Tobit 4

The Righteous Are Rewarded[a]

Tobit’s Testament

Chapter 4

1 That same day Tobit remembered the money he had left in the custody of Gabael at Rages in Media, 2 and he said to himself, “I have now asked for death. Therefore, before I die, I should call my son Tobiah and tell him about this money.” 3 [b]Therefore, he summoned his son Tobiah and said to him, “My son, when I die, give me a proper burial. Honor your mother, and do not abandon her during her lifetime. Do whatever pleases her, and never grieve her in any way. 4 Remember, my son, she endured many risks for your sake while you were in her womb. And when she dies, bury her beside me in one grave.

5 “Be faithful to the Lord all the days of your life, my son, and never succumb to the desire to sin or to transgress his commandments. Do good works all the days of your life, and do not walk in evil ways. 6 For if you lead an honest life, you will be successful, as will all those who live uprightly.[c]

7 “Distribute alms from your possessions. If you do not avert your gaze from anyone who is poor, God will never turn his face away from you. 8 Your almsgiving should be in proportion to your means. If you have been blessed with great abundance, give much; if you possess little, do not be afraid to give even some of that. 9 In this way you will be accumulating for yourself a goodly treasure for the day of adversity. 10 For almsgiving delivers the donor from death and saves people from descending into darkness. 11 Those who give alms have a worthy offering in the presence of the Most High.

12 “My son, avoid all forms of immorality. Above all, choose a wife from among the lineage of your ancestors. Do not marry anyone who is not descended from your father’s tribe, for we are the descendants of the prophets. Remember, my son, that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our ancestors from of old, all took wives from their own kindred. They were blessed in their children, and their descendants will inherit the land. 13 Therefore, my son, you too must love your kindred; do not disdain them, the sons and daughters of your people, and do not be too proud to take a wife for yourself from among them. Such pride results in ruin and great anxiety. Idleness, too, leads to loss and dire poverty, since idleness is the mother of famine.

14 “Do not withhold until the following day the wages of those who work for you, but pay them at once. If you serve God, you will be rewarded. Be cautious, my son, in everything that you do, and let your behavior be disciplined. 15 Do not do to anyone what you yourself hate.[d] Do not drink wine to excess or allow drunkenness to become your companion on your journey of life.

16 “Share your food with the hungry and your clothes with those who are in need of them. Whatever you have in excess, give as alms, and do so ungrudgingly. 17 Generously provide bread and wine at the graves of the just, but give nothing to sinners.[e]

18 “Seek the advice of every wise person, and do not ignore any useful counsel. 19 Bless the Lord God at all times; ask him to guide you along straight paths and to grant success to all your plans and works. Pagan nations lack such guidance, unless the Lord himself who is the source of all good things chooses to grant it. The Lord exalts those he wills or casts them down even to the depths of Hades. Finally, my son, remember these precepts and never let them be effaced from your heart.

20 “And now, my son, I must tell you that I have on deposit ten talents of silver in the care of Gabael, son of Gabri, at Rages in Media.[f] 21 Do not be afraid, my son, because we have become poor. Great wealth is yours if you fear God, avoid every kind of sin, and do what is good in the sight of the Lord, your God.”

Footnotes

  1. Tobit 4:1 We revisit Tobit with his preoccupations. Starting from this situation, the account is picked up. The author invites us to discover the Lord at work in the life of the righteous. Efficaciously and discreetly, Providence acts through a series of vicissitudes whose hero is Tobiah and that recall the history of the patriarchs.
  2. Tobit 4:3 A collection of ethical counsels that parallels those found in the Wisdom Books, especially Proverbs and Sirach, as well as in the wisdom literature of other nations and peoples of the ancient Near East: duties toward parents (vv. 3-4); prosperity resulting from a moral life (vv. 5-6); need of almsgiving and charity (vv. 7-11, 16-17); marriage within one’s kindred (vv. 12-13); idleness and industry (v. 13); prompt payment of wages (v. 14); the golden rule in its negative form (v. 15a); temperance in drink (v. 15b); acceptance of good counsel (v. 18); and use of prayer (v. 19).
  3. Tobit 4:6 Before the fuller revelation of the Book of Wisdom and the New Testament concerning the retribution in the afterlife, the people of the Old Testament believed that virtue led to prosperity and sin brought about disaster (see Deut 28).
  4. Tobit 4:15 Do not do to anyone what you yourself hate: this is a negative formulation of the so-called Golden Rule concerning the relations with others and is found in almost all religions. Jesus gave it a positive formulation (see Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).
  5. Tobit 4:17 The use of food and drink at the tomb of the dead is prohibited by Deuteronomy (Deut 26:14) because the tomb renders unclean whatever comes in contact with it (Num 19:11-19). Hence, this verse should be understood to mean bringing food and drink dinners of consolation to the home of the family of the deceased (see Jer 16:7).
  6. Tobit 4:20 Rages in Media lies within the vicinity of the present-day Tehran.

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