Tobit and Anna are worried about their son (Tob 10:1-10:7)

“Now, day by day, Tobit kept counting how many days Tobias would need for going and returning. When the days had expired and his son did not appear, he said.

‘Is it possible that he has been detained?

Or is it possible that Gabael has died?

Perhaps there is no one to give him the money?’

He began to worry. His wife Anna said.

‘My child has perished.

He is no longer among the living.’

She began to weep and mourn for her son.

‘Woe to me!

My child,

The light of my eyes,

That I let you make the journey!’

But Tobit kept saying to her.

‘Be quiet and stop worrying, my dear.

He is all right.

Probably something unexpected has happened to him.

The man who went with him is trustworthy.

He is one of our own kin.

Do not grieve for him, my dear, he will soon be here.’

She answered him.

‘Be quiet yourself!

Stop trying to deceive me.

My child has perished.’

She would rush out every day. She would watch the road her son had taken. She would heed no one. When the sun had set, she would go in and mourn and weep all night long, getting no sleep at all.”

Tobit and his wife Anna were getting anxious about their son Tobias. Tobit was counting the days and how long it would take to go to Rages and return. Now by his calculations, the time for his return had passed. He thought that it was possible that he had been detained. Maybe Gabael had died and there was no one who knew about the money. He was worried, but Anna his wife was grief stricken. She kept weeping and mourning. She believed that Tobias was dead. She was mad that he even let him go on this journey. Tobit, although worried, tried to calm her down. He said that maybe something unexpected had happened. He certainly was with a trustworthy person, who was related to them. He turned optimistic and said that Tobias would soon be home. She got upset at Tobit and told him to be quiet. She felt that he was deceiving her and that Tobias was already dead. She would sit outside every day and look at the road that Tobias had taken. Then at night, she would go inside, weep, and mourn all night long. She was not getting any sleep.

 

The blessing of Gabael (Tob 9:6-9:6)

“Good and noble son of a father good and noble,

Upright and generous!

May the Lord grant the blessings of heaven to you!

May the Lord grant the blessings of heaven to your wife!

And to your wife’s father and mother!

Blessed be God!

I see in Tobias the very image of my cousin Tobit.”

This is the prayer or blessing of Gabael for Tobias. He called him the good and noble son of a good and noble father. They were both upright and generous. He wanted the Lord to grant the blessings of heaven to Tobias, his wife, and her parents. He blest God. Then he said that Tobias looked just like his father, Tobit, his cousin.


The preparations for the wedding feast (Tob 8:18-8:21)

“Then Raguel ordered his servants to fill in the grave before daybreak. After this, he asked his wife to bake many loaves of bread. He went out to the herd. He brought in two steers and four rams. He ordered them to be slaughtered. So they began to make preparations. Then he called for Tobias. He swore an oath to him in these words. ‘You shall not leave here for fourteen days, but shall stay here eating and drinking with me. You shall cheer up my daughter, who has been depressed. Take at once half of what I own. Return in safety to your father. The other half will be yours when my wife and I die. Take courage, my child. I am your father and Edna is your mother. We belong to you as well as your wife, now and forever. Take courage, my child.’”

Raguel had his servants fill up the grave that he had dug before morning. He did not know that Tobias had chased away the evil spirit. He asked his wife to bake many loaves of bread. He took 2 steers and 4 rams from his herd and had them slaughtered. The he asked Tobias to take an oath. Tobias had to stay for a 14 day wedding festival, where he would eat and drink. This was twice as long as the usual 7 day wedding festival. This is somewhat reminiscent of the marriage of Rebecca and Isaac in Genesis, chapter 24. Tobias was to cheer up his new wife Sarah because she was depressed. In fact, Raguel was giving half his possessions to Tobias now and he would inherit the rest at the death of himself and his wife Edna. He asked him to take courage and return safely to his father.

The defeat of the demon (Tob 8:1-8:3)

“When they had finished eating and drinking, they wanted to retire. They took the young man and brought him into the bedroom. Then Tobias remembered the words of Raphael. He took the fish liver and heart out of the bag where he had put them. He put them on the embers of the incense. The odor of the fish was so repelling to the demon that he fled to the remotest parts of Egypt. However, Raphael followed him and at once bound him there hand and foot.”

