His Neighbors Deride Tobit’s Generosity. 1 During the reign of Esarhaddon, therefore, I returned home, and my wife Anna and my son Tobiah were restored to me. At our festival of Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, an excellent dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat. 2 The table was set for me, and an abundance of food was placed before me. I said to my son Tobiah, “Go out, my child, and find some poor man among our people exiled here in Nineveh. If he is wholeheartedly devoted to God, bring him back with you to share my meal. I will wait for you, my son, until you return.”
3 And so Tobiah went out to search for some poor person of our people. When he returned, he said, “Father!” I replied, “What is it, my son?” “Father,” he answered, “one of our people has been murdered and thrown into the marketplace, and he is still lying there strangled.” 4 I sprang up at once, leaving my dinner without having even tasted it; and I removed the body from the marketplace and put it in one of the rooms until sunset when I would be able to bury it. 5 When I returned, I bathed myself and ate my dinner in sorrow, 6 recalling the words pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel:
“I will turn your religious feasts into mourning,
and all your singing into weeping.”
7 And I wept. When the sun had set, I went out, dug a grave, and buried him. 8 My neighbors jeered at me, saying, “Is he still unafraid? Once previously he had been hunted down under the penalty of death for this identical offense; yet here he is, after his escape, once again burying the dead.”
In the Heat of the Trial. 9 That same night, after bathing, I went into the courtyard and lay down to sleep by the courtyard wall, with my face uncovered because of the heat. 10 [a]I was not aware that sparrows were poised on the wall above me. Their warm droppings fell into my eyes, causing white patches to form, and I had to go to the doctors for a cure. But the more they treated my eyes with their ointment, the more my vision was impaired by the white patches, until at last I became completely blind. For four years I remained sightless. All my kindred grieved at my situation, and Ahiqar took care of me for two years, until he departed for Elymais.[b]
11 At that time my wife Anna used to earn money by working in her rooms for payment, spinning wool and weaving cloth. 12 When she delivered what she had made to those who had ordered the work, they would pay her. On the seventh day of the month Dystros,[c] she completed a particular job of weaving and delivered it to her employers. They not only paid her the agreed-upon wages in full but also gave her a young goat for a meal. 13 When the goat entered my house, it began to bleat. I called to my wife and asked, “Where did you get this goat? Perhaps it was stolen. Return it to its owners. We have no right to eat anything stolen.” 14 But she reassured me, “It was given to me as a bonus in addition to my wages.” However, I did not believe her, and I insisted that she return it to its owners. I became very angry over this. She replied, “Where is your almsgiving? Where are your good deeds? Everyone can now see the kind of person you really are!”
- Tobit 2:10 Elymais was the Greek name for Elam, which lay between Persia and Babylonia.
- Tobit 2:10 At this point the Vulgate has an additional seven verses that begin as follows: “12The Lord permitted that [Tobit] should undergo this trial so that his patience might be an example to his posterity, like the patience of holy Job. 13For although he had always feared God from his infancy, and kept his commandments, he did not complain against God because the evil of blindness had befallen him. 14Rather, he continued immovable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life. 15For as the kings [i.e., fellow chieftains] taunted holy Job, so his relations and kindred mocked at Tobit’s life, saying: 16‘Where is your hope, for which you gave alms and buried the dead?’ 17But Tobit rebuked them, saying, ‘Do not speak this way; 18for we are children of saints and we await that life that God will give to those who never lack faith in him.’ ”
- Tobit 2:12 The Macedonian month of Dystros corresponded to the Jewish month of Shebat (January–February). For a meal: literally, “for the hearth.” The gift may have been given at the time of some feast in the spring like the Jewish Feast of Purim.