Tobit

I highly recommend reading the whole book of Tobit as it is a beautiful love story on many levels: father and son, son and bride, the archangel Raphael and man, and God and man. Tobiah goes on a mission to collect a debt for his father, Tobit, who is blind and falling into despair. On the journey he is accompanied by an angel. The angel facilitates Tobit meeting his bride, Sarah, whom has had seven fiancée‘s die each before marrying her.

An outline of the Book of Tobit is an follows

  1. Tobit’s ordeals (trouble with authorities, illness, wife’s mockery, despair)
  2.  Sarah’s plight (marriage seemingly impossible, maidservant’s mockery)  Sarah makes this prayer: Tobit 3:11 “Blessed are You, O LORD, merciful God! Forever blessed and honored is Your holy Name; may all Your works forever bless You.”
  3.  Tobiah’s journey and marriage to Sarah   Sarah and Tobiah marry
    Tobit 8: 5-8 She got up, and they started to pray and beg that deliverance might be theirs. He began with these words: “Blessed are You, O God of our fathers; praised be Your Name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all Your creation praise You forever. You made Adam and You gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, LORD, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down Your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.
  4.  Tobiah’s return; cure of Tobit’s blindness  Tobit and Tobiah are reunited. Tobit used fish gall for his cataracts and he began to see. Tobit 11:14-15 When Tobit saw his son, he threw his arms around him and wept. He exclaimed, “I can see you, son, the light of my eyes!” Then he said, “Blessed be God and praised be His great Name, and blessed be all His holy angels. May His holy Name be praised throughout all the ages, because it was He who scourged me, and it is He who has had mercy on me. Behold, I now see my son Tobiah!”
  5.  Archangel Raphael reveals his identity Tobit 12:6 Raphael called the two men aside privately and said to them: “Thank God! Give Him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things He has done for you, by blessing and extolling His Name in song. Before all men, honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising Him.”
  6.  Part of Tobit’s song of praise Tobit 13:11,18

verse 11 A bright light will shine to all parts of the earth; many nations shall come to You from afar, and the inhabitants of all the limits of the earth drawn to You by the Name of the LORD God, bearing in their hands their gifts for the King of heaven. Every generation shall give joyful praise in You, and shall call You the chosen One, through all ages forever.
verse 18 The gates of Jerusalem shall sing hymns of gladness, and all her houses shall cry out, “Alleluia!” “Blessed be God who has raised you up! May He be blessed for all ages!” For in you they shall praise His holy Name forever. The end of Tobit’s hymn of praise.

Part of Tobit’s advice before he died Tobit 14:9 “Now, children, I give you this command: serve God faithfully and do what is right before Him; you must tell your children to do what is upright and to give alms, to be mindful of God and at all times to bless His Name sincerely and with all their strength.”

I am including an excerpt from the excellent set of books called The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich because they contain an explanation of the events in the book of Tobit that although really lived, they were also an allegory for Jesus’s coming into the world.

 THE LIFE STORY OF TOBIT. AN ALLEGORY OF THE COMING OF SALVATION.

On the feast of the Archangel Michael in September 1821, Catherine Emmerich recounted, among other fragments of a vision of the holy angels, the following fragment of the story of Tobiah, whom she had seen with the Archangel Raphael as his guide.

