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Summary of The Book of Tobit

Tobit is a book of the Tanakh and one of the books of the Catholic and Orthodox Old Testament. It is one of the apocrypha. The name is commonly used as a title for the whole work, much like we might use “title of a person” to refer to a book written by that person. The Book of Tobit or simply, Tobit, (טוביה tovīʾ) is in the narrative form, common in ancient Near Eastern literature.

This is a summary of the shortest book in the Bible called Tobit. This book is written in the form of parable, which makes it more interesting and enjoyable to read. The Book of Tobit can be divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue. Its source is said to be in Persia. Its date, according to Donald Guthrie’s New Bible Commentary, is fixed around 490 BC or just before.

To live in happiness and comfort, You will have to get rid of the urge To give your heart away And risk it on another day. The Widow is an older woman who knows her life won’t be as rich as she ages. She has given so much of herself to others, but now all she wants is her own peace and comfort in a secure place where she can avoid being hurt anymore by love. Her husband had died several years earlier and everyone figured that she would remarry. She had suitors and friends with eligible nephews who would want to marry this beautiful widow. But she was firm; when pressed about marrying, she always said no.

What Is the Message of The Book of Tobit

The message of Tobit is theological – it is a didactic text of two families united by marriage after several misfortunes, but who through fidelity to God, prove that God is just. Suffering is not a punishment but a test. The believer is called to be merciful and to trust in God.

It tells the story of two Israelite families, that of the blind Tobit in Nineveh and of the abandoned Sarah in Ecbatana. Tobit’s son Tobias is sent to retrieve ten silver talents that Tobit once left in Rages, a town in Media; guided and aided by the angel Raphael he arrives in Ecbatana, where he meets Sarah.

Theological Themes in Tobit

1. Fidelity to God

– Despite facing misfortunes, both Tobit and Sarah remain faithful to God.
– This fidelity is rewarded as they are eventually united through marriage.

2. God’s Justice

– The text illustrates that God is just, rewarding those who trust in Him.
– Suffering is not portrayed as a punishment but as a test of faith.

3. Mercy and Trust

– Believers are called to show mercy to others, as seen in the actions of Tobias towards Sarah.
– Trust in God is emphasized as a key aspect of faith throughout the story.

Key Characters in Tobit

1. Tobit

– A blind Israelite living in Nineveh.
– Demonstrates unwavering faith in God despite his suffering.

2. Sarah

– An abandoned Israelite woman living in Ecbatana.
– Faces hardships but remains faithful to God.

3. Tobias

– Tobit’s son who embarks on a journey to retrieve his father’s ten silver talents.
– Guided by the angel Raphael, he meets and eventually marries Sarah.

Locations in Tobit

1. Nineveh

– The city where Tobit resides, facing adversities due to his faith.

2. Ecbatana

– The place where Sarah lives, also experiencing trials but remaining steadfast in her beliefs.

3. Rages

– The town in Media where Tobias is sent to retrieve the silver talents.

Character Town
Tobit Nineveh
Sarah Ecbatana
Tobias Rages

Style: Informative
Tone: Reflective

Summary of The Book of Tobit

The Book of Tobit is one of the Books in The Old Testament and I just finished readin it. It was really interesting!

I must confess, I always heard that the Bible is the greatest story book of all time with many wonderful stories in it but only NOW I realised that the Bible is INDEED the greatest story book ever!


Chapter 1: Prologue

There was a man named Tobit. He was the descendant of Asiel of the tribe of Naphtali. He was a holy, noble and just man, an Israelite, who lived in exile in Nineveh, in the land of the Assyrians. He had a wife, Anna and they had a son named Tobias.

Chapter 2: Tobit

One night, while Tobit was sleeping, sparrow droppings fell into his eyes. This produced white films which covered his eyes. He went to see the doctors, but they were not able to heal him and he became completely blind. He was blind for 4 years and his wife had to earn their living by doing women’s work.

