The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Almsgiving as the theme of Tobit

Tobit died in peace when he was one hundred and twelve years old, and was buried with great honour in Nineveh. He was sixty-two years old when he lost his eyesight, and after regaining it he lived in prosperity, giving alms and continually blessing God and acknowledging God’s majesty.

Opening the final chapter of Tobit is yet another reminder of the importance of alms-giving for righteous living. Indeed, if pressed to summarize Tobit, I would say "God favors those who give alms." It seems to be the thread running throughout the book which explains why God's fortune came to Tobit through all the misery.

I'll wind up my experience reading Tobit with a couple more observations:

  • The author of Tobit uses a literary form where he tells the result of the story in brief and then returns to fill in the detail. For example at the end of chapter 3 it reveals how Raphael is sent to restore vision to Tobit and to free Sarah from the demon. I have not observed this technique elsewhere in the scriptures.
  • At the end of the story, Tobit references Nahum's prophesied destruction of Nineveh. That is somewhat remarkable since there is not much cross-reference among the Hebrew prophets.