I saw many things from the life of Tobiah, which is an allegory of the history of the coming of salvation in Israel; not an imaginative allegory, but one which actually happened and was lived. It was shown to me that Sarah, the wife of the young Tobiah, was a prototype of St. Anne. I will relate as much as I can remember of the many things that happened, but shall not be able to reproduce them in their right order. The elder Tobit was an emblem of the God-fearing branch of the Jewish race, those who were hoping for the Messiah. The swallow, the bird whose droppings fell into Tobit’s eyes, is a messenger of spring, indicated the near approach of salvation. The blindness of old Tobit signified that he was to beget no more children, and was to devote himself entirely to prayer and meditation; it signified also the faithful, though dim, longing and waiting for the light of salvation and the uncertainty as to whence it was to come. Tobit’s quarrelsome wife represented the empty and harassing forms into which the Pharisees had converted the Law. The goat which she had brought home in lieu of wages had, as Tobit warned her, really had been stolen, and had for that reason had been handed on to her in return for very little. Tobit knew the people concerned and all about it, but his wife only mocked him. This mockery also indicated the contempt of the Pharisees and formalists for the devout Jews and Essenes and the relationship between the two groups, but I cannot now remember how this was.
The Archangel Raphael was not telling an untruth when he said that he was Azarias, the son of Ananias, for the general meaning of these words is: The help of the Lord out of the cloud of the Lord’.  This angel, the companion of young Tobiah, represented God’s watchfulness over the Blessed Virgin’s descent through her ancestors and His preservation and guidance of the Blessing through the generations which preceded her conception. In the prayer of the Elder Tobit, and of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel (I saw both these prayers being brought by the angels at one and the same time before the Throne of God and there granted), I recognized the supplications of the God-fearing Israelites and of the Daughters of Sion for the coming of salvation, as well as the simultaneous prayers of Joachim and Anna, separated from each other, for the promised offspring. The blindness of the elder Tobit and his wife’s mockery of him also symbolized Joachim’s childlessness and the rejection of his sacrifice at the Temple. The seven husbands of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, who were destroyed by Satan, came to their end through sensuality; for Sarah had made a vow to give herself only to a chaste and God-fearing man. These seven men symbolized those whose entry into Jesus’ ancestry according to the flesh would have hindered the coming of the Blessed Virgin, and thus the advent of salvation. There was also a reference to certain unblessed periods in the history of salvation and to the suitors whom Anna had to reject that she might be united to Joachim, the father of Mary. The maidservant’s reviling of Sarah ( Tobit chapter 3 verse 7) symbolized the reviling by the heathen and by the godless and unbelieving among the Jews against the expectation of the Messiah, for whose coming all God-fearing Jews were, like Sarah, inspired to pray with ever-increasing fervor. It was also an image of the reviling of Anna by her maidservant, where after that holy mother (Anna) prayed with such fervor that her prayer was granted. The fish which was about to swallow young Tobiah symbolized the powers of darkness, heathendom, and sin striving against the coming of salvation, and also Anna’s long barrenness. The killing of the fish, the removal of its heart, liver, and gall, and the burning of this by Tobit and Sarah to make smoke–all these symbolized the victory over the demon of fleshly lusts who had strangled Sarah’s seven husbands, as well as the good works and continence of Joachim and Anna, by which they had obtained the blessing of holy fruitfulness. I also saw therein a deep significance relating to the Blessed Sacrament, but can no longer explain this. The gall of the fish, which restored the sight of Tobias’ father, symbolized the bitterness of the suffering through which the chosen ones among the Jews came to know and share in salvation; it indicated also the entry of the light into the darkness brought about by Jesus’ bitter sufferings from His birth onwards.
I received many explanations of this kind, and saw many details of the history of Tobias. I think the descendants of young Tobiah were among the ancestors of Joachim and Anna. The elder Tobit had other children who were not godly. Sarah had three daughters and four sons. Her first child was a daughter. The elder Tobit lived to see his grandchildren.

Nehemiah

Nehemiah was a layman who was directly involved in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and restoring law and order but he first had to get permission from the king (Artaxerxes 464 BC – 423 BC) to leave Babylon and go back to Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 1:7-9, 11
Nehemiah’s prayer to God to be able to go back to Jerusalem from service to the king of Babylon

verses 7-9 “Grievously have we offended You, not keeping the commandments, the statues, and the ordinances which You committed to Your servant Moses. But remember, I pray, the promise which You gave through Moses, Your servant, when You said: ‘Should you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the nations; but should you return to Me and carefully keep My commandments, even though your outcasts have been driven to the farthest corner of the world, I will gather them from there, and bring them back to the place which I have chosen as the dwelling place for My Name.
verse 11 O LORD, may Your Ear be attentive to my prayer and that of all Your willing servants who revere Your Name. Grant success to Your servant this day, and let him find favor with this man” – for I was cupbearer to the king.

See the source imageThe wall was rebuilt in 52 days.

Ezra the priest led a gathering of people to confess to the LORD.

Nehemiah 9:5, 10
verse 5 “Arise, bless the LORD, your God from eternity to eternity!” The Israelites answered with the blessing, “Blessed is Your glorious Name, and exalted above all blessing and praise.”
verse 10 “You worked signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants and the people of his land, Because You knew of their insolence toward them; thus You made for Yourself a Name even to this day.”

Ezra

The next two books of the Bible are the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The events in these books take place after the Babylonian exile of the Jews and when they were allowed back into Judah and Israel. This was the time of restoration of their worship to God and the rebuilding of their communities.
Ezra 5:1 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo, began to prophesy to the Jews in Jerusalem in the Name of the God of Israel (to begin rebuilding the temple).
As the Jews were allowed to go back to Israel, the Persian King Darius (521 BC -485 BC) made an official decree for rebuilding the temple. This is part of the decree:
Ezra 6:12 “And may the God who causes His Name to dwell there overthrow every king or people who may undertake to alter this or to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree; let it be carefully executed.”