One day, she was paid her full wage and was given a young goat as well. But when she returned, Tobit heard the goat bleat and thought she had stolen it, so he told her to return it. She told him that it was given to her as a gift in addition to her wages but he did not believe her and so they quarreled.

Chapter 3: Sarah

This made Tobit upset so he prayed that his life be taken away from him so that he did not have to live his miserable life, blind and all…

On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media, there was a girl named Sarah, the daughter of Raquel. She had already been married off 7 times, but all 7 husbands had been killed by the demon Asmodeus before they had been with her. Because of this, she was blamed by the people around her and thus she decided to hang herself. However, she thought it over and decided not to kill herself because she did not want to upset her parents. Instead, she prayed that her life be taken away from her…

At that moment, God heard both their prayers and so he sent his angel Raphael to heal them.

Chapter 4: Gabael

Also on the same day, Tobit suddenly remembered that 22 years ago, he had left in trust some money with his friend Gabael at Rages in Media. Since he had prayed for death, he realised that it would be wise for him to tell his son Tobias about this before he died. So he called his son and basically told Tobias to:

1) Give him a proper burial when he dies.

2) Honor his mother and not abandon her all the days of her life; please her and not grieve her. And when she died, bury her beside Tobit in the same grave.

3) Revere the Lord all his days and refuse to sin and to live a righteous life.

4) Marry a woman from the descendants of their ancestors.

5) Go to the media and get back the money from Gabael, as they have become poor.

Chapter 5: Azariah

Tobias promised to do all as his father asked but he pointed out that he did not know Gabael and Gabael did not know him. How would Gabael recognize and trust him to give him the money? Also, he did not know Media or how to go to there. Tobit then explained that Gabael had given him his bond and they had divided it in two – one part was with him and the other with the money. So with Tobias bringing that bond, there would not be a problem. As for not knowing Media, Tobit told his son to find a trustworthy man to go with him and that they will pay the man wages when they have returned. So Tobias went to look for someone to take him all the way to Media and back safely.

So he went out and found a man standing in front of him

Tobias asked him, “Where do you come from?”

“From your kindred, the Israelites,” he replied, “and I have come here to find work.”

“Do you know the way to Media?” Tobias asked him.

The man said that he knew the way to Media very well and that he would stay with their kinsmen, Gabael at Rages, which is a 2 days journey to Ecbatana. So Tobias told him to wait while he told his father.

When Tobias told Tobit about the Israelite, Tobit asked his son to bring in the man for he wanted to find out about his backrgound and make sure that he is trustworthy to go with Tobias. So Tobias called the man in to see his father.

“Joyous greetings to you!” he greeted Tobit.

Tobit retorted, “What joy is left for me any more? I can’t see…”

“Take courage,” he said, “the time is near for God to heal you.”

Then Tobit asked the man if he could accompany his son to Media and after he agreed, Tobit asked “Brother, of what family are you and from what tribe?”

The man replied, “Why do you need to know my tribe?”

Tobit said, “I want to be sure, brother, whose son you are and what your name is.”

“I am Azariah,” he replied, “the son of the great Hananiah, one of your great relatives.”

Tobit replied, “Welcome Azariah! God save you, brother. Do not feel bitter towards me because I wanted to be sure about your ancestry. I turns out that you are a kinsman, and of good and noble lineage…”

He continued, “I will pay you a drachma a day as wages, as well as expenses for yourself and my son.” And then he gave them his blessings for their journey.

Tobias’s mother, however, began to weep and questioned Tobit as to why he was sending him away for fear of losing him. Tobias was their only son and begged him to forget about the money and consider it a ransom for their child, for the life given by the Lord to them was enough. But Tobit told her not worry and assured her that a good angel would accompany him and that his journey would be successful and he would come back in good health.

