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TOBIAS of the tribe and city of Nephtali, (which is in the upper parts of Galilee above Naasson, beyond the way that leadeth to the west, having on the right hand the city of Sephet,)

Ver. 1.  Tobias, "good God," (T.) is styled Tobis, by the ancient Latin version and S. Ambrose, and Tobit by the Greek and Syriac.  These copies and the Heb. give a genealogy which does not agree.  C.

 

--- Grabe's edit. "The book of the words (or transactions) of Tobit, Son of Tobiel, son of Ananiel, son of Adouel, (MS. has Nave) son of Galael, (MS. Gamael) of the seed of Asiel, of the tribe of Nephthali, (2) who was made captive in the days of Enemessar, king of the Assyrians, from Thisbe, (MS. Thibe) which is on the right properly (MS. of Kudis.  H. or Cades, capital.  C.) of Nephthali in Galilee, above Aser.  I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and of justice all the days of my life."  H.

 

--- Nehemias and the prophets frequently speak of themselves in the first person.  The truth of the history is the same.  D.

 

--- Beyond, or behind; (post.  H.) as the Hebrews speak with reference to a man turned towards the east.  Hence this way would be on the west, and Sephet on the north.


THE BOOK OF TOBIAS.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

This Book takes its name from the holy man Tobias, whose wonderful virtues are herein recorded.  It contains most excellent documents of great piety, extraordinary patience, and of perfect resignation to the will of God.  His humble prayer was heard, and the angel Raphael was sent to relieve him: he is thankful, and praises the Lord, calling on the children of Israel to do the same.  Having lived to the age of one hundred and two years, he exhorts his son and grandsons to piety, foretells the destruction of Ninive, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem: he dies happily.  Ch.

 

--- The Jews themselves have a great regard for the book of Tobias; (Grot. Sixtus Senens. viii.) which Origen (ad Afric.) says they "read in Hebrew," meaning probably the Chaldee, (C.) out of which language S. Jerom translated it, preferring to displease the Pharisaical Jews, rather than not to satisfy the desires of the holy bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus.  Ep. t. iii.  W.

 

--- The Greek version seems to have been taken from another copy, or it has been executed with greater liberty by the Hellenist Jews, between the times of the Sept. and of Theodotion.  C.

 

--- Huet and Prideaux esteem it more original; and Houbigant has translated it in his Bible, as the Council of Trent only spoke of the Latin editions then extant; and S. Jerom followed in his version the Hebrew one of a Jew, as he did not understand the Chaldee.  H.

 

--- The Syriac and the modern Hebrew edition of Fagius, agree mostly with the Greek, as that of Munster and another Heb. copy of Huet, and the Arabic version, both unpublished, are more conformable to the Vulgate.  The most ancient Latin version used before S. Jerom, was taken from the Greek; and the Fathers who lived in those ages, speak of it when they call the book of Tobias canonical.  S. Aug. leaves it, however, to adopt S. Jerom's version, in his Mirrour.  The copies of all these versions vary greatly, (C.) though the substance of the history is still the same; and in all we discover the virtues of a good parent, of a dutiful son, and virtuous husband, beautifully described.  H.

 

--- "The servant of God, holy Tobias, is given to us after the law for an example, that we might know how to practise what we read; and that if temptations assail us, we may not depart from the fear of God, nor expect help from any other."  S. Aug. q. 119. ex utroque Test.

 

--- The four first chapters exhibit the holy life of old Tobias, and the eight following, the journey and affairs of his son, directed by Raphael.  In the two last chapters they praise God, and the elder Tobias foretells the better state of the commonwealth.  W.

 

--- It is probable that both left records, from which this work has been compiled, with a few additional observations.  It was written during (C.) or after the captivity of Babylon.  E.

 

--- The Jews had then little communication with each other, in different kingdoms. Tobias was not allowed to go into Media, under Sennacherib; and it is probable that the captives at Babylon would be under similar restrictions; so that we do not need to wonder that they were unacquainted with this history of a private family, the records of which seem to have been kept at Ecbatana.  The original Chaldee is entirely lost, so that it is impossible to ascertain whether the Greek or the Vulg. be more conformable to it.  The chronology of the latter seems however more accurate, as the elder Tobias foretold the destruction of Ninive, twenty-three years before the event, which his son just beheld verified, dying in the 18th year of king Josias.  The accounts which appear to sectaries to be fabulous, may easily be explained.  Houbigant.

