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
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