Chapter 6: The Journey

So Tobias and Azariah went on their way to Media…

Soon however, it was nightfall, so they camped by the Tigris river. Tobias went down to wash his feet in the river but suddenly, a large fish leaped up from the river and tried to swallow his foot so he cried out. Azariah told him to catch hold of the fish and hang on to it. So Tobias did and drew it up on dry land. Azariah then told him to cut the fish open and take out its gall, heart and liver and keep them for they can be used for medicine. So Tobias did as he was told and after that, he roasted the fish, ate some and kept some to be salted…

They then continued on their way to Media…and Tobias asked Azariah about the medicinal value of the fish’s gall, heart and liver. Azariah told him that the heart and liver must be burned to smoke in the presence of a person afflicted by a demon or evil power and every affliction will flee away and never remain in that person any longer. As for the gall, he could anoint a person’s eyes where white films have appeared on them, blow upon them, upon the white film and the eyes will be healed.

As they were nearing Ecbactana in Media, Azariah told Tobias that they must stay the night at the house of Raguel, who is Tobias’s relative, descendents of his ancestors. He further told Tobias about Raquel’s daughter Sarah and that according to the decree of the book of Moses, Tobias has the most right to marry her as he was the next of kin. However, Tobias has heard of the fate of Sarah’s 7 husbands and he was worried that should he marry her and die, being an only son, his parents would also die and they had no one to bury them. However, Azariah reminded him that his father had wanted him to take a bride from his descendents and assured him that if he burns the fish heart and liver, the demon that is with her will leave and they will be safe. He further told Tobias that before he and Sarah went to bed, they should pray to the Lord that he grant them mercy and safety. He managed to convince Tobias so Tobias said no more.

Chapter 7: Tobias marries Sarah

When they arrived in Ecbactana, they went to Raquel’s house. Raquel was sitting beside the courtyard door and he welcomed them inside. He told his wife Edna that Tobias resembled his kinsman Tobit. So Edna asked them where they were from and upon hearing they had come from the descendents of Napthali who were exiles in Nineveh, she proceeded to ask if they knew Tobit and asked if he was in good health. They admitted to knowing Tobit and assured them that he was in good health and Tobias revealed that he was the son of Tobit. At that, Raquel jumped up, kissed him and wept and exclaimed that it was such a shame that such a good man as Tobit became blind. His wife Edna and his daughter Sarah also wept. Then they slaughtered a ram and received their guests warmly.

That night at dinner, Tobias reminded Azariah to ask for Sarah’s hand in marriage from Raquel. However, Raquel overheard this, so he told Tobias not to worry for he knew that no other man had the right to marry his daughter and urged them to dine. However, Tobias refused to eat until Sarah was his wife. And so, Raquel made out a marriage contract given her to him as wife according to the decree of the law of Moses. After that, they dined and Raquel told Edna to prepare a room for the newly-weds. Edna did so and took Sarah there where she comforted her daughter assuring her that the Lord will grant her joy in place of sorrow.

Chapter 8: The Wedding

Soon it was time to retire so they took Tobias into his bedroom. Remembering what Azariah had told him, he took the fish heart and liver and burned it on the incense. The odor of the burned fish repelled the demon that he fled to the remotest part of Egypt. But Azariah followed him and at once bound him there hand and foot. In the meantime, Tobias and Sarah prayed and implored for the Lord’s mercy and safety, and after that, went to sleep.

In the middle of the night however, Raquel and his wife got up and Raquel dug a grave in case Tobias should die like the previous seven. They had already been ridiculed because of the previous seven so if he did die, they wanted to bury him before anyone knowing. After he had dug the grave, they sent one of the maids to check on them. So the maid went and returned with news that they were soundly asleep. So Raquel and Edna thanked the Lord and gave him praises. And he ordered his servants to fill in the grave before daybreak.

The following day, they held a wedding feast for the newly-weds and Raquel made Tobias promise to stay there for fourteen days, celebrating with them and cheering his daughter who had been depressed all this while. Only after that would Raquel give him half of what he owned and allow him to return to his father with his wife.

