kills your husbands!

See! You have already been married to seven husbands.

You have not borne the name of a single one of them.

Why do you beat us?

Your husbands are dead.

Go with them!

May we never see a son or daughter of yours!’”

All at once there is a switch from the first person narrative of Tobit, to a third person story teller. This story switches to Ecbatana, the capital of Media, in northwest present day Iran. Ecbatana was the summer home of the Persian kings as we found out in Ezra, chapter 6. In this town of Ecbatana, there was a lady named Sarah, the daughter of a man named Raguel. This Raguel is a name close to that of the father-in-law of Moses. Sarah is, of course, the same name as Abraham’s wife. She was reproached by her father’s maids. They may have been servants or concubines of Raguel, but it is not clear. They are mad at Sarah because she apparently was beating them because all of her husbands were killed on their wedding night. Sarah had 7 marriages and all of 7 the men died on their wedding night. Notice the use of 7 by the wicked demon Asmodeus. Asmodeus was considered to be an evil king of demon spirits, one of the 7 princes of hell from the Greek or Persian times. He was the demon of lust who twisted sexual desires. He apparently killed all the 7 men who were to marry Sarah on their wedding night before the consummation of the wedding. This Asmodeus also appeared in the later 1st to 3rd century CE Testimony of Solomon. The maids said that Sarah was better off dead also. They never expected to see a son or daughter from her.