Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Tobias, “good God,” (Tirinus) is styled Tobis, by the ancient Latin version and St. Ambrose, and Tobit by the Greek and Syriac. These copies and the Hebrew give a genealogy which does not agree. (Calmet) — Grabe’s edition, “The book of the words (or transactions) of Tobit, Son of Tobiel, son of Ananiel, son of Adouel, (manuscript has Nave) son of Galael, (manuscript, Gamael) of the seed of Asiel, of the tribe of Nephthali, (2) who was made captive in the days of Enemessar, king of the Assyrians, from Thisbe, (manuscript, Thibe) which is on the right properly (manuscript, of Kudis; Haydock) or Cades, capital (Calmet) of Nephthali in Galilee, above Aser. I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and of justice all the days of my life.” (Haydock) — Nehemias and the prophets frequently speak of themselves in the first person. The truth of the history is the same. (Du Hamel) — Beyond, or behind; (post; Haydock) as the Hebrews speak with reference to a man turned towards the east. Hence this way would be on the west, and Sephet on the north.
Ver. 2. Salmanasar. When Osee was conquered, in the year of the world 3283. See 4 Kings xvii. 6. — Truth. His constancy in the observance of the true religion was so much the more wonderful, as he was rich, and lived among the wicked. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Kindred. Greek adds, “who went along with me….to Ninive.”
Ver. 4. Younger. “Very young,” (Haydock) or the youngest of those who administered their own affairs. The parents of Tobias were deceased. (Calmet) — Greek, “when I was young in my country, in the land of Israel, all the tribe,” &c.
Ver. 5. All, or the greatest part; (Haydock) for some still feared God; (chap. ii. 2.; Worthington) and the Greek of chap. v. 14 or 19 informs us that Ananias and Jonathan accompanied Tobias. (Haydock) — Greek is more diffuse. (Calmet) — (4) “All the tribe of Nephthali, of my father, departed from the house of Jerusalem, which city had been chosen from all the tribes of Israel, for all the tribes to offer sacrifice; and the temple of the tabernacle of the most High was sanctified, and was built for ever; (5) and all the tribes, apostatizing together, sacrificed to Baal, to the heifer; (Comp. ed., to the power of Baal) and the house of Nephthali, of my father, likewise. (6) And I alone went frequently to Jerusalem, at the feasts” (Haydock) of the Passover, &e. (Menochius) — The other versions are nearly similar. (Calmet) — But we cannot specify all these variations. (Haydock) — The number has induced some to conclude, not improbably, that there were two originals; (Tirinus) the Syriac by the elder, and the Chaldee by the younger Tobias. (Justiniani.) — But this is destitute of proof. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Strangers. See Deuteronomy xiv. 28., (Menochius) Leviticus xxvii. 30. (Calmet) — Greek, “And the third I gave to whom it belonged, as Debbora, my father’s mother, ordered me, as I was left an orphan by my father; (9) and when I was,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Man. The Jews married young: but the time was not fixed. (Calmet) — After. Greek, “Tobias.” They always style the father Tobit. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Ninive, called Ninus by Pliny, &c. (Menochius) — It was so large, as easily to receive a whole tribe, which was sold for slaves. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Meats, such as had been immolated to idols, (Menochius) or were forbidden to the Jews. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. And he. Greek, “I was his marketter,” (Haydock) to provide provisions for the palace. “He set me over all he had, till the day of his death.” (Munster.) — But this Hebrew author has probably exaggerated the matter, to make Tobias appear as great as he could. These editions add no more, continuing, (15) “And I went into Media, and I deposited with Gabael, or Gabelus,” &c.
Ver. 16. Rages means “rupture,” by frequent earthquakes, and was (Menochius; Calmet) the residence of the Parthian kings, in spring, (Athen. xii. 2.) in the mountain, separating their country from Media. — Honoured for his salary. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Money. People might formerly make use of what was merely deposited in their hands. (Ulpian.) — The old Latin version has, “I committed to him ten talents in gold.”
Ver. 18. Time. Salmanasar reigned fourteen years; seven after the captivity, which to people in distress would appear long. (Calmet) — Greek, “And after Enemessar was dead, Sennacherib, his son, reigned in his stead; and his ways ceased, (or his high roads were stopped) and I could no longer go into Media.” (Haydock) — We find nothing in history to confirm this stoppage: (Calmet) but it might be in consequence of the wars. (Houbigant) See the preface. (Haydock) — Israel. This hatred was augmented, after the unfortunate expedition into Palestine. (Calmet) (Menochius) (4 Kings xix. 35.)
