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.

The prayer of Tobit for the exiles (Tob 13:3-13:8)

Acknowledge him before the nations,

O children of Israel.

He has scattered you among them.

He has shown you his greatness even there.

Exalt him in the presence of every living being.

Because he is our Lord

Because he is our God.

Because he is our Father.

Because he is God forever.

He will afflict you for our iniquities.

He will again show mercy on all of you.

He will gather us from all the nations,

Among whom you have been scattered.

If you turn to him with all your heart and with all your soul,

To do what is true before him,

Then he will turn to you.

He will no longer hide his face from you.

Now see what he has done for you.

Acknowledge him at the top of your voice.

Bless the Lord of righteousness.

Exalt the King of the ages.

In the land of my exile,

I acknowledge him.

Show his power and majesty to a nation of sinners.

Turn back, you sinners,

Do what is right before him.

Perhaps he may look with favor upon you.

He may show you mercy.

As for me,

I exalt my God.

My soul rejoices in the King of heaven.

Let all people speak of his majesty.

Acknowledge him in Jerusalem.”

The prayer of Tobit continues as he recalls the plight of the exiles. The children of Israel have been scattered among the nations. However, they should show his greatness and presence in every living being. Here it is not only Jerusalem where he is present but among all living beings. God is lord and father forever. He will both afflict you and show you mercy. He will gather you from the nations where he has scattered you. If you turn to God with your heart and soul, he will turn his face to you. Acknowledge him at the top of your lungs. Bless and acknowledge the king of ages even in exile. Tobit acknowledged him even in exile. We were sinners, but now we must turn to righteousness. He will look with favor on us as he shows us his mercy. Tobit will continue to exalt God and rejoice in the King of heaven. Some day we will be able to do this in Jerusalem.