Tobit Obeyed God in Israel
1My name is Tobit, and this book tells my story. I belong to the Asiel clan of the tribe of Naphtali, and my ancestors include my father Tobiel, my grandfather Hananiel, and then Aduel, Gabael, and Raphael. 2-3#2 K 17.3; 18.9. My hometown is Thisbe in Galilee. Thisbe is south of the town of Kedesh in Naphtali, and it is northwest of Hazor and north of Phogor. But when Shalmaneser#1.2,3 Shalmaneser: Shalmaneser V, ruled 727–722 b.c. was king of Assyria, I was one of many Jews who were captured by the Assyrian army and taken to Nineveh in Assyria.
All my life, I have been honest and done what is right. And even after we were brought here to Nineveh, I still gave help to my relatives and other Jews, whenever they were in need.
4When I was a young man in Israel, my tribe had already rejected the descendants of David#1.4 David: Ruled about 1010–970 b.c. as their kings. In fact, the people of Naphtali never went to Jerusalem to worship, even though that is where God's sacred temple had been built. The temple will be God's home forever, and so God said the tribes of Israel must go there to offer sacrifices to him. 5#1 K 12.26-33. But my relatives and everyone else in my tribe went to the town of Dan and offered sacrifices to the idol that King Jeroboam#1.5 King Jeroboam: Jeroboam I, the first king of the northern kingdom, ruled 931–910 b.c. had made in the shape of a calf. They also worshiped on hilltops all over Galilee.
6 # Dt 16.16. I was the only one who went to Jerusalem for the festivals, just as God's unchanging command says to do. I would hurry to Jerusalem with my sacrifices and offerings, whether they were the first part of the harvest, the first-born of a sheep, the tenth of my livestock,#1.6 livestock: Or “newborn livestock.” or the first wool from my sheep. 7#Dt 14.22-27. I would always take these offerings to the temple and give them to the priests at the altar. And I would always bring to Jerusalem the tenth of my grain, wine, olive oil, pomegranates,#1.7 pomegranates: A reddish fruit with a hard rind. figs, and other kinds of fruit, and I would give this tenth to the Levites who served in the temple. Also, for six years out of seven,#1.7 six years out of seven: The seventh year, the Israelites were not supposed to plant or harvest crops, but were supposed to let the land rest (see Leviticus 25.1-7). I would sell a second tenth of my harvest and take the money to Jerusalem and spend it there on a celebration.
8When I was young, my father died and left me as an orphan. So it was my grandmother#1.8 grandmother: One possible meaning for the difficult Greek text. Deborah who told me to be careful and obey what the Law of Moses commanded about taking care of orphans and widows and of those who had come from other countries to become part of Israel. That's why every third year, I would set aside a third tenth#1.8 a third tenth: Some Greek manuscripts and one ancient translation; other Greek manuscripts have “the second tenth.” of my harvest and use part of it to hold a festival for them. Then I would give them the rest.
9When I was old enough, I married a woman from my own tribe,#1.9 a woman from my own tribe: Other Greek manuscripts and some ancient translations have “Anna, a woman from my own tribe” (see also 1.20). and we had a son. I named him Tobias.
Tobit Obeys God in Assyria
10Later, after we were led away to Assyria as prisoners, we went to live in the city of Nineveh.#1.10 Nineveh: The capital city of Assyria. All my brothers and other relatives ate the same food as everyone else in Assyria. 11But I decided to eat only what was allowed by the Law of Moses. 12Obeying God was the most important thing in my life. 13That's why God Most High made King Shalmaneser so pleased with me. Shalmaneser even put me in charge of buying all the supplies for his palace, 14and I held that position for the rest of his life. I used to travel to Media#1.14 Media: A mountainous country east of Assyria and north of Persia, in what is today northwest Iran. on business trips, and on one of those trips, I put 120,000 of my own silver coins#1.14 120,000 … silver coins: The Greek text gives the total weight of the coins as 340 kilograms, which would be 120,000 of the silver coins mentioned in 5.15. in bags, then left them for safekeeping with Gabael the brother of Gabri. 15Later, after Shalmaneser died and his son Sennacherib#1.15 Sennacherib: Ruled Assyria 705–681 b.c. Sennacherib's father was Sargon II (ruled 722–705 b.c.), who may have been the brother of Shalmaneser; but a previous king could be called the “father” of the current king. took his place as king, Media was no longer a safe place to travel. And so, I never went back for my silver coins.
16While Shalmaneser was king, I often helped my relatives and other Jews when they were in need. 17#Job 31.16-20. I gave them food when they were hungry and clothes when they had none. And whenever I saw the dead body of an Israelite tossed outside Nineveh's city wall,#1.17 the dead body … city wall: Probably Israelites who had been put to death by the king. I always buried the body. 18King Sennacherib had invaded Judah and insulted God, the King of Heaven. So God punished him and his army, forcing him to run for his life. Sennacherib was angry, and he killed many Israelites when he got back to Assyria. But I secretly took the bodies away and buried them, and when Sennacherib looked for them, they were gone.
19Someone in Nineveh went to the king and told him that I had secretly buried the bodies. And when I found out that the king knew what I had done and wanted me hunted down and killed, I was afraid and ran away. 20Then the king seized everything I owned—all I had left were my wife Anna and my son Tobias.
21About 40 days later, Sennacherib was murdered by two of his sons. They ran away to the Ararat mountains, and Sennacherib's other son Esarhaddon#1.21 Esarhaddon: Ruled Assyria 681–669 b.c. became king. Esarhaddon appointed Ahikar, the son of my brother Hanael, to be in charge of both the royal accounting department and the treasury.#1.21 and the treasury: Or “and so he had a lot of authority in every area of the king's government.” 22My nephew Ahikar had been in charge of the accounting department and the treasury under Sennacherib, and he had also been responsible for Sennacherib's official ring#1.22 Sennacherib's official ring: The king would use this ring to put his special mark on documents to make them official. and his wine. Ahikar talked Esarhaddon into letting me come back to Nineveh.