It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyriansin the great city of Nineveh. At that time Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana.
Around this city he built a wall of blocks of stone, each three cubits inheight and six in length. He made the wall seventy cubits high and fifty thick.
At the gates he raised towers of a hundred cubits, with a thickness of sixty cubits at the base.
The gateway he built to a height of seventy cubits, with an opening forty cubits wide for the passage of his chariot forces and the marshaling of his infantry.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar waged war against King Arphaxad in the vast plain, in the district of Ragae.
1 To him there rallied all the inhabitants of the mountain region, all who dwelt along the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Hydaspes, and King Arioch of the Elamites, in the plain. Thus many nations came together to resist the people of Cheleoud.
Now Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, sent messengers to all the inhabitants of Persia, and to all those who dwelt in the West: to the inhabitants of Cilicia and Damascus, Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, to all who dwelt along the seacoast,
to the peoples of Carmel, Gilead, Upper Galilee, and the vast plain of Esdraelon,
to all those in Samaria and its cities, and west of the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, Bethany, Chelous, Kadesh, and the River of Egypt; to Tahpanhes, Raamses, all the land of Goshen,
Tanis, Memphis and beyond, and to all the inhabitants of Egypt as far as the borders of Ethiopia.
But the inhabitants of all that land disregarded the summons of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, and would not go with him to the war. They were not afraid of him but regarded him as a lone individual opposed to them, and turned away his envoys empty-handed, in disgrace.
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar fell into a violent rage against all that land, and swore by his throne and his kingdom that he would avenge himself on all the territories of Cilicia and Damascus and Syria, and also destroy with his sword all the inhabitants of Moab, Ammon, the whole of Judea, and those living anywhere in Egypt as far as the borders of the two seas.
In the seventeenth year he proceeded with his army against King Arphaxad, and was victorious in his campaign. He routed the whole force of Arphaxad, his entire cavalry and all his chariots,
and took possession of his cities. He pressed on to Ecbatana and took its towers, sacked its marketplaces, and turned its glory into shame.
Arphaxad himself he overtook in the mountains of Ragae, ran him through with spears, and utterly destroyed him.
Then he returned home with all his numerous, motley horde of warriors; and there he and his army relaxed and feasted for a hundred and twenty days.
1  Cheleoud: probably the Chaldeans are meant.
2  The two seas: the ancient rulers in Mesopotamia often designated the limits of their realm as extending from the Upper Sea (the Mediterranean) to the Lower Sea (the Persian Gulf).
1  (4-5) Nahum: one of the minor prophets, whose book contains oracles of doom against Nineveh. Here, in keeping with the period to which he assigns his story, the sacred author makes Tobit speak as if the punishment of Nineveh, the destruction of Jerusalem (587 B. C.), the exile from Judah and the return, would all take place in the future. The technique of using the facts of past history as seemingly future predictions, is a frequent device of apocalyptic writers. The Good Land: a favorite name for the promised land. Cf ⇒ Deut 1:35; ⇒ 3:25; ⇒ 4:21, ⇒ 22.
2  Until the era . . . completed: a reference to the advent of Messianic times, in which a new, more perfect temple was to be expected. Cf ⇒ Hebrews 9:1-14.
3  Conversion of the Gentiles is also to come in the Messianic era.
4  Nadab: In the Story of Ahiqar, the hero Ahiqar, chancellor under the Assyrian kings Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, adopts his nephew Nadab and prepares him to become his successor. But Nadab treacherously plots to have his uncle put to death. Ahiqar hides in a friend’s house, and is finally vindicated (came out again into the light) when Nadab’s scheme is discovered. Thereupon Nadab is thrown into a dungeon where he dies (went into everlasting darkness). It was Ahiqar’s almsgiving that delivered him from death; see note on ⇒ Tobit 2:2.
5  Cyaxares: Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, and Cyaxares conquered and destroyed Nineveh in 612 B. C.; see note on ⇒ Tobit 1:15.
