Monday, January 25, 2010


11.3 Tobit


  1. A. The historical event referred to in 1:18 is the invasion of Sennacherib against all the fortified cities of Judah in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, around 701 BC.
    B. The story is found in 2 Kings Chapters 18 and 19. The invasion of Sennacherib is chapter 18:13-37. The punishment of Sennacherib is recounted in Chapter 19:20-37. In verses 35-36 the reason for his return to Nineveh is explained: "That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they all were, all the corpses of the dead. So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, and went back home to Nineveh."

  2. A."Honor your mother, and do not abandon her as long as she lives. Do whatever pleases her and do not grieve her spirit in any way." (4:3) Tobit here reminds his son of the obligations he has to his mother, and to his family. I see this connected with verse 5 in which Tobit tells his son to "suppress every desire to break his (the Lord's) commandments".


    B. Encouraging fidelity and responsibility to one's own parents builds the strength and character of the children. If Tobiah succeeds in not grieving his mother he will probably be upholding the commands of the Lord. Even weak willed children can use their parent's values and standards to strengthen themselves when they are under tremendous pressure to conform to immoral behavior. Especially today, when our children are so often tempted by peer pressure to give into immoral and dangerous behaviors, having a deep respect for the wishes of parents can help bolster the weak willed or give direction to those who are despondent! We see that out of consideration for her father Sarah turns away from suicide, though she feels tremendous, unbearable pain, shame and disgrace. This caused her to put herself more deeply and trustingly into the hands of the Lord (3:10-11), preparing the way for God to enter her life more miraculously! Both Sarah and Tobiah hold the needs of someone other than themselves as more important; giving them keener insight and there by preserving them from grave mistakes and helping build strong virtues of generosity, charity, and trust in God. They are able to see and hear angels. This type of unselfishness and consideration builds trust and strong families and brings God's presence more powerfully and beautifully into the lives of those who follow this command.

    A."Therefore, my son, love your kinsmen. Do not be so proudhearted toward your kinsmen……….For in such arrogance there is ruin and great disorder. Likewise in worthlessness there is decay and dire poverty, for worthlessness is the mother of famine."(4:13)
    B. Once again, fidelity to the family is linked to prosperity and order! Though this passage talked of choosing a wife from the family, it is quite relevant to our time today. Maybe even substituting choosing faith and values from within the family, instead of choosing a wife, can help illuminate it even more! I am not saying that children should never question their faith or values, they should for they need to make their faith and values their own and not just their parents. But, our culture seems to value the rebel who chooses to reject tradition for no other reason than they want to do there own thing, or because their parent's didn't always live out their values or faith perfectly. In the wake of the sexual revolution; the choosing sexual license over sexual morality as a way of rejecting the puritanical mistakes of our past, attitudes towards sexuality have coarsened to an alarming degree. This has done little except create ruin and great disorder of families, which in turn decays society and leads to dire poverty: financial, moral and spiritual. It has isolated fathers from their children and left mothers at the mercy of society, which is a fickle protector. It has distracted us from building on the foundation of morality an ethic that truly elevates human sexuality to where God intended, always respecting and protecting human dignity as well! I know that when I was growing up it seemed to me that if you never moved beyond your parent's rules or faith or values you weren't mature. It certainly seemed a much easier way to "freedom" and "adulthood". It is also a much easier way to all the problems described by Tobit. An honest look back at my own early adulthood bears it out to be true. Only a long and painful journey "backwards ", to the foundation I tossed out, has helped preserve order and restore dignity.
    A. "Keep a close watch on yourself, my son, in everything you do, and discipline yourself in all your conduct. Do to no one what you yourself dislike." (4:14-15)
    B. Of course I immediately think of "do unto others….." and I also think that, I should always be aware of how I see and respond to others. Am I easily offended, defensive or disinterested in those around me? Do I discipline myself to be concerned with strengthening those who are weak around me, to notice the unnoticed and to see when a kind word or action is needed? Concerning ourselves with these things can help build trust and confidence in others, particularly in the members of our family. All will experience trials and stress, but a family (community, culture…..) that has trust and confidence in each other can endure with virtue and dignity much better than one where everyone is concerned only with him or herself! The passage immediately before "keep a close watch on yourself" speaks of paying the wages of any man who works for you immediately. Keep on top of what others around you need you to do. Again, this builds trust and confidence, loyalty and fidelity in those around you!

  3. A. Each prayer begins with praising God: "You are righteous, O Lord…."(3:2), "Blessed are you O Lord…." (3:11) "Blessed are you, O God of our fathers: praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever." (8:5)
    B. Each of these prayers helps us to understand our place in our relationship with God. God is just and true and deals with us righteously: "Yes, your judgments are many and true in dealing with me as my sins and those of my father's deserve."(3:5) He is trustworthy and we may bring our needs and desires to Him: "And now O Lord, to you I turn my face and raise my eyes." (3:12). God knows us: "You know, O Master, that I am innocent of any impure act with a man, and that I have never defiled my own name of my father's name in the land of exile."(3:14-15) God is in control: "Blessed are you who have made me glad; what I feared did not happen. Rather you have dealt with us according to your great mercy."(8:16)
  4. Angel's are God's messengers: (3:16-17, 12:18)) they are supernatural: (3:16-17; 12:1-21) they intercede on our behalf: (12:12; 15) they guide. Raphael is one of the seven who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord, (12:15), they are spiritual: "Even though you watched me eat and drink, I did not really do so; what you were seeing was a vision. (12:19)

  5. In Luke's gospel the Angel Gabriel is sent to Zachariah (1:19) and Mary (1:26). He, like Raphael says that he "stands before God" (1:19). When Raphael identifies himself as an angel to Tobit and Tobiah in chapter 18 of Tobit he tells them to "fear not!" Gabriel also tells Zachariah and Mary to "do not be afraid"(1:13 and 1:30). Raphael is a spirit, not eating or drinking and chasing and binding the demon, Gabriel is also a supernatural spirit, appearing out of nowhere (1:11) and commanding that Zachariah will be speechless (1:20).

  6. Tobit 13:9-10 "O Jerusalem, holy city, he scourged you for the works of your hands, but will again pity the righteous Praise the Lord for his goodness and bless the King of the ages, so that his tent may be rebuilt in you with joy." Brings to mind Rev 21:2-4,"I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them….He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away." Both passages show that even though there will be trails, God will renew, comfort and dwell with those in the holy city.

    Tobit 13:16-18, "Jerusalem shall be rebuilt as his home forever……..The gates of Jerusalem shall be built with gold, and their battlements with pure gold. The streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with rubies and stones of Ophir; the gates of Jerusalem shall sing hymns of gladness, and all her houses shall cry out, "Alleluiah!" Is similar to Rev. 21:10-21, "He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as it's foundation on which were inscribed the twelve apostles of the Lamb…….The wall was constructed of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone; the first course of stones was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian,…….the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass." Both passages describe Jerusalem as a resplendent city of joy and singling and unparalleled beauty!