After they had finished eating and drinking, they led Tobias to the bedroom. However, he remembered what Raphael had told him about the fish. He took out the fish liver and heart that he had been carrying. He then put them on the incense embers to create an odor that made the demon flee to Egypt. There in Egypt, the angel Raphael tied up his hands and feet. There is a story for you. The big brave evil demon spirit was afraid of a fish smell. He fled to Egypt where Tobias’s guardian angel Raphael caught the evil spirit and then tied up his hands and feet. Egypt was considered the traditional place of magic and witchcraft so it was a good place for evil spirits to go. However, since when did evil spirits have hands and feet?

The marriage contract (Tob 7:11-7:13)

“However, Tobias said.

‘I will neither eat nor drink anything

Until you settle the things that pertain to me.’

Raguel said.

‘I will do so.

She is given to you

In accordance with the decree in the Book of Moses.

It has been decreed from heaven that she be given to you.

Take your kinswoman.

From now on you are her brother.

She is your sister.

She is given to you from today and forever.

May the Lord of heaven, my child,

Guide and prosper you both this night.

May he grant you mercy and peace.’

Then Raguel summoned his daughter Sarah. When she came to him he took her by the hand and gave her to Tobias, saying.

‘Take her to be your wife in accordance with the law

And the decree written in the Book of Moses.

Take her!

Bring her safely to your father!

May the God of heaven make your journey

Prosperous with his peace.’

Then he called her mother. He told her to bring writing material. He wrote out a copy of the marriage contract. This said that he gave her to him as wife according to the decree of the Law of Moses.”

Tobias said that he was not going to eat or drink anything until this matter was settled. The marriage contract is between Tobias and Raguel, and not between Sarah and Tobias. Raguel makes all the arrangements. Raguel agreed to give his daughter to Tobias according to the Book of Moses. It is unclear what Book of Moses this is referring to. The only possible reference might be the marriage of Isaac in Genesis, chapter 24. After all the arrangements were made, finally the daughter Sarah appeared. Then there was the famous giving of the hand of the daughter from the father to the groom, the man. In this case, Sarah had no consent. She simply did what her father wanted her to do. In fact, the mother was not even present. She was called in to get some writing materials. Then Raguel wrote out the marriage contract according to the Law of Moses. This clearly was a legal written contract with nothing to do with romantic love. Tobias was to bring his new bride home to his father.

The question of marriage (Tob 7:9-7:11)

“When they had bathed and washed themselves, they reclined to dine with large servings of food before them. Then Tobias said to Raphael.

‘Brother Azariah,

Ask Raguel to give me my kinswoman Sarah.’

However, Raguel overhead it. He said to the lad.

‘Eat and drink!

Be merry tonight!

No one except you, brother,

Has the right to marry my daughter Sarah.

Likewise, I am not at liberty to give her to any other man than you Because you are my nearest relative.

But let me explain to you the true situation more fully, my child.

I have given her to seven of our kinsmen.

They all died on the night when they went in to her.

But now, my child, eat and drink.

The Lord shall act on behalf of you both.’”

Clearly the father had complete control of the marriage. Tobias wanted Raphael to make the proposal to Raguel, the father of Sarah. However, Raguel overheard them talking. He told them to eat, drink, and be merry. There was no problem since Tobit was the only one available to marry her. Raguel then recounted that all 7 kinsmen before him had all died on the wedding night. That is why they should enjoy tonight. Everything will be all right in time.

 

The meeting with Raguel (Tob 7:1-7:8)

“When they entered Ecbatana, Tobias said to Raphael.

‘Brother Azariah! Take me straight to our brother Raguel.’

So he took him to the house of Raguel. There, they found him sitting beside the courtyard door. They greeted him first.   He replied.

‘Joyous greetings, brothers! Welcome and good health!’

Then he brought them into the house. Raguel said to his wife Edna.

‘How much the young man resembles my kinsman Tobit!’

Then Edna questioned them.

‘Where are you from, brothers?’

They answered.

‘We belong to the descendents of Naphtali, who are exiles in Nineveh.’ She said to them.

‘Do you know our kinsman Tobit?’

They replied.

‘Yes, we know him!’

Then she asked them.

‘Is he in good health?’

They replied.

‘He is alive and in good health.’

Tobias added.

‘He is my father.’

At that Raguel jumped up and kissed him and wept. He also spoke to them as follows.

‘Blessings on you, my child, son of a good and noble father!

O most miserable of calamities

That such an upright and beneficent man has become blind!’

He then embraced his kinsman Tobias and wept. His wife Edna also wept for him. Their daughter Sarah likewise wept. Then Raguel slaughtered ram from the flock. He received them warmly.”