Chapter 9: Azariah gets the money and Gabael

Since he had promised not to leave, Tobias called Azariah and told him to take four servants and two camels and travel to Rages to Gabael, give him the bond, get the money and bring Gabael himself to return with him to attend the wedding celebration. And so Azariah went and did all he was asked. When Gabael arrived at Raquel’s house, Tobias greeted him and Gabael said, “Good and noble son of a father good and noble, upright and generous. May the Lord grant the blessing of heaven to you and your wife, and to your wife’s father and mother. Blessed be God, for I see in Tobias the very image of my cousin Tobit.”

Chapter 10: Tobias’ parents

Meanwhile, back in Nineveh, Tobias’ parents were worried, wondering what is taking Tobias so long to return. Tobit wondered perhaps he had been caught or that Gabael had passed away and there was no one to give the money to him. And Anna, Tobias’ mother was convinced that Tobias was dead for she had waited for his return everyday, watching the road from where he would return but no one came.

Fourteen days later, it was time for Tobias to leave Ecbactana with his wife and return to his father’s house. Raquel asked them to stay longer but Tobias insisted they had to leave since he knew his parents were worried. So Raquel sent them away with his blessings as well as half his property. And together with Azariah, they all left for Nineveh.

Chapter 11: Back to Nineveh

When they came close to Nineveh, Azariah reminded Tobias on how they had left his father, so he suggested that they go ahead of the others and make the necessary preparations. And Azariah asked Tobias to have the gall ready.

As usual, Anna was watching the road that day and when she saw them coming, she leapt with joy and called Tobit. Then she ran to her son and threw her arms around him, glad that he was alive and well. When Tobit came out to meet them, Tobias went up to him, held him firmly and blew the fish gall into his eyes saying, “Take courage father” and he applied it on his eyes. It made them smart and with his hands, he peeled the white film from Tobit’s eyes. And suddenly, Tobit could see again and he praised God.

Tobias then told his father that his journey had been successful. He had brought back the money and also, he had married Raquel’s daughter, who was on her way to them. At that moment, she arrived and Tobit went to greet his daughter-in-law. The people there watched and noticed that Tobit’s sight had been returned to him and they were amazed and in front of them all, Tobit acknowledged that God had been merciful to him and restored his sight.

And on that day, there was rejoicing among all the the Jews who were in Nineveh and with merriment they celebrated Tobias’ wedding for seven days and many gifts were given to him.

Chapter 12: Azariah

Finally, after all the festivities were over, Tobit reminded his son that it was time for them to pay Azariah the wages they promised him, and also a bonus for he had brought him back safely, cured Sarah and Tobit and brought back the money. They decided that they would give Azariah half of all that they had brought back. So Tobias called Azariah and gave him his full wages and the bonus and bid him goodbye.

Azariah however, called Tobias and Tobit in private and said to them, “Bless God for all the good things that he has done for you. Sing and praise his name. It is good to conceal the secret of a king, but to acknowledge and reveal with due honor the works of God.” And he continued, “I will now declare to you the whole truth and will conceal nothing from you. For as I have said, it is good to conceal the secret of a king, but to acknowledge and reveal with due honor the works of God.” And he revealed that it was he who had brought all their prayers, Tobias’, Sarah’s and all Tobit’s good works to God and that he had been sent to heal Tobit and Sarah.

And finally, Azariah said:

“I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand ready and enter before the glory of the Lord.”

At this, father and son were shaken and fell to the ground, afraid, but he told them not to be afraid but to continue to praise God. He also revealed that all the while he had been with them, although he had been eating/drinking, it was all just a vision. Lastly, he told them to write all these things that have happened to them. After that, he ascended back into the heavens.

Chapter 13: Thanks

And so from then on, they continued singing and praising God and Tobit gave thanks to the God for everything.