Ver. 19. Goods, under Sennacherib; though he was now deprived of his place. (Calmet) — Greek, Syriac, and Hebrew insinuate, that this happened under his predecessor. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Slain, by order or connivance of Sennacherib. (Menochius) — Tobias buried the dead, out of charity, and the belief of a future resurrection. Hence arises the respect for tombs and the relics of the saints. (Calmet) — The pagans imagined that the souls could not rest till their bodies were interred. (Homer, Virgil vii., &c.) (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Loved him, even of the Assyrians. The Jews were not able to afford him shelter. (Menochius)
Ver. 24. Forty. Arabic, twenty-five; Greek and Syriac, fifty; other Greek copies, fifty-five days. Fagius says Tobias was hidden nineteen days. It seems, therefore, we should date these forty-five days from the return of Sennacherib. — Sons. See 4 Kings xix. 37., and Isaias xxxvii. 38. (Calmet) — Greek adds, “and they fled to the mountains of Ararat, and Sacherdoc, (our Assaraddon) his son, reigned in his stead; and he appointed Achiachar Anael, the son of my brother, over all the accounts of his kingdom, and over all his government. And Achiachar petitioned for me; and I came to Ninive. But Achiachar was cup-bearer, (Alexandrian manuscript, receiver of wine) and keeper of the ring, and governor and keeper of accounts; and Sacherdonosos gave him the second place. But he was my nephew. And when I returned to my house, and my wife Anna, and my son Tobias, were restored to me, at the feast of Pentecost,” &c. (Haydock) — This seems contrary to ver. 23. Yet the Hebrew copies agree in this particular, and mention the dignity of Akikar. But we may judge what credit these additions deserve. (Calmet) — They merit some attention, as they may be original. See Preface. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Tobias’s early piety: his works of mercy, particularly in burying the dead.
1 Tobias, of the tribe and city of Nephthali, (which is in the upper parts of Galilee, above Naason, beyond the way that leadeth to the west, having on the right hand the city of Sephet)
2 *When he was made captive in the days of Salmanasar, king of the Assyrians, even in his captivity, forsook not the way of truth,
3 But every day gave all he could get to his brethren, his fellow-captives, that were of his kindred.
4 And when he was younger than any of the tribe of Nephthali, yet did he no childish thing in his work.
5 Moreover, when all went to the golden calves, *which Jeroboam, king of Israel, had made, he alone fled the company of all,
6 And went to Jerusalem, to the temple of the Lord, and there adored the Lord God of Israel, offering faithfully all his first-fruits, and his tithes.
7 So that in the third year he gave all his tithes to the proselytes, and strangers.
8 These, and such like things did he observed when but a boy, according to the law of God.
9 But when he was a man, he took to wife, Anna, of his own tribe, and had a son by her, whom he called after his own name,
10 And from his infancy he taught him to fear God, and to abstain from all sin.
11 And when, by the captivity, he, with his wife, and his son, and all his tribe, was come to the city of Ninive,
12 (When all ate of the meats of the Gentiles) he kept his soul, and never was defiled with their meats.
13 And because he was mindful of the Lord with all his heart, God gave him favour in the sight of Salmanasar, the king.
14 And he gave him leave to go whithersoever he would, with liberty to do whatever he had a mind.
15 He, therefore, went to all that were in captivity, and gave them wholesome admonitions.
16 And when he was come to Rages, a city of the Medes, and had ten talents of silver of that with which he had been honoured by the king:
17 And when amongst a great multitude of his kindred, he saw Gabelus in want, who was one of his tribe, taking a note of his hand, he gave him the aforesaid sum of money.
18 But after a long time, Salmanasar, the king, being dead, *when Sennacherib, his son, who reigned in his place, had a hatred for the children of Israel:
19 Tobias daily went among all his kindren, and comforted them, and distributed to every one as he was able, out of his goods:
20 He fed the hungry, and gave clothes to the naked, and was careful to bury the dead, and they that were slain.
21 *And when **king Sennacherib was come back, fleeing from Judea, by reason of the slaughter that God had made about him for his blasphemy, and being angry, slew many of the children of Israel, Tobias buried their bodies.
22 But when it was told the king, he commanded him to be slain, and took away all his substance.
23 But Tobias fleeing naked away with his son, and with his wife, lay concealed; for many loved him.
24 *But after forty-five days, the king was killed by his own sons.
25 And Tobias returned to his house, and all his substance was restored to him.
2: 4 Kings xvii. 3. and xviii. 9.; Year of the World 3283, Year before Christ 721.
5: 3 Kings xii. 28.
18: Year of the World 3287.
21: 4 Kings xix. 35.; Ecclesiasticus xlviii. 24.; 2 Machabees viii. 19. — ** Year of the World 3294.
24: 4 Kings xix. 37.; 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 21.; Isaias xxxvii. 38.