Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Words. Greek, “confession; (or hymn of praise) and he was 58 years old when he lost his sight, which he recovered eight years after, and gave alms, and continued to fear the Lord God, and to confess unto him. Now he arrived at a very advanced age,” 158, ver. 10. (Haydock) — But this chronology must be abandoned. All the versions disagree; and perhaps there may be none perfectly accurate. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Two. Arabic and Schol. History, read “twelve.”
Ver. 5. Seven. Greek Compl. and Alexandrian, as well as Fagius, have only “six.”
Ver. 6. The. Greek, “Son, take thy children. Behold, I am grown old, and my life is hastening to an end. Depart into Media, my son, for I believe all that the prophet, Jonas, spoke concerning Ninive, that it will be overturned. But in Media there will be more peace for a time, and that our brethren in the land will be scattered from the good land; and Jerusalem shall be deserted, and the house of God in it will be burnt, and shall be abandoned for a time; and they shall build the house, not like the former, till the times of the world or age be accomplished; and afterwards they shall return from the captives, and shall build Jerusalem gloriously; and the house of God shall be built in it, and the edifice shall be glorious for ever, as the prophets have spoken concerning it; and all the Gentiles shall turn truly to fear the Lord God, and shall undermine (and destroy) their idols; and all the Gentiles shall bless the Lord,” &c., ver. 9. (Haydock) — This text is of importance, as it specifies the name of Jonas, and is quoted by St. Jerome; (ibid.) though Nahum (iii. 8.) and Sophonias (ii. 13.) also foretold the destruction of Ninive. It speaks of the future, and not of the past ruin, of the temple, which certainly took place after the death of Tobias. (Calmet) — The prophets, however, frequently speak of future events, as if they were past, to shew the certainty of their predictions. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. In it. Let the Jews shew when this was accomplished. We can easily point out the nations converted from idolatry to the Church of Christ, as the prophets foretold, Jeremias iii. 17., and xvi. 19. (Calmet) — It cannot, therefore, be understood of the temporal Jerusalem. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. And. Greek, “And his people shall confess to God, and the Lord shall exalt his people, and all shall rejoice who love the Lord God in truth and justice, shewing mercy to our brethren. And now, son, depart from Ninive; for what the prophet, Jonas, spoke, shall surely be accomplished.” (Haydock) — This prediction was conditional, as was also the pardon of the people, who were justly punished for their relapse. (Menochius)
Ver. 10. Seek with diligence, not barely doing what you are commanded. (Haydock) — Greek is much more diffuse. (Calmet) — “But do thou keep the law and the ordinances, be a lover of alms-deeds, and just, that it may be well with thee. Bury me with decency, and thy mother with me, and tarry then no longer at Ninive. Son, behold what Aman (Syriac, Acab.) did to Achiachar, who fed him, how he conducted him from light into darkness, and what return he made him. Now, Achiachar met with safety: but he received his due, and he went down into darkness. Manasses gave alms, and was rescued from the snare of death, which was laid for him: but Aman fell into the snare, and perished. And now, son, behold the effects of alms-deeds, and how justice brings deliverance. While he was speaking these things, his soul failed upon the bed: but he was 150 years old, and he buried him honourably.” (Haydock) — The allusion to Aman seems improper, he lived many years after the captivity; (Calmet) or rather it may refer to some other history (Houbigant) with which we are not acquainted. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. And. Greek, “And when Anna, his mother, was dead; he buried her with his father. But Tobias departed with his wife and sons to Ecbatana, to Raguel, his father-in-law, and lived to an honourable old age; and he buried honourably his father and mother-in-law, and he inherited their substance, as well as that of his father, Tobit.” (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Fifth. Including himself. He might see the offspring of his great grandson, if he lived only 70 years after his marriage. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Nine. Syriac, 107. (Calmet) — Greek, “But he also died at the age of 127, at Ecbatana, of Media; and he heard, before his death, of the destruction of Ninive, the citizens of which Nabuchodonosor and Assuerus led captives; and he rejoiced over Ninive before he died.” We have been more particular in giving the Greek text of this book, because some look upon it as an original; and we should wish to lose no particle of the word of God, which is more precious than gold. Tobias might applaud the execution of divine justice without any private resentment. (Haydock) — Ninive was taken by Nabuchodonosor, who acted for his father, Nabopolassar, with whom Astyages, king of the Medes, was leagued. They took the city in the reign of Chinaladan, or Sarac, in the year of the world 3378. It also fell a prey to its enemies, under Sardanapalus, in the year 3257; as the inhabitants did not persevere in sentiments of repentance, which they had entertained at the preaching of Jonas, in the reign of Phul. Hence God revealed its destruction to Tobias. (Calmet) — With joy, may refer to the surviving friends, who rejoiced interiorly at his felicity, while they wept for their own loss; or it may he understood of the deceased; who, like his father, (ver. 4.; Calmet) rejoiced in the Lord, and in performance of good works.
Ver. 17. Kindred. Behold the influence of good example; (Haydock) and a proof that the true religion failed not in Israel, much less in Juda, or the Church of Christ. (Worthington) — The virtues of these two holy men are truly deserving of applause and imitation. They thought and acted in perfect conformity with the gospel. The father might represent the old law, under all its inconveniences, while the son holds forth the light of Christ, and banishes the devil. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Old Tobias dieth at the age of a hundred and two years, after exhorting his son and grandsons to piety, foreshewing that Ninive shall be destroyed, and Jerusalem rebuilt. The younger Tobias returneth with his family to Raguel, and dieth happily as he had lived.
1 And the words of Tobias were ended. And after Tobias was restored to his sight, he lived two and forty years, and saw the children of his grandchildren.
2 And after he had lived a hundred and two years, he was buried *honourably in Ninive.
3 For he was six and fifty years old when he lost the sight of his eyes, and sixty when he recovered it again.
4 And the rest of his life was in joy, and with great increase of the fear of God he departed in peace.
5 And at the hour of his death he called unto him his son, Tobias, and his children, seven young men, his grandsons, and said to them:
6 The destruction of Ninive is at hand: for the word of the Lord must be fulfilled: *and our brethren, that are scattered abroad from the land of Israel, shall return to it.
7 And all the land thereof, that is desert, shall be filled with people, and the house of God which is burnt in it, shall again be rebuilt: and all that fear God shall return thither.
8 And the Gentiles shall leave their idols, and shall come into Jerusalem, and shall dwell in it,
9 And all the kings of the earth shall rejoice in it, adoring the King of Israel.
10 Hearken, therefore, my children, to your father: serve the Lord in truth, and seek to do the things that please him:
11 And command your children that they do justice and alms-deeds, and that they be mindful of God, and bless him at all times in truth, and with all their power.
12 And now, children, hear me, and do not stay here: but as soon as you shall bury your mother, by me, in one sepulchre, without delay direct your steps to depart hence:
13 For I see that its iniquity will bring it to destruction.
14 And it came to pass, that after the death of his mother, Tobias departed out of Ninive with his wife, and children, and children’s children, and returned to his father and mother-in-law.
15 And he found them in health in a good old age: and he took care of them, and he closed their eyes: and all the inheritance of Raguel’s house came to him: and he saw his children’s children to the fifth generation.
16 And after he had lived ninety-nine years in the fear of the Lord, with joy they buried him.
17 And all his kindred, and all his generation continued in good life, and in holy conversation, so that they were acceptable, both to God, and to men, and to all that dwelt in the land.
2: Year of the World 3341, Year before Christ 663.
6: 1 Esdras iii. 8.