Chapter 14: Epilogue

Tobit died in peace when he was 112 years old. (He was 62 years old when he became blind.) After regaining his sight, he lived in prosperity, giving alms and continually blessing God and acknowledging God’s majesty. Before he died, he called Tobias and his seven sons and told them to leave Nineveh for the prophecies foretold that it would no longer be safe to stay there. He also advised them that even if they came to bury their mother with him later, they should not stay longer than they should. And so they obeyed and lived in Ecbatana with his parents-in-law.

Tobias inherited both the property of Raquel and his own father Tobit and he died highly respected at the age of 117 years. Before he died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh and he saw the prisoners being led into captive into Media and rejoiced over Nineveh and Assyria and blessed the Lord God forever and ever.


The book of Tobit tells the story of Tobit and his family, who are living as exiles from Israel after the Assyrian conquest. Through a series of events, Tobit goes blind and sends his son on a journey accompanied by the angel Raphael disguised as a human. On his journey, the son Tobias meets Sarah, who is afflicted by a demon. Raphael intervenes and dispatches the demon, allowing Tobias and Sarah to marry. They return to Tobit and his wife, Anna, Tobit’s sight returns and he dies old and happy because of God’s intervention in their travails. The book is not historical, but rather a folk tale with manifold entertaining elements, such as defecating birds, meddling fish, menacing demons, and disguised angels. Beneath the surface, however, the book interacts with deep theological questions at the core of the human condition, questions that also find expression—with various answers—throughout the Jewish scriptures: Where does suffering come from? What are the benefits of righteousness? What is the value of religious tradition? In answering such questions through its entertaining narrative, the book of Tobit weaves together an erudite panoply of religious, scriptural, and cultural traditions. Within scholarship, there are a number of debated issues with which treatments of the book have dealt, including: original language, provenance, date of composition, and ideological disposition. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Tobit was primarily known from Greek and Latin manuscripts. Although some scholars had posited a Semitic Vorlage behind it, all major translations and interpretations of the book had to be made from Greek. Several Aramaic and Hebrew manuscripts of Tobit were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, which provided a watershed in understanding the book. Analysis of the scrolls has provided widespread agreement that the book was originally written in Aramaic. These manuscripts, however, are fragmentary and translations are still made from the Greek version of Codex Sinaiticus. Association with the Qumran community has also led to some reassessment of the book’s theological outlook. The book of Tobit is one of the Deuterocanonical books, also known as the Apocrypha. As such, it is generally not included among Protestant Christians’ list of canonical texts, while it is for Roman Catholics and most Orthodox traditions. There is no evidence that the text was ever “canonical” in the Jewish tradition.

General Overviews

These overviews are introductory in nature, have less detail than a formal commentary, and will orient readers to the broad content and pertinent topics under consideration in interpretation of Tobit. Each of these will be more or less helpful depending on when it was written, specifically whether written with knowledge of the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts. Simpson 1913 is very instructive and posits a Semitic original that preceded the Greek version. Craghan 1982Nickelsburg 1988, and Otzen 2002 provide overviews that will introduce those who are not familiar with Tobit to its features and debated issues.

  • Craghan, John. Esther, Judith, Tobit Jonah, Ruth. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1982. NNNA basic introduction. Accessible for lay people. Its strength lies in its treatment of the book alongside other Jewish “novellas.”
  • Nickelsburg, George W. E. “Tobit.” In Harper’s Bible Commentary. Edited by James Mays, 791–803. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988. NNNBroad introduction with good amount of attention paid to contextual matters. Basic introduction to scholarly issues as well.
  • Otzen, Benedikt. Tobit and Judith. London: Sheffield Academic, 2002. NNNAccessible introduction and some detailed analysis through different sense units of the book of Tobit. Has an assessment of redactional possibilities and argues against significant redaction in Tobit’s textual history.
  • Simpson, David. “The Book of Tobit: Introduction.” In Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Vol. 1. Edited by R. H. Charles, 174–201. Oxford: Clarendon, 1913. NNNA good introduction, especially in its treatment of Tobit’s eschatology. Argues for a Semitic background somewhat presciently, since he did so without any knowledge of the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts.

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