Tobit 3

Chapter 3

Tobit’s Prayer. 1 With deep distress I groaned and wept aloud. Then, sobbing, I began to pray:

2 “You are just, O Lord,
and all your deeds are just.
All your ways are merciful and true;
you are the judge of the world.
3 And now, O Lord, be mindful of me
and look upon me with favor.
Do not punish me for my sins
or for my unthinking offenses
or those of my ancestors.
“They sinned against you
4 and did not obey your commandments.
Therefore, you have subjected us to pillage, captivity, and death,
to become the talk, the laughingstock, and the object of scorn,
of all the nations among which you have dispersed us.
5 “And your many judgments are true
when you deal with me as my sins deserve
and those of my ancestors.
For we have not kept your commandments,
nor have we walked in truth in your sight.
6 “So now, deal with me as you wish;
command that my life be taken away from me
so that I may be removed from the face of the earth and once again become dust.
For it is better for me to die than to live,
because I have endured undeserved insults,
and I am engulfed in the deepest grief.
“Command, O Lord, that I be delivered from this affliction;
receive me into the eternal abode,[a]
and do not, O Lord, turn your face from me.
For it is better for me to die
than to endure a life of such unrelieved misery
and to be subjected to these insults.”

Sarah: Innocence Diabolically Offended[b]

Sarah’s Misfortune.[c] 7 On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media, it also happened that Sarah, the daughter of Raguel,[d] had to endure the insults of one of her father’s maids. 8 For she had been married to seven husbands, but the wicked demon Asmodeus had slain each of them before the marriage had been consummated as is customary. The servant girl said to her, “You are the one who has slain your husbands! Behold, you have already been given in marriage seven times, but you have experienced no joy with any of your husbands. 9 Just because your husbands are dead is no reason to abuse us. Join them, and may we never live to see any son or daughter of yours!”

10 On that day, deeply distressed, she went in tears to an upper room in her father’s house, intending to hang herself. But then she considered further, thinking: “Perhaps they will reproach my father, saying to him, ‘You had only one beloved daughter, but because of her misfortune she hanged herself.’ Thus I would cause my father in his old age to descend to Hades, overcome with sorrow. It would be far better for me not to hang myself but to beg the Lord to grant that I die so that I will no longer have to listen to these taunts.”

11 Sarah’s Prayer.[e]Then, with hands outstretched toward the window, she offered this prayer:

“Blessed are you, merciful God!
May your name be blessed forever,
and may all your works forever praise you.
12 “And now, O Lord, I turn my face toward you
and raise my eyes to you.
13 Command that I be delivered from the earth,
never again to endure such reproaches.
14 “You know, O Master, that I am innocent
of an act of impurity with any man,
15 and that I have never dishonored my name
or the name of my father in this land of exile.
“I am the only child of my father,
and he has no other child to be his heir.
Neither does he have a close relative or other kindred as a potential bridegroom
for whom I should stay alive.
I have already suffered the loss of seven husbands.
Why then should I want to live any longer?
However, if it is not your will, O Lord, to take my life,
then look on me with pity
and never again permit me to hear these insults.”

16 An Answer to Prayer.[f]At that very moment the prayer of both these petitioners was heard in the glorious presence of God, 17 and Raphael[g] was sent to heal them both. He was to remove the white patches from Tobit’s eyes so that he might once again behold God’s light with his own eyes, and he was to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, in marriage to Tobiah, son of Tobit, and then free her from the wicked demon Asmodeus. For Tobiah had the right to claim her in marriage before any other suitor.

At the very moment that Tobit returned from the courtyard to his house, Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, descended from her upper room.

Footnotes

  1. Tobit 3:6 The author has Tobit use the words of Jonah who wanted to die because God had not destroyed the hated Ninevites (Jon 4:3, 8). In comparable circumstances, Moses (Num 11:15), Elijah (1 Ki 19:4), and Job (Job 7:15) also prayed for death. Eternal abode: a reference to Hades, the abode of the dead from which no one returns (Job 7:9-10; 14:12; Isa 26:14). The fuller revelation of a blessed immortality in the Book of Wisdom was still to come.
  2. Tobit 3:7 The story of Tobit is brusquely interrupted. In a second sequence, the author introduces a new and unexpected personage.
  3. Tobit 3:7 In the ancient East, sicknesses and sometimes even death were attributed to the wickedness of a demon, here called Asmodeus, “the destroyer” (even though he is not related to Asmadaeva, the worst demon of Avesta, the sacred book of the Persians).
  4. Tobit 3:7 Raguel: cousin of Tobit (see Tob 7:2). Ecbatana was the capital of the middle kingdom (the contemporary Hamadan in Iran).
  5. Tobit 3:11 The Vulgate version of this prayer (vv. 13-23) is as follow: “13She said: ‘Blessed is your name, O God of our fathers. When you are angry, you still show mercy, and in the time of tribulation you forgive the sins of those who call upon you. 14To you, O Lord, I turn; on you my eyes are fixed. 15I beg, O Lord, that you will loose me from the bond of this reproach, or else take me away from the earth. 16You know, O Lord, that I have never lusted after any man and have kept my soul clean from shameful desire. 17Neither have I frequented the company of the wanton nor cast my lot with the lovers of dalliance. 18When I consented to take a husband, your law rather than my lust was my rule. 19It seems that I was unworthy of the love of these men, or perhaps they were not worthy of my love. It may be that you were reserving me for another husband, 20for your counsel is beyond human reach. 21But this at least all your worshipers know: there was never a life of trials that did not have its crown; never a distress from which you could not save; never a punishment without a gateway to your mercy. 22For you do not delight in our loss; rather, after a storm you bring a calm and after tears and weeping you fill us with rejoicing. 23May your name, O God of Israel, be blessed forever.’ ”
  6. Tobit 3:16 Is the cry of the righteous who are afflicted heard by God? The author lets us in on the secret: God is neither indifferent nor absent; his Providence disposes everything for the good of those who love him. Through the intermediary of an angel, Raphael—that is, “God heals”—his Providence intervenes in favor of his two suffering children.
  7. Tobit 3:17 Raphael: an angel, whose name means “God heals.”

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