The Book of Tobit

The Book of Tobit, a 3rd to early 2nd century BCE Jewish work, describes how God is testing faithfulness, responds to prayers, and safeguards the covenant community (i.e. the Israelites). The story is told through two Jewish families: that of blind Tobit in Nineveh and of the abandoned Sarah in Ecbatana. ( Tobit’s son Tobias travels to Rages, Media, to retrieve ten silver talent that Tobit had left. Raphael guides him and helps him arrive in Ecbatana. Sarah is his first lover. Asmodeus is a demon who has fallen for Sarah and killed her intended bridesmaids. marry. Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah to get married and then they return to Nineveh and there Tobit is healed from his blindness.

It is found in the Orthodox and Catholic canons However, it is not found in the Jewish. The Protestant tradition places it within the Apocrypha. Anabaptists Lutherans Anglicans and Methodists acknowledge it as a part of the Bible, and useful for edification purposes, liturgyy and other non-canonical. The work is fiction with historical references, which majority of scholars believe in.

Summary and structure

The book is split into fourteen chapters. There are three main narrative sections. Each has a an introduction and an epilogue.

  • Prologue (1:1-2)
  • Situation in Nineveh and Ecbatana (1.3-3.17)
  • Tobias’s Adventure (4:1-12.22)
  • Tobit’s praise song to death (13.1-14.2)
  • Epilogue (14:3-15)
  • (Summarised by Benedikt Olzen “Tobit and Judith”).

The prologue informs readers that this is the story of Tobit of the Naphtali tribe, exiled from Tishbe in Galilee to Nineveh by the Assyrians. He remained loyal to the rules of Moses and offered sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem during the time before the Assyrian conquer. The story highlights his marriage to Anna, and they have one son who is named Tobias.

Tobit A good man is a good man who burys dead Jews. But at night, as he is sleeping at night, he is blinded an unsavory bird that feces inside his eyes. He becomes dependent on his wife, but accuses her of stealing and prays for death. In the meantime, his cousin Sarah who lives in a far-off Ecbatana, also prays for death, for the demon Asmodeus has killed her suitors at their weddings and is accused of being the one to cause the deaths of her suitors.

God hears their prayers and the angel Raphael is sent to help them. Tobias is sent to retrieve money from a relative, and Raphael disguised as a human will accompany him. They catch a fish in Tigris. Raphael informs Tobias that the burnt liver and liver can repel demons and the gall is able to cure blindness. Raphael believes that the demon will be eliminated once they arrive at Ecbatana. Sarah is also there.

Tobias and Sarah get married Sarah and Tobias get married. Tobias develops wealth. They return to Nineveh (Assyria) which is where Tobit, Anna, and their children live. Tobit’s blindness is cured, and Raphael departs , admonishing Tobit and Tobias to thank God and to declare his acts to the populace (the Jews), to pray and fast, and to offer alms. Tobit praises God for being adamant about his people’s exile, but promises to show mercy to them and build the Temple if their hearts turn to him.

In the conclusion Tobit tells Tobias that Nineveh will be destroyed to show wickedness; likewise Israel will be left desolate and the Temple will be destroyed, but Israel and the Temple will be rebuilt; consequently Tobias should depart from Nineveh as well as his children should live in uprightness.


Tobit is considered to be a fiction work with some historical references. It blends prayers, moral exhortation, humor, and adventure. It also includes elements derived from folklore, wisdom tale, travel story romantic comedy, and. It gave advice to diaspora people, also known as Jews living in exile, on how to safeguard their Jewish identity.

Latin Rite readings are based on the book. The book is read at weddings, in a variety of rites, because it lauds the purity of marriage. The book is often cited due to its teachings on angelic intercessions and filial penitence, almsgiving, tithing and reverence for the dead. Chapter 5 in 1 Meqabyan also mentions Tobit, which is considered to be canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Composition and manuscripts

Leaf extracted from a vellum manuscript in the 1240s.

The tale in the Book of Tobit is set in the 8th century BC The book itself is written between 175 and 225 BC. There isn’t a consensus regarding the site of its creation (almost all regions in the ancient world seem to be candidates”); a Mesopotamian origin is logical considering that the story is set in Assyria, Persia, and includes the Persian demon “aeshma Daeva” and the name of which is “Asmodeus”. But the text is filled with significant errors in geography (such as the distance between Ecbatana and Rhages and their topography) and arguments that argue for or against Judean or Egyptian composition.

Tobit is available in two Greek versions: Sinaiticus (longer) and Alexandrinus (shorter). Aramaic and Hebrew fragments of Tobit (four Aramaic, one Hebrew – it is not clear which was the original language) found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran tend to align more closely with the longer or Sinaiticus version, which has formed the basis of most English translations in recent times.

Tobit, Judith, and Esther are put in the Vulgate following the books of the past (after Nehemiah). Some manuscripts from the Greek version have them positioned after the wisdom writings.

Canonical status

The deuterocanon is a name that refers to the Jewish books found in Septuagint but not in the Masoretic canon. Protestants adhere to the Masoretic canon. Tobit is therefore not included in their standard canon. However they do acknowledge it in the deuterocanonical book class, known as the Apocrypha.

The Council of Rome (A.D.382), the Council of Hippo, (A.D. 393) and (A.D. 409) and (A.D. 409), respectively along with the Council of Carthage (397), (A.D. 419) and the Council of Florence (419) are all listed in the Book of Tobit (canonical) and are part of both the Catholic Churches as well as Eastern Orthodox Churches. Catholics refer to it as deuterocanonical.

Augustine (c. A.D. 397) and Pope Innocent I(A.D. 405) both confirmed Tobit’s inclusion within the Old Testament Canon. Athanasius (A.D. 367) declared that Tobit was part of the Canon. But Tobit was not part of the Canon.

Rufinus in the year c. A.D. 403, said that Tobit and the other deuterocanonical texts are not Canonical books , but Ecclesiastical.

According to Protestant custom according to Protestant tradition, the Tobit book Tobit is placed in an intertestamental region known as Apocrypha. Anabaptism includes the book Of Tobit in a section called Apocrypha. This is the place where the marriage sermons of Amish Amish couples is built on the Tobit book. Tobit. Tobit is part of the Luther Bible’s “Apocrypha,” which means books that aren’t considered as sacred Scriptures but are still beneficially used for reading. [5Article VI of The Thirty-Nine Articles of Church of England describes it as an item belonging to the “Apocrypha”. The Sunday Service of the Methodists, the first Methodist liturgical publication, employs verses from Tobit in its Eucharistic ceremony. The lectionaries of the Lutheran and Anglican Churches include scripture readings from the Apocrypha, as well as alternate Old Testament readings. The Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches have Holy Matrimony with a Scripture Reading from the Book of Tobit.

Tobit provides some fascinating evidence of the early development of the Jewish canon. It is a reference to two rather than three divisions: the Law of Moses (i.e. The Torah and the Prophets. The text is not included in the Hebrew Bible for unknown reasons. Possible explanations are its date of birth (now considered highly unlikely), Samaritan origin or an infraction to the law of ritual by depicting the marriage contract between Tobias, his bride, in the form of her father rather than her husband. However, it is located in Greek Jewish writings (the Septuagint), from which it was accepted into the Christian canon at the end of the 4th century.


Tobit’s position in the Christian canon has allowed it to influence art, culture and theology across Europe. It was often considered by the early Church fathers. The motif of Tobias (a symbol of Christ) was extremely popular in both art as well as theology. The work of Rembrandt is notable because, despite being a member of the Dutch Reformed Church he was responsible for a variety of paintings and drawings that illustrate episodes from the book.