Revere the Lord all your days, my son, and refuse to sin or to transgress his commandments.   Tobit 4:5

Book of Tobit

Book of the Old Testament in those versions of the Bible following the Greek Septuagint (generally Roman Catholic and Orthodox versions). Among Protestants it is placed with the Apocrypha.

Tobit 2:7-10 Tobit becomes blind

Tobit 5:1-22 Tobias sets out on a journey accompanied by the angel Raphael

Tobit 6:1-9 Tobias catches a fish

Tobit 7:9-16 Tobias marries his cousin Sarah

Tobit 11 Tobias heals his father's blindness

The narrative is set in the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh sometime between the latter part of the 8th century bc, after the defeat of the kingdom of Israel by Assyria, and the destruction of Nineveh in 612 bc.

A type of wisdom literature, the book was probably written as late as the 2nd or even the 1st century bc in Palestine. The author is unknown. The language of the original was either Aramaic or Hebrew; the oldest surviving complete text is, however, in Greek. In 1955 fragments of the book in Aramaic and in Hebrew were recovered at Qumran.


Tobit was a pious Israelite of the tribe of Naphtali. The Assyrian king had forbidden the exiled Israelites from burying their dead. Yey Tobit 'feared God more than the king' and secretly interred the dead at night. When Tobit once again came home tired, he lay down to sleep in the shadow of a wall, and a swallow's droppings fell on his eyes. When he awoke, he found that he was blind. His relatives taunted him, because his many good deeds seemed to have been of no use.

Sorely afflicted, he asks God to let him die. On the very day of Tobit's prayer, Sarah, a young relative of Tobit living in the Median capital, Ecbatana, also prays for death. She has been married seven times, and every one of her husbands has been killed on their wedding night by the jealous demon Asmodeus. The prayers of both are heard, and the archangel Raphael is sent to help them.

At this point, Tobit decides to send his son Tobias to the Median city of Rages (now Shahr-e Rey, near Tehran, Iran) to recover money left there in trust with a friend. Raphael (disguised as Azarias, another of Tobit's relatives) appears, to accompany and guide Tobias. When the pair reach the Tigres River, Tobias was afraid of a large fish. He is advised by his heavenly guide to catch the fish and to keep its heart, liver, and gall to use as medicine. When they reach Ecbatana, the archangel persuades Tobias to marry Sarah. On the wedding night, Tobias, using the heart and liver of the fish as instructed by the archangel, routs Asmodeus.

With his wife Sarah and Raphael, Tobias returned to Nineveh, where his parents were eagerly waiting for him. In accordance with the advice given to him by the archangel, Tobias uses the gall of the fish to restore his father's sight. The father and son wanted to give the traveller, who they still took for a young man, a generous reward. But Raphael then reveals his identity and the two men knelt in awe. Before the angel departs, he praises the deeds of Tobit. Immediately afterward, inspired by the archangel's final exhortation, Tobit composes and recites a hymn of praise to God.

Tobit lives 100 years more in great happiness and, before dying, predicts the destruction of Nineveh. Tobias departs with Sarah for Ecbatana, where they eventually hear of and rejoice over the fall of Nineveh before Tobias dies at the age of 127.

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