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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on Tobit

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1.1–3.17 : Tobit's tale of his misfortunes.

His zealous efforts to live the Law earn him the persecution of the pagans and the jeers of the other Jews.

1.1–2 : Introduction.

1 :

Tobit: perhaps an abbreviated form of the Heb. Tobiah (Gk. Tobias, v. 9 ), meaning “the LORD is good.”

2 :

The tribe of Naphtali was deported to Assyria, not by Shalmaneser but by his predecessor, Tiglath-pileser III (745–727 B.C.E.); see 2 Kgs. 15.29 . Thisbe is located west-southwest of Lake Huleh in northern Palestine.

1.3–22 : Tobit's virtuous life in exile.

3 :

Nineveh: capital of Assyria.

4 :

The secession of the northern tribes from the dynasty of David (1 Kgs. ch. 12 ) took place about 922 B.C.E., 150 years before Tobit was born.

5 :

Mountains … bull-calf: see 1 Kgs. 12.28–31 .

6–8 :

Firstfruits … tithes: an idealized picture of Jewish piety; see Num. 18.12–13; Deut. 18.3–4 .

10 :

Gentile food: forbidden by the Law as unclean; see Deut. 14.3–21 .

13 :

Shalmaneser V: the successor of Tiglath-pileser III in 727 B.C.E.

14 :

Ten talents of silver: 3000 shekels of silver.

15 :

Shalmaneser V was followed by Sargon II (722–705 B.C.E.) and then only by Sennacherib (705–681 B.C.E.). Such historical inaccuracies suggest that the author intends, not history, but a story illustrative of Wisdom.

17 :

A dead body left unburied was considered a curse, a punishment for an evil life, that somehow affected the peace of the deceased. See 2 Kgs. 9.10; Jer. 8.2; Ecclus. 44.14 .

18 :

God brought judgement on Sennacherib at the siege of Jerusalem. See 2 Kgs. 19.35–36; Isa. 37.36–37 .

21 :

Two of his sons: see 2 Kgs. 19.37 . Ahikar, the hero of a popular ancient legend, was depicted as a wise and wealthy chancellor under several Assyrian kings. In the story he is said to have raised and educated a nephew, Nadab, who betrayed him. Eventually he was vindicated and the nephew was punished. Perhaps the author brings Ahikar into the story of Tobit because they were both tested by misfortune and finally restored to a happy state. See also 2.10; 11.18 ; and 14.10 , where their tribulations are further recorded.

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