 

--- Josephus and Philo omit this history.  C.




2 When he was made captive in the days of Salmanasar king of the Assyrians, even in his captivity, forsook not the way of truth,

Ver. 2.  Salmanasar.  When Osee was conquered, A. 3283.  See 4 K. xvii. 6.

 

--- Truth.  His constancy in the observance of the true religion was so much the more wonderful, as he was rich, and lived among the wicked.  C.



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3 But every day gave all he could get to his brethren his fellow captives, that were of his kindred.

Ver. 3.  Kindred. Greek adds, "who went along with me...to Ninive."


4 And when he was younger than any of the tribe of Nephtali, yet did he no childish thing in his work.

Ver. 4.  Younger.  "Very young," (H.) or the youngest of those who administered their own affairs.  The parents of Tobias were deceased.  C.

 

--- Greek, "when I was young in my country, in the land of Israel, all the tribe," &c.


5 Moreover when all went to the golden calves which Jeroboam king of Israel had made, he alone fled the company of all,

Ver. 5.  All, or the greatest part; (H.) for some still feared God; (C. ii. 2.  W.) and the Greek of C. v. 14. or 19. informs us that Ananias and Jonathan accompanied Tobias.  H.

 

--- Greek is more diffuse.  C.

 

--- (4) "All the tribe of Nephthali, of my father, departed from the house of Jerusalem, which city had been chosen from all the tribes of Israel, for all the tribes to offer sacrifice; and the temple of the tabernacle of the most High was sanctified, and was built forever; (5) and all the tribes, apostatizing together, sacrificed to Baal, to the heifer; (Comp. ed. to the power of Baal) and the house of Nephthali, of my father, likewise. (6) And I alone went frequently to Jerusalem, at the feasts" (H.) of the Passover, &c.  M.

 

--- The other versions are nearly similar.  C.

 

--- But we cannot specify all these variations. H.

 

--- The number has induced some to conclude, not improbably, that there were two originals; (T.) the Syriac by the elder, and the Chaldee by the younger Tobias. Justiniani.

 

--- But this is destitute of proof.  C.



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6 And went to Jerusalem to the temple of the Lord, and there adored the Lord God of Israel, offering faithfully all his firstfruits, and his tithes,


7 So that in the third year he gave all his tithes to the proselytes, and strangers.

Ver. 7.  Strangers.  See Deut. xiv. 28.  M.  Lev. xxvii. 30.  C.

 

--- Greek, "And the third I gave to whom it belonged, as Debbora, my father's mother, ordered me, as I was left an orphan by my father; (9) and when I was," &c.  H.


8 These and such like things did he observe when but a boy according to the law of God. 9 But when he was a man, he took to wife Anna of his own tribe, and had a son by her, whom he called after his own name,

Ver. 9.  Man.  The Jews married young: but the time was not fixed.  C.

 

--- After.  Greek, "Tobias."  They always style the father Tobit. H.


10 And from his infancy he taught him to fear God, and to abstain from all sin. 11 And when by the captivity he with his wife and his son and all his tribe was come to the city of Ninive,

Ver. 11.  Ninive, called Ninus by Pliny, &c.  M.

 

--- It was so large, as easily to receive a whole tribe, which was sold for slaves. C.




12 (When all ate of the meats of the Gentiles) he kept his soul and never was defiled with their meats.

Ver. 12.  Meats, such as had been immolated to idols, (M.) or were forbidden to the Jews. C.


13 And because he was mindful of the Lord with all his heart, God gave him favour in the sight of Salmanasar the king. 14 And he gave him leave to go whithersoever he would, with liberty to do whatever he had a mind.

Ver. 14.  And he.  Greek, "I was his marketter," (H.) to provide provisions for the palace.  "He set me over all he had, till the day of his death."  Munster. 

