1Then sad at heart, I groaned and wept aloud. With sobs I began to pray:*
Tobit’s Prayer for Death
2“You are righteous, Lord,
and all your deeds are just;
All your ways are mercy and fidelity;
you are judge of the world.a
3And now, Lord, be mindful of me
and look with favor upon me.
Do not punish me for my sins,
or for my inadvertent offenses,
or for those of my ancestors.b
“They sinned against you,
4and disobeyed your commandments.
So you handed us over to plunder, captivity, and death,
to become an object lesson, a byword, and a reproach
in all the nations among whom you scattered us.c
5“Yes, your many judgments are right
in dealing with me as my sins,
and those of my ancestors, deserve.
For we have neither kept your commandments,
nor walked in fidelity before you.
6“So now, deal with me as you please;
command my life breath to be taken from me,
that I may depart from the face of the earth and become dust.
It is better for me to die than to live,*
because I have listened to undeserved reproaches,
and great is the grief within me.d
“Lord, command that I be released from such anguish;
let me go to my everlasting abode;
Do not turn your face away from me, Lord.
For it is better for me to die
than to endure so much misery in life,
and to listen to such reproaches!”
II. SARAH’S PLIGHT
Sarah Falsely Accused. 7* On that very day, at Ecbatana in Media, it so happened that Raguel’s daughter Sarah also had to listen to reproaches from one of her father’s maids. 8For she had been given in marriage to seven husbands, but the wicked demon Asmodeus* kept killing them off before they could have intercourse with her, as is prescribed for wives. The maid said to her: “You are the one who kills your husbands! Look! You have already been given in marriage to seven husbands, but you do not bear the name of a single one of them. 9Why do you beat us? Because your husbands are dead? Go, join them! May we never see son or daughter of yours!”
10That day Sarah was sad at heart. She went in tears to an upstairs room in her father’s house and wanted to hang herself. But she reconsidered, saying to herself: “No! May people never reproach my father and say to him, ‘You had only one beloved daughter, but she hanged herself because of her misfortune.’ And thus would I bring my father laden with sorrow in his old age to Hades. It is far better for me not to hang myself, but to beg the Lord that I might die, and no longer have to listen to such reproaches in my lifetime.”e
11At that same time, with hands outstretched toward the window,* she implored favor:
Sarah’s Prayer for Death
“Blessed are you, merciful God!
Blessed be your holy and honorable name forever!
May all your works forever bless you.f
12Now to you, Lord, I have turned my face
and have lifted up my eyes.
13Bid me to depart from the earth,
never again to listen to such reproaches.
14“You know, Master, that I am clean
of any defilement with a man.
15I have never sullied my own name
or my father’s name in the land of my captivity.
“I am my father’s only daughter,
and he has no other child to be his heir,
Nor does he have a kinsman or close relative
whose wife I should wait to become.
Seven husbands of mine have already died.
Why then should I live any longer?
But if it does not please you, Lord, to take my life,
look favorably upon me and have pity on me,
that I may never again listen to such reproaches!”
An Answer to Prayer. 16At that very time, the prayer of both of them was heard in the glorious presence of God. 17g So Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the white scales from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see with his own eyes God’s light; and to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, as a wife to Tobiah, the son of Tobit, and to rid her of the wicked demon Asmodeus. For it fell to Tobiah’s lot* to claim her before any others who might wish to marry her.
At that very moment Tobit turned from the courtyard to his house, and Raguel’s daughter Sarah came down from the upstairs room.
* [3:1] Pray: prayer is a significant theme, occurring at six major turning points in the story (3:2–6, 11–15; 8:5–8, 15–17; 11:14–15; 13:1–18).
* [3:6] It is better for me to die than to live: in his distress Tobit uses the words of the petulant Jonah (Jon 4:3, 8), who wished to die because God did not destroy the hated Ninevites. In similar circumstances, Moses (Nm 11:15), Elijah (1 Kgs 19:4), and Job (Jb 7:15) also prayed for death. Everlasting abode: a reference to Sheol, the dismal abode of the dead from which no one returns (Jb 7:9–10; 14:12; Is 26:14). See note on Tb 4:6.
* [3:7] From here on, the story is told in the third person. Verse 7 relates one of the several marvelous coincidences that the storyteller uses to suggest divine providence; see also vv. 16–17; 4:1; 5:4. Ecbatana: Hamadan in modern Iran; this was the capital of ancient Media. Raguel: the Greek form of the Hebrew name Re‘u’el, “friend of God.”
* [3:8] Asmodeus: in Persian aeshma daeva, “demon of wrath,” adopted into Aramaic with the sense of “the Destroyer.” It will be subdued (8:3) by Raphael (v. 17), whose name means “God has healed.”
* [3:11] Toward the window: that is, looking in prayer toward Jerusalem; cf. Dn 6:11. “Blessed are you” and “Blessed be God” are traditional openings of Jewish prayers (Tb 8:5, 15; 11:14; 13:1).
* [3:17] It fell to Tobiah’s lot: according to the patriarchal custom of marriage within the family group. Tobiah was Sarah’s closest eligible relative (6:12). Cf. 4:12–13; Gn 24:4; 28:2; Ru 3:9–12; 4:1–12.
a. [3:2] Ps 25:10; 119:137; Dn 3:27.
c. [3:4] Dt 28:15; Bar 1:16–22; 2:4–5; 3:8; Dn 9:5–6.
d. [3:6] Nm 11:15; 1 Kgs 19:4; Jb 7:15; Jon 4:3, 8.
e. [3:10] Tb 6:15; Gn 37:35; 42:38; 44:29, 31.
f. [3:11] 1 Kgs 8:44, 48; Ps 28:2; 134:2; Dn 6:11.
g. [3:17] Tb 4:12–13; 6:12–13; Gn 24:3–4.