Prayer to restore relationship with God

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You and I detest all my sins because of Your just punishment, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.  Amen.

Some works of the kings

The king of Judah and the king of Israel conspired to fight the Arameans. Before the fight, they consulted a group of 400 prophets whether they should attack or not. All the prophets were in agreement that they should attack and that they would be victorious. Micaiah the prophet, spoke to Ahab (king of Israel).
2 Chronicles 18:13-16 “As the LORD lives,” Micaiah answered, “I will say what my God tells me.” When he came to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to fight against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go up,” he (Micaiah) answered, “and succeed; they will be delivered into your power.” But the king said to him, “How many times must I adjure you to tell me nothing but the truth in the Name of the LORD?” Then Micaiah answered: “I see all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD saying, ‘These have no master! Let each of them go back home in peace.'”

2 Chronicles 19:8 In Jerusalem also, Jehoshaphat ( 4th king of Judah 870 BC to 848 BC) appointed some Levites and priests and some of the family heads of Israel to judge in the Name of the LORD and to settle quarrels among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

part of the prayer of the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, 4th king of Judah 870 BC to 848 BC
2 Chronicles 20:9 ‘When evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You, for Your Name is in this house, and we will cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save!’

This king, Manasseh 14th king of Judah, had some evil inclinations, but he repented and was forgiven.
2 Chronicles 33: 4, 7, and 18
verse 4 He (Manasseh) even built altars (for false gods) in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall My Name be forever”
verse 7 He (Manasseh) placed an idol that he had carved in the house of God, of which God had said to David and his son Solomon: “In this house and in Jerusalem which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel I shall place My Name forever…”
Manasseh was taken prisoner by invading Assyrians. Manasseh prayed and asked God to forgive him. He was released and restored to being king of Judah. Manasseh removed all the idolatrous objects from the temple and all the other surrounding areas were cleared of idols and altars to false gods.
verse 18 The rest of the acts of Manasseh, his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel, can be found written in the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

Prayer for a strong faith:  Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.   Thy kingdom come, Thy Will by done on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Kingdom divided in two

After Solomon’s death the Kingdom of Israel was divided into two kingdoms because of fighting over who would be king.  So the northern kingdom of Israel encompassing 10 of the tribes was formed and the southern kingdom of Judah (and Benjamin) which encompassed Jerusalem and which carried on the lineage of King David.  In keeping with the theme of this blog, we are looking at scripture passages which mention in any way the Name of the LORD.  Our next entry comes from the king of Judah named Asa who ruled from 911 BC – 870 BC.  At one point a multitude of warriors from Ethiopia are threatening to overrun the kingdom and Jerusalem.  King Asa made a prayer to God before battling the million Ethiopians.  2 Chronicles 14:10 Asa called upon the LORD, his God, praying: “O LORD, there is none like You to help the powerless against the strong. Help us, O LORD, our God, for we rely on You, and in Your Name we have come against this multitude (Ethiopians invading Judah). You are the LORD, our God; let no man prevail against You.”    Asa and his army defeated the Ethiopians.

Solomon dedicates the Temple and the LORD responds

It took seven years for thousands of builders and artisans to build the Temple under Solomon’s leadership.   When it was completed, Solomon dedicated the Temple to the LORD with a lengthy prayer.  Some parts of Solomon’s prayer to God at the dedication of the temple are given which add to our treasury of posts praising His Holy Name.

See the source image
Solomon’s prayer to the LORD  2 Chronicles 6:24-25, 32-33
verses 24-25 “When Your people Israel have sinned against You and are defeated by the enemy, but afterward they return and praise Your Name, and they pray to You and entreat You in this temple, listen from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave them and their fathers. When the sky is closed so that there is no rain, because they have sinned against You, but then they pray toward this place and praise Your Name, and they withdraw from sin because You afflict them, listen in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and of Your people Israel. But teach them the right way to live, and send rain upon Your land which You gave Your people as their heritage.”
verses 32-33 “For the foreigner, too, who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a distant land to honor Your great Name, Your mighty Power, and Your outstretched Arm, when they come in prayer to this temple, listen from Your heavenly dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner entreats You, that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name, fearing You as do Your people Israel, and knowing that this house which I have built is dedicated to Your honor.”
God’s response to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple

See the source image
56. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, 16
Verses 13-14 “If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among My people, and if My people, upon whom My Name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek My presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.”
verse 16 “And now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My Name may be there forever; My Eyes and My Heart also shall be there always.”

