The Book of Tobit dates back more than 2500 years, to 700 BCE. It’s considered part of the apocrypha–a set of works that were written around the time of the later biblical works, but never made the cut to be included in the Jewish biblical canon.
Tobit, the story goes, is a gravedigger in Israel who becomes blinded by bird-droppings after he sleeps in the street–an experience which is, apparently, so painful that he prays for death. Instead, God dispatches the angel Raphael to help him.
Raphael encounters Tobit’s son, Tobias, and promises to introduce him to someone named Sarah–a woman who’s perfect for him, but whose seven previous husbands have all been possessed and killed by a demon. On the way to meet her, however, Tobias and his dog are attacked by a giant fish. Coincidentally, the organs of that fish are the very ingredients needed for a spell to drive away the husband-killing demon. Raphael teaches Tobias how to exorcise the demon, and Tobias and Sarah marry.
The couple returns home to find Sarah’s father digging a grave for Tobias, expecting another freshly-dead husband. Tobias informs them that the grave won’t be necessary–not for a good, long while. Finally, Raphael reveals his true identity to the couple, and tells Tobias that the fish’s last remaining organ, its gall bladder, will cure his father’s blindness.
Wild, we agree.
June 27, 2011