 

--- But this Hebrew author has probably exaggerated the matter, to make Tobias appear as great as he could.  These editions add no more, continuing, (15) "And I went into Media, and I deposited with Gabael, or Gabelus," &c.


15 He therefore went to all that were in captivity, and gave them wholesome admonitions. 16 And when he was come to Rages a city of the Medes, and had ten talents of silver of that with which he had been honoured by the king:

Ver. 16.  Rages means "rupture," by frequent earthquakes, and was (M.  C.) the residence of the Parthian kings, in spring, (Athen. xii. 2.) in the mountain, separating their country from Media.

 

--- Honoured for his salary.  C.


17 And when amongst a great multitude of his kindred, he saw Gabelus in want, who was one of his tribe, taking a note of his hand he gave him the aforesaid sum of money.

Ver. 17.  Money.  People might formerly make use of what was merely deposited in their hands.  Ulpian.

 

--- The old Latin version has, "I committed to him ten talents in gold."


18 But after a long time, Salmanasar the king being dead, when Sennacherib his son, who reigned in his place, had a hatred for the children of Israel:

Ver. 18.  Time.  Salmanasar reigned fourteen years; seven after the captivity, which to people in distress would appear long.  C.

 

--- Gr. "And after Enemessar was dead, Sennacherib, his son, reigned in his stead; and his ways ceased, (or his high roads were stopped) and I could no longer go into Media."  H.

 

--- We find nothing in history to confirm this stoppage: (C.) but it might be in consequence of the wars.  Houbigant.  See the preface.  H.

 

--- Israel. This hatred was augmented, after the unfortunate expedition into Palestine.  C.  M.  4 K. xix. 35.


19 Tobias daily went among all his kindred, and comforted them, and distributed to every one as he was able, out of his goods:

Ver. 19.  Goods, under Sennacherib; though he was now deprived of his place.  C.

 

--- Greek, Syr. and Heb. insinuate, that this happened under his predecessor.  H.


20 He fed the hungry, and gave clothes to the naked, and was careful to bury the dead, and they that were slain.

Ver. 20.  Slain, by order or connivance of Sennacherib.  M.

 

--- Tobias buried the dead, out of charity, and the belief of a future resurrection.  Hence arises the respect for tombs and the relics of the saints.  C.

 

--- The pagans imagined that the souls could not rest till their bodies were interred.  Homer, Virgil vii. &c.  C.


21 And when king Sennacherib was come back, fleeing from Judea by reason of the slaughter that God had made about him for his blasphemy, and being angry slew many of the children of Israel, Tobias buried their bodies.

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22 But when it was told the king, he commanded him to be slain, and took away all his substance. 23 But Tobias fleeing naked away with his son and with his wife, lay concealed, for many loved him.

Ver. 23.  Loved him, even of the Assyrians.  The Jews were not able to afford him shelter. M.


24 But after forty-five days, the king was killed by his own sons.

Ver. 24.  Forty.  Arabic, twenty-five; Gr. and Syr. fifty; other Gr. copies, fifty-five days.  Fagius says Tobias was hidden nineteen days.  It seems, therefore, we should date these forty-five days from the return of Sennacherib.

 

--- Sons.  See 4 K. xix. 37. and Isai. xxxvii. 38.  C.

 

--- Gr. adds, "and they fled to the mountains of Ararat, and Sacherdoc, (our Assaraddon) his son, reigned in his stead; and he appointed Achiachar Anael, the son of my brother, over all the accounts of his kingdom, and over all his government.  And Achiachar petitioned for me; and I came to Ninive.  But Achiachar was cup-bearer, (Alex. MS. receiver of wine) and keeper of the ring, and governor and keeper of accounts; and Sacherdonosos gave him the second place.  But he was my nephew.  And when I returned to my house, and my wife Anna, and my son Tobias, were restored to me, at the feast of Pentecost," &c.  H.

 

--- This seems contrary to v. 23.  Yet the Heb. copies agree in this particular, and mention the dignity of Akikar.  But we may judge what credit these additions deserve.  C.

 

--- They merit some attention, as they may be original.  See Pref.  H.



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25 And Tobias returned to his house, and all his substance was restored to him.
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