1Thus under King Esarhaddon I returned to my home, and my wife Anna and my son Tobiah were restored to me. Then on our festival of Pentecost, the holy feast of Weeks,* a fine dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat.a 2The table was set for me, and the dishes placed before me were many. So I said to my son Tobiah: “Son, go out and bring in whatever poor person you find among our kindred exiled here in Nineveh who may be a sincere worshiper of God to share this meal with me. Indeed, son, I shall wait for you to come back.”*
3Tobiah went out to look for some poor person among our kindred, but he came back and cried, “Father!” I said to him, “Here I am, son.” He answered, “Father, one of our people has been murdered! He has been thrown out into the market place, and there he lies strangled.” 4I sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched, carried the dead man from the square, and put him in one of the rooms until sundown, so that I might bury him. 5I returned and washed* and in sorrow ate my food.b 6I remembered the oracle pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel:c
“I will turn your feasts into mourning,
and all your songs into dirges.”
7Then I wept. At sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him.
8My neighbors mocked me, saying: “Does he have no fear? Once before he was hunted, to be executed for this sort of deed, and he ran away; yet here he is again burying the dead!”
Tobit’s Blindness. 9That same night I washed and went into my courtyard, where I lay down to sleep beside the wall. Because of the heat I left my face uncovered. 10I did not know that sparrows were perched on the wall above me; their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing white scales* on them. I went to doctors for a cure, but the more they applied ointments, the more my vision was obscured by the white scales, until I was totally blind. For four years I was unable to see, and all my kindred were distressed at my condition. Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, until he left for Elam.
11At that time my wife Anna worked for hire at weaving cloth, doing the kind of work women do. 12When she delivered the material to her employers, they would pay her a wage. On the seventh day of the month of Dystrus,* she finished the woven cloth and delivered it to her employers. They paid her the full salary and also gave her a young goat for a meal. 13On entering my house, the goat began to bleat. So I called to my wife and said: “Where did this goat come from? It was not stolen, was it? Give it back to its owners; we have no right to eat anything stolen!” 14d But she said to me, “It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.” Yet I would not believe her and told her to give it back to its owners. I flushed with anger at her over this. So she retorted: “Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your righteous acts? Look! All that has happened to you is well known!”*
* [2:1] Feast of Weeks: also called by its Greek name, Pentecost, was celebrated fifty days after the Passover. Cf. Lv 23:15–21; Dt 16:9–12.
* [2:2] Almsgiving and charity to the poor are important virtues taught by the book (4:7–11, 16–17; 12:8–9; 14:10–11). A sincere worshiper of God: lit., “who is mindful of God with the whole heart.”
* [2:5] Washed: because of ritual defilement from touching a corpse (Nm 19:11–13).
* [2:10] White scales: or white films. A primitive way of describing an eye ailment that results in blindness. Elam: or in Greek, Elymais, an ancient district northeast of the head of the Persian Gulf.
* [2:12] Seventh day of the month of Dystrus: late in winter. The Macedonian month Dystros corresponds to the Jewish month of Shebat (January–February). A meal: lit., “for the hearth”; the gift had probably been made in view of some springtime festival like the Jewish Purim.
* [2:14] Anna’s sharp rebuke calls to mind the words of Job’s wife (Jb 2:9).
a. [2:1] Lv 23:15–21; Nm 28:26–31; Dt 16:9–12.