When they reached Ecbatana, Tobias wanted to go visit Raguel right away. So Raphael, called Azariah, took him to that house, where Raguel was sitting outside at the courtyard door. They greeted each other. Raguel noticed that Tobias resembled Tobit. His wife Edna questioned who they were and where they were from. They said that they were from Naphtali, but they were exiles in Nineveh. Edna wanted to know if they knew Tobit. Then Tobias said that he was alive and in good health and was his father. With that Raguel became all excited. He jumped up and kissed them and began to weep. He thought it was terrible that such a good man as Tobit was blind. How he knew that Tobit was blind is not clear, since the text does explicitly say that they told him about this blindness. Then Raguel, his wife Edna, and daughter Sarah all wept. Raguel slaughtered a ram and received them warmly. All seems to be going well.

What to do with the fish gall, heart, and liver (Tob 6:6-6:9)

“The two continued on their way together until they were near Media. Then the young man questioned the angel.

‘Brother Azariah,

What medicinal value is there in the fish’s heart, liver and gall?’

He replied.

‘As for the fish’s heart and liver,

You must burn them to make smoke

In the presence of a man or woman afflicted by a demon or evil spirit. Every affliction will flee away

And never remain with that person any longer.

As for the gall,

Anoint a person’s eyes where white films have appeared on them. Blow upon them,

Upon the white films,

And the eyes will be healed.’”

As they approached Media, Tobias asked the angel what kind of medicinal value was the fish’s heart, liver, and gall. He always called him Azariah. The angel explained that the heart and liver had to be burned to make smoke in the presence of anyone who was afflicted with an evil spirit or demon. Done properly, all the evil spirit afflictions will flee and never return. The fish gall, on the other hand, should be put on the eyes of a man who has white film on his eyes. This fish gall anointing would heal the eyes after you blow on it. Thus the fish parts are a key to this story as it unfolds.

The first night they encounter the fish in the Tigris River (Tob 6:1-6:6)

“The young man went out and angel went with him. The dog came out with him and went along with them. They both journeyed along. When the first night overtook them they camped by the Tigris River. Then the young man went down to wash his feet in the Tigris River. Suddenly, a large fish leaped up from the water. The fish tried to swallow the young man’s foot. He cried out. But the angel said to the young man.

‘Catch hold of the fish!

Hang on to him!’

So the young man grasped the fish. He drew it up on the land. Then the angel said to him.

‘Cut open the fish!

Take out its gall, heart and liver!

Keep them with you, but throw away the intestines!

Its gall, heart, and liver are useful as medicine.’  

So after cutting open the fish, the young man gathered together the gall, heart, and liver. Then he roasted and ate some of the fish. They kept some to be salted.”

Now the adventure begins. Tobias, the angel, and his dog went on their way. We seem to have a domesticated dog. There is no mention of a donkey or other animal for transportation or hauling stuff. The first night they camped at the Tigris River, not very far from Nineveh. However, it is west of Nineveh, and they would have wanted to go east. So this was not a direct route. As Tobias went down to the Tigris River to wash his feet, a large fish tried to bite the foot of Tobias. He cried out. The angel told him to grab the fish, which he did. He had the fish on land, when the angel told him to cut it open. He then took out the gall, the heart, and the liver, as medicine, as the angel had requested. Then they roasted it and ate some of the fish. They salted the rest of the fish to eat later. This was a very good old fishing story.

The sad farewell (Tob 5:18-5:21)

“But his mother, began to weep. She said to Tobit.

‘Why is it that you have sent my child away?

Is he not the staff of our hand as he goes in and out before us?

Do not heap money upon money.

Let it be a ransom for our child.

The life that is given to us by the Lord is enough for us.’

Tobit said to her.

‘Do not worry.

Our child will leave in good health.

He will return to us in good health, safe and sound.

Say no more!

Do not fear for them, my sister.

A good angel will accompany him.

His journey will be successful.

He will come back in good health.’

She stopped weeping.”

Anna, the mother of Tobias, was crying. She wanted to know why he was sending her child away. He was so helpful around the house. Why was he seeking more money, when they were getting by. It was like he was ransoming his son. The Lord had provided for them. Tobit replied that she should not be afraid. He was leaving in good health and would return in good health. He was going to be protected by an angel. With that, she stopped crying. This was like sending your child off to college. You never know what is going to happen.