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
- Tobit’s ordeals (trouble with authorities, illness, wife’s mockery, despair)
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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!”
- 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.”
- 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.