The Book of Tobit is a 3rd century or early 2nd century BCE Jewish work that describes how God tests the faithful, responds to prayers, and safeguards the covenant community (i.e., the Israelites). The story is told through two Jewish families, the one of the blind Tobit in Nineveh as well as the abandoned Sarah in Ecbatana. ( Tobit’s son Tobias is taken by Raphael to retrieve the 10 silver talents Tobit left behind in Rages in Rages, a town in Media. He is sent to Ecbatana where Tobias is introduced to Sarah. Asmodeus is a demon that has fallen in love with Sarah and killed everyone she wanted to marry. Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah to get married and the couple return to Nineveh and there Tobit is healed of his blindness.

The text is part of the Catholic and Orthodox canons, however it is not included in the Jewish Canons. The Protestant tradition has it included within the Apocrypha and Anabaptists, Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists acknowledge it as a part of the Bible and beneficial for purposes of edification and liturgy. However, it is not canonical terms of. Most scholars consider it to be a fictional piece, with certain historical sources.

Structure and summary

The book has 14 chapters. the book, and they make up three major narrative sections. They are framed by the epilogue or prologue.

  • Prologue (1:1-2)
  • Situation in Nineveh and Ecbatana (1.3-3.17)
  • Tobias’s trip (4:1-12:22)
  • Tobit’s praise song to death (13.1-14.2)
  • Epilogue (14:3-15)
  • (Resumed from Benedikt Otzen “Tobit and Judith”)

The prologue tells the reader that this is the tale of Tobit of Naphtali’s tribe who was who was exiled from Tishbe in Galilee to Nineveh by the Assyrians. He was a devoted follower of the law of Moses and made offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem prior to the Assyrian defeat. He got married Anna and had a son named Tobias.

Tobit A good man tobit, a decent man, burys dead Jews. However, at night, as Tobit is asleep, he becomes blinded by an evil bird that defecates within his eyes. He becomes dependent on his wife, but accuses her of stealing and prays for death. His cousin Sarah who lives in distant Ecbatana, prays for his death as Asmodeus killed her lovers on their wedding ceremony. They also accuse her of causing their deaths.

God listens to their prayers and Raphael, an archangel, is sent to aid them. Raphael disguised as a human offers to join Tobias to help him recover funds from a relative. Raphael, disguised as a human, offers to accompany Tobias in his journey. He tells him that the burnt liver or the heart can drive out demons while the gall cures blindness. Raphael predicted that Sarah would be the demon’s generation.

Tobias and Sarah are married. Tobias is rich and they move back to Nineveh (Assyria) where Tobit and Anna are waiting for their guests. Tobit’s blindness treated, Raphael continues his journey after telling Tobit, Tobias and Tobit to praise God and to proclaim his acts (the Jews), that they must fast, pray and offer alms. Tobit praises God who has brought his people to exile, but will give mercy to them and build their Temple should they come back to God.

Tobit provides Tobias in the epilogue in the epilogue, that Nineveh is going to be destroyed due to the fact that it is an example of wickedness. Israel too will be devastated and its Temple destroyed. Israel and the Temple nevertheless, will be restored. Tobias should then leave Nineveh and he should continue to live in righteousness.


Tobit is considered to be a novel with certain historical references. It combines prayers, moral exhortation, humor and adventure, with elements derived from folklore, travel stories, wisdom tales with romance and comedy. It also offered advice to diaspora people, also known as Jews in exile, on how to maintain their Jewish identity.

The Latin Rite uses readings from the book. The book is read at weddingsand in various rites, as a result of its praise for the purity of marriage. Its doctrines regarding angels’ intercession and filial piety and reverence for people who have died are mentioned. In the chapter five of 1 Meqabyan (a book considered to be canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church), Tobit is also mentioned.

Texts and composition

Leaf from a manuscript on vellum, c. 1240.

Although the Book of Tobit was written in the 8th Century BC, the actual book was written between 225 and 125 BC. There is no consensus on the location of composition (almost all regions of the ancient world are considered to be possible candidates”); a Mesopotamian origin seems logical since the tale is set in Assyria, Persia, and includes the Persian demon “aeshma Daeva” and the name of which is “Asmodeus”. However the book has a number of geographical errors (such as the distance between Ecbatana and Rhages and their topography) and arguments that argue for or against Judean or Egyptian composition.

Tobit is found in two Greek translations. One is Sinaiticus longer than the other (Vaticanus or Alexandrinus). 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.

The Vulgate places Tobit, Judith and Esther after the historical books (after Nehemiah). Certain manuscripts from Greek versions place them after wisdom writings.

Canonical status

The deuterocanon refers to the Jewish books that appear in the Septuagint and not included in the Masoretic standard canon of the Jewish Bible. Protestants do not adhere to the Masoretic Canon and therefore they don’t include Tobit in the standard Masoretic Canon. However, they do recognize it in the category deuterocanonical books, which are also known as the apocrypha.

The Council of Rome (A.D.382) The Council of Rome (A.D. 382) 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 the Catholic Churches as well as Eastern Orthodox Churches. Catholics refer to it as deuterocanonical.

Augustine (c. A.D. 397) and Augustine (c. A.D. 397) and Pope Innocent I (A.D. 405) Innocent I (A.D. 405) confirmed Tobit as part of the Old Testament Canon. Athanasius (A.D. 367) mentioned that certain other books, including the Tobit book Tobit which, though not part of the Canon, “were appointed by the Fathers to be read”.

Rufinus of Aquileia (c. A.D.400) declared that the book of Tobit and other deuterocanonical works, weren’t Canonical but Ecclesiastical.

The book of Tobit is traditionally located in the intertestamental area known as Apocrypha in accordance with Protestant customs. In Anabaptism the book of Tobit is a liturgy used during Amish weddings. It is “the Tobit book” being used as Tobit as the source of the wedding sermon.” Tobit is part of the Luther Bible’s “Apocrypha,” which means books that aren’t considered equal to the sacred Scriptures but can still be helpful to read. [5] Article 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 book uses verses from Tobit in its Eucharistic ceremony. The Scripture readings from the Apocrypha are included in the Lectionary of the Lutheran Churches and Anglican Churches, in addition to other denominations that use the Revised Common Lectionary, though alternative Old Testament readings are provided. In Holy Matrimony services, Anglican, Methodist, and Catholic congregations make use of the Book of Tobit as a reading from the Bible.

Tobit offers interesting proof of the early development of the Jewish canon. This refers to two, not three, divisions of the Law of Moses, (i.e. The Torah (or the prophets). It’s not in the Hebrew Bible. There are various reasons the reason it’s not there. This includes the fact that it reveals the marriage contract between Tobias (his bride) and her father (her groom). The text is located in the Septuagint which is a Greek Jewish writings, which was adopted by the Christian canon near the end of the 4th century.


Tobit’s place within the Christian canon made it able to influence art, culture, and theology in Europe. It was often mentioned by early Church fathers. The motif of Tobias (a symbol of Christ) was highly popular in theology and art. [36] Particularly noteworthy is the paintings of Rembrandt who, despite being a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, was responsible for a number of paintings and drawings illustrating chapters in the book.