1  (1-18) Tobit’s hymn of praise (cf ⇒ Exodus 15:1-18; ⇒ Judith 16:1-17) is divided into two parts. The first part (⇒ Tobit 13:1-8) is a song of praise that echoes themes from the hymns and psalms of the kingdom; the second (⇒ Tobit 13:9-18) is addressed to Jerusalem in the style of the prophets who spoke of a new and ideal Jerusalem (Isaiah 60); cf Rev 21.
2  Works of your hands: idols.
1 (1-5) Tobit and his son generously agree to give Azariah far more than the wages agreed upon in ⇒ Tobit 5:15-16.
2  (6-10) In the fashion of a wisdom teacher, Raphael gives the two men a short exhortation similar to the one Tobit gave his son in ⇒ Tobit 4:3-19.
3  (6-7) The Jews considered the duty of praising God their most esteemed privilege. Without praise of God, life was meaningless. Cf ⇒ Isaiah 38:16-20.
4  Prayer . . . fasting . . . almsgiving . . . righteousness: these, together with the proper attitude toward wealth, are treated in great detail by Christ our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6). 9 for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life;
5  (12,15) Raphael is one of the seven specially designated intercessors who present man’s prayers to God. Angelology was developing in this period. The names of two other angels are given in the Bible: Gabriel (⇒ Daniel 8:16; ⇒ 9:21; ⇒ Luke 1:19, ⇒ 26) and Michael (⇒ Daniel 10:13, ⇒ 21; ⇒ 12:1; ⇒ Jude 1:9; ⇒ Rev 12:7).
6  I was sent . . . test: God often sends trials to purify his faithful servants further. Cf Job 1-2.
1  (2,3) The manner of coping with demonic influences among the ancients seems quaint to us. However, the fish here is part of the story, and not a recipe for exorcism. It is clear that the author places primary emphasis on the value of prayer to God (⇒ Tobit 6:18; ⇒ 8:4-8), on the role of the angel as God’s agent, and on the pious disposition of Tobiah.
3  For fourteen days: because of the happy, and unexpected, turn of events, Raguel doubles the time of the wedding feast. When Tobiah returns home, the usual seven-day feast is held (⇒ Tobit 11:18). Cf ⇒ Judges 14:12.
1  Its gall . . . medicines: belief in the healing power of these organs was common among even the physicians of antiquity.
2  Raguel . . . Book of Moses: ⇒ Numbers 36:6-8 prescribed marriage within the ancestral tribe, but no death penalty is mentioned.
3  Rise up to pray: prayer is needed to drive out the demon.
1  Document: in Greek cheirographon. In the Middle Ages, notably in England, a deed and its duplicate were written on one piece of parchment, with the Latin word chirographum inscribed across the top of the sheet or between the two copies of the text. The document was then cut in two in either a straight or a wavy line, the parts being given to the persons concerned. Perhaps this procedure derived from the present verse of Tobit. Duplicate documents, usually one open and the other sealed, are well known from the ancient Near East.
2  He did not know: the theme of an angel in disguise occurs frequently in folklore as well as in the Old Testament (Genesis 18; cf ⇒ Hebrews 13:2).
3  It is a good two days’ travel from Ecbatana to Rages: Alexander’s army took eleven days in forced marches to cover this distance, about 180 miles. The author is merely using popular impressions about faraway places; he is not teaching geography. (See notes on ⇒ Tobit 1:15; ⇒ 3:7 and Introduction.)
4  Hearty greetings and what joy form a wordplay on the Greek verb chairein, “to greet” and “to be joyful.”
5  (13-14) Azariah, “Yahweh helps”; Hananiah, “Yahweh is merciful”; Nathaniah, “Yahweh gives”; Shemaiah, “Yahweh hears.”
6  The normal wages: literally, “a drachma,” about seventeen cents, a day’s wage for a workingman.
7  My love: literally, “sister,” a term of endearment applied to one’s wife; cf ⇒ Tobit 7:11, ⇒ 15; ⇒ 8:4, ⇒ 21; ⇒ 10:6, ⇒ 13; ⇒ Song 4:9, ⇒ 10, ⇒ 12; ⇒ 5:1, 2. A good angel: a reference to the guardian angel, though Tobit does not know, of course, that Raphael himself, disguised as Azariah, is the good angel in this case.