David makes preparations for a Temple

In the last post, we read how David and the Levite priests went to acquire the Ark of the Covenant culminating with a celebration in Jerusalem and praise to God.  Later preparations were made to house the Ark in a permanent dwelling, a Temple for the Name of the LORD.

1 Chronicles 21:18-19 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad (a prophet) to tell David to go up and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David went up at Gad’s command, given in the Name of the LORD.

The LORD began to choose Temple leaders, namely the priests from the tribe of Levi and singers, gatekeepers, treasurers, and others.  1 Chronicles 23:13 The sons of Amram were Aaron and Moses. Aaron was set apart to be consecrated as most holy, he and his sons forever, to offer sacrifice before the LORD, to minister to Him, and to Bless His Name forever.

However, God told David that he wasn’t allowed to build the temple because of David’s history of involvement in war.  1 Chronicles 28: 2-3  King David rose to his feet and said: “Hear me, my kinsmen and my people. It was my purpose to build a house of repose myself for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the footstool for the feet of our God;  and I was preparing to build it.  But God said to me, You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man who waged wars and shed blood.

David ordered that materials be amassed for the temple construction.  There was gold, silver, onyx, carnelian,  marble, wood, iron and other precious stones that were acquired for the temple.  1 Chronicles 29:13, 29:16 part of David’s prayer in preparation for building the temple “Therefore, our God, we give You thanks and we praise the majesty of Your Name.” verse 16 “O LORD, our God, all this wealth that we have brought together to build You a house in honor of Your holy Name comes from You and is entirely Yours.”

This concludes our study of the Holy Name from 1 Chronicles.

David retrieves the neglected Ark

Entering into the Books of Chronicles. There are book 1 and book 2 of Chronicles. They are books that list events from the time of King Saul up to the time the Jews returned to Israel after their exile. You will read entries that have been presented before from the book of Samuel or the book of Kings because Chronicles are another source of information for us that has been compiled into the Bible.

During the time of King Saul’s reign, the Ark of the Covenant was neglected. Jews did not worship Our Lord as He deserved. After David became King, he sought to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusite people. With that conquest, David built homes for his wives and children in Jerusalem.  Then David remembered the Ark where the LORD’s Name resided.  He wanted to move the Ark of the Covenant from Judah where it had rested for twenty years to Jerusalem. In 1 Chronicles 13:3 David said, “…let us bring the ark of our God here among us, for in the days of Saul we did not visit it.”  He made plans to bring the Ark and consulted Levite priests on how to carry it to Jerusalem. The account of David bringing the ark into Jerusalem is given in two different biblical books: 2 Samuel chapter 6 and 1 Chronicles chapter 13-16  which indicates the great significance this event portended in worshiping the Name of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 13:6 David and all Israel went up to baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim, of Judah, to bring back the ark of God, which was known by the Name “LORD enthroned upon the cherubim.” David arranged for singers, chanters, and musicians to play on harps, lyres, brass cymbals, and trumpets to make a joyful sound of rejoicing for the Lord. In a robe of fine linen, David led the procession leaping, dancing and rejoicing in the Lord.

See the source image
1 Chronicles Chapter 16 verses 2-3, 7-10, 28-30, and 34-36  After the ark was set in place under the tent, peace offerings and holocausts were made to the Lord. David blessed the people in the Name of the Lord and he offered every man and woman, a loaf of bread, meat, and a raisin cake. Finally, he authorized the Levite priest to sing for the first time these praises to the Lord: Give thanks to the LORD, invoke His Name; make known among the nations His deeds. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
verses 28-30 Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; Give to the LORD the glory due His Name! Bring gifts, and enter His presence; worship the LORD in holy attire. Tremble before Him, all the earth; He has made the world firm, not to be moved.
verses 34-36 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His kindness endures forever; and say, “Save us, O God, our Savior, gather us and deliver us from the nations, That we may give thanks to Your Holy Name and glory in praising You. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, through all eternity! Let all the people say Amen! Alleluia.

1 Chronicles 17:21 David’s Thanksgiving “Is there, like Your people Israel, whom You redeemed from Egypt, another nation on earth whom a god went to redeem as his people? You won for Yourself a Name for great and awesome deeds by driving out the nations before Your people.

