Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


Show Summary Details


The Book of Tobit is a wisdom novel. Similar to the tales in the Book of Daniel, but longer, it is a Diaspora novel which essentially exhorts the Jews of the Diaspora to be faithful to God and to wait patiently for the return to their own land. It is set in Nineveh, and makes conscious reference to Jonah's prediction of the destruction of Nineveh (14: 4, 8, 15). Tobit's piety is stressed, yet, contrary to conventional expectations, Tobit does not enjoy prosperity but is severely punished for his piety (a tale similar to that of Job). Parallel to the story of Tobit is the story of Sara, a woman who had married seven husbands. Each had been killed by Asmodeus, an evil spirit, before they had consummated their marriage to Sara (3: 8). The angel Raphael is sent to cure Tobit, and to give Sara as wife to Tobit's son Tobias. What follows is a folktale with marvels and comic interludes. Raphael instructs Tobias to take a fish, which had nearly devoured the young man, open it up, and take out the heart, liver, and gall (6: 1–8). These protect Tobias and cure Tobit. The story ends by vindicating the pious, and confirming after all conventional expectations about the rewards of good deeds—and Tobit has a bonus by hearing about the destruction of Nineveh (thus confirming Jonah's prediction) before he dies. Neither date nor provenance of writing is known. The doxological nature of much of it suggests that it is a wisdom novel designed to encourage Jews of the Diaspora to remain faithful to God, to practise their traditional Jewish ethics and way of life, and to wait expectantly for the ending of their exile.

Chapter.  294 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.