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An outline of the Book of Tobit

Written By Franklin V on Thursday, October 2, 2014 | 7:04 AM

An outline of the Book of Tobit


The Book of Tobit, also referred to as Tobias, believed to have been written early in the second century B.C., recounts the story of a man named Tobit and his family exiled to living in Nineveh shortly after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. Tobit and his family strive to love and honor God and act as righteous followers of the Law. The Book of Tobit is regarded as a book of history, and its literary form is regarded by some as that of a religious novel. However, the teaching of the book is not driven by or relevant to historical events. Rather, it instructs about piety, honoring one’s parents, giving alms to the poor, intercessory prayer, marriage, and following the Law.

The story of Tobit revolves around a righteous, law-abiding Jew who did not abandon traditional Jewish beliefs and practices while other Jews living in exile with him were worshipping idols and failing to follow God’s laws. Tobit did many good deeds, including burying Jews according to ritual at some risk to himself and giving alms to the poor. His family was wealthy. However, one hot night after burying a body, Tobit slept outside, and sparrow droppings fell into his eyes and blinded him. He despaired and asked God that he may die. On that same day in Media, Sarah, one of Tobit’s kinsman, prayed to God to take her life also because she was constantly ridiculed for marrying seven times, and each time the demon Asmodeus killed her husband before the marriage could be consummated.

With Tobit expecting to die soon, he sent his only son, Tobiah, to Media to return a large sum of money on deposit with a relative. During this trip, Tobiah was unknowingly accompanied by the angel Raphael (who appears only in the Apocrypha, not the Bible). Tobiah was attacked by a large fish, which Raphael tells him to kill and extract its gall bladder, liver, and heart, because they “can be used as medicines.” Upon arriving in Media, Tobiah marries Sarah at Raphael’s insistence and uses the fish heart and liver to dispose of the demon and protect the marriage bed. When Tobiah returns home, he applies the gall and restores his father’s sight.

This book was written in Aramaic, a rather common international language used by Jews and many others living during the intertestamental period. For centuries the original text was lost, and the Greek translation served as the primary source for this book. However, in Cave IV at Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls discovery), fragments of Tobit were found written in Aramaic and Hebrew, and conform closely to the Greek recension used for current translations.

Several verses in Tobit repeat Old Testament Scripture, such as First and Second Kings, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and many others. Tobit also hints at the birth of Christ described in the New Testament Gospels and the end times in apostle John’s Book of Revelation.


 1:1-1:2     Introduction
 1:3-1:9     Tobit's youth and Virtuous Life
 1:10-1:15   Taken Captive to Nineveh
 1:16-2:6    Courage in Burying the Dead

 2:7-2:10    Tobit Becomes Blind
 2:11-2:14   Tobit's Wife Earns Their Livelihood

 3:1-3:6     Tobit's Prayer
 3:7-3:9     Sarah Falsely Accused
 3:10-3:15   Sarah's Prayer for Death
 3:16-3:17   An Answer to Prayer

 4:1-4:19    Tobit Gives Instructions to His Son
 4:20-4:21   Money Left in Trust with Gabael

 5:1-5:22    The Angel Raphael

 6:1-6:9     Journey to Rages
 6:10-6:18   Raphael's Instructions

 7:1-9:9     Arrival at Home of Raguel
 7:9-7:16    Marriage of Tobias and Sarah

 8:1-8:18    Robias Routs the Demon
 8:19-8:21   Wedding Feast

 9:1-9:6     The Money Recovered

10:1-10:7    Anxiety of the Parents
10:7-10:13   Tobias and Sarah Start for Home

11:1-11:6    Homeward Journey
11:7-11:18   Tobit's Sight Restored

12:1-12:5    Raphael's Wages
12:6-12:10   Raphael's Exhortation
12:11-12:22  Raphael Discloses His Identity

13:1-13:17   Tobit's Thanksgiving to God

14:1-14:11   Tobit's Final Counsel
14:12-14:15  Death of Tobit and Anna

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