Today, our Ark of the Covenant is Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle in Catholic Churches.  Let us visit Him and pray.

PRAYER FOR A VISIT TO THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

My Lord Jesus Christ, Who for the love which You bear to men, remain night and day in this Sacrament full of compassion and of love, waiting, calling and welcoming all who come to visit You; I believe that You are truly present in the Sacrament of the altar.

I adore You humbly, and I thank You for all the graces which You have bestowed upon me; in particular for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given me Your most holy Mother Mary as my mediatrix and for having called me to visit You in this church.

I salute Your most loving Heart, and this for three purposes: first, in thanksgiving for this great gift; secondly, to make amends to You for all the outrages which You receive in this Sacrament from all Your enemies; thirdly, to adore You, by this visit, in all the places on earth in which You are present in this Sacrament and in which You are least revered and most abandoned.

My Jesus I love You with my whole heart!

I grieve for having so often offended Your infinite goodness. I promise, by Your grace, never more to offend You and, as unworthy as I am, I consecrate myself to You completely; renouncing my entire will, my affections, my desires, and all that I possess. Do with me as You please and whatever You please with all that I have.

All that I ask and desire of You is Your holy love, final perseverance, and the perfect accomplishment of Your will. I entrust to You the souls in purgatory, especially those who had the greatest devotion to You in the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the most Blessed Virgin Mary. I also recommend to You all poor sinners.

Finally, dear Savior, I unite all my affections with those of Your most loving Heart and I offer them, thus united, to Your Eternal Father, beseeching Him in Your Name because of Your love, to accept them and to grant my petitions.

Amen.

Two Kings

This post from 2 Kings is about two different Kings, one bad and one good.  Keeping in mind that King David reigned about 1000 years before Jesus Christ was born helps in understanding the period of time of the books of Kings. After King Solomon died, the Kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms. There was the Kingdom of Judah (and Benjamin) which contained Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Israel which contained the ten northern tribes. Each kingdom had a king, some were good but the majority were not. Several of the kings had a man of God, a prophet, to help the king make good decisions for the kingdom.
The following entry is about the 13th king of Judah whose name was Manasseh. He reigned for 55 years from 687 BC to 642 BC and he was very corrupt.
2 Kings 21: 6-7 He (Manasseh) immolated his son by fire. He practiced soothsaying and divination, and reintroduced the consulting of ghosts and spirits. He did much evil in the LORD’s sight and provoked Him to anger. The asherah idol he made, he set up in the temple, of which the LORD had said to David and to his son Solomon: “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I shall place My Name forever.”
King Josiah 640 BC to 608 BC, king of Judah
2 Kings 23:27 Josiah abolished all idolatry throughout Judah but the LORD said: “Even Judah will I put out of My sight as I did Israel. I will reject this city, Jerusalem, which I chose, and the temple of which I said, ‘There shall My Name be.’

Prophet Elisha

The next entry regarding the Name of the LORD comes from an instance in the life of the Prophet Elisha.  If you remember, the Prophet Elisha was the protégé of the Prophet Elijah.  Elijah had spent his life telling the people about the true God and to turn away from the worship of baal.  At the end of his witness, Elijah was taken up in a fiery chariot to Heaven.  He did not experience a bodily death, rather he was taken up and in doing this his mantle fell to Elisha who took on the role of prophet that Elijah left to him.

We read in 2 Kings 2:23-25 The Prophet Elisha’s curse
From there Elisha went to Bethel. While he was on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. “Go up, baldhead,” they shouted, “go up, baldhead!” The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the Name of the LORD. Then two she bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the children to pieces. From there he went to Mount Carmel and thence he returned to Samaria.

The ‘small boys’ the passage speaks about may have been teenagers who had assembled to mock a prophet of God.  When they taunted him by calling him bald,  they were mocking his prophetic office because a shaved head denoted his dedication to the LORD as His prophet.  Also, they were chanting ‘go up’ which referred to how previously the Prophet Elijah had been taken to Heaven in a fiery chariot.  As the news of that miracle had probably spread far, even to these youths in Bethel which was a city full of idolatry, their contempt of the Prophet Elisha and his words prompted them to taunt him and tell him to go away, so to speak, because they wanted nothing to do with talk of God or His prophet.

The youth were cursed in the Name of the LORD because to ridicule Elisha was to ridicule the LORD Himself. The seriousness of the crime was indicated by the seriousness of the punishment as a warning to all who would scorn the prophets of the Lord.