The Angel Raphael. 1Then Tobiah replied to his father Tobit: “Everything that you have commanded me, father, I shall do. 2But how will I be able to get that money from him, since he does not know me, and I do not know him? What sign can I give him so that he will recognize and trust me, and give me the money? I do not even know the roads to Media, in order to go there.” 3Tobit answered his son Tobiah: “He gave me his bond,* and I gave him mine; I divided his into two parts, and each of us took one part; I put one part with the money. It is twenty years since I deposited that money! So, son, find yourself a trustworthy person who will make the journey with you, and we will give him wages when you return; but bring back that money from Gabael while I am still alive.”
4Tobiah went out to look for someone who would travel with him to Media, someone who knew the way. He went out and found the angel Raphael standing before him (though he did not know* that this was an angel of God).a 5Tobiah said to him, “Where do you come from, young man?” He replied, “I am an Israelite, one of your kindred. I have come here to work.” Tobiah said to him, “Do you know the way to Media?” 6“Yes,” he replied, “I have been there many times. I know the place well and am acquainted with all the routes. I have often traveled to Media; I used to stay with our kinsman Gabael, who lives at Rages in Media. It is a good two days’ journey from Ecbatana to Rages,* for Rages is situated in the mountains, but Ecbatana is in the middle of the plain.” 7Tobiah said to him, “Wait for me, young man, till I go in and tell my father; for I need you to make the journey with me. I will pay you your wages.”b 8He replied, “Very well, I will wait; but do not be long.”
9Tobiah went in and informed his father Tobit: “I have found someone of our own Israelite kindred who will go with me!” Tobit said, “Call the man in, so that I may find out from what family and tribe he comes, and whether he is trustworthy enough to travel with you, son.”
10Tobiah went out to summon him, saying, “Young man, my father is calling for you.” When Raphael entered the house, Tobit greeted him first. He replied, “Joyful greetings to you!” Tobit answered, “What joy is left for me? Here I am, a blind man who cannot see the light of heaven, but must remain in darkness, like the dead who no longer see the light! Though alive, I am among the dead. I can hear people’s voices, but I do not see them.” The young man said, “Take courage! God’s healing is near; so take courage!” Tobit then said: “My son Tobiah wants to go to Media. Can you go with him to show him the way? I will pay you your wages, brother.” He answered: “Yes, I will go with him, and I know all the routes. I have often traveled to Media and crossed all its plains so I know well the mountains and all its roads.” 11Tobit asked him, “Brother, tell me, please, from what family and tribe are you?” 12He replied, “Why? What need do you have for a tribe? Aren’t you looking for a hired man?” Tobit replied, “I only want to know, brother, whose son you truly are and what your name is.”c
13He answered, “I am Azariah,* son of the great Hananiah, one of your own kindred.” 14Tobit exclaimed: “Welcome! God save you, brother! Do not be provoked with me, brother, for wanting to learn the truth about your family. It turns out that you are a kinsman, from a noble and good line! I knew Hananiah and Nathan, the two sons of the great Shemeliah. They used to go to Jerusalem with me, where we would worship together. They were not led astray; your kindred are good people. You are certainly of good lineage. So welcome!”
15Then he added: “For each day I will give you a drachma as wages,* as well as expenses for you and for my son. So go with my son, and 16I will even add a bonus to your wages!” The young man replied: “I will go with him. Do not fear. In good health we will leave you, and in good health we will return to you, for the way is safe.” 17Tobit said, “Blessing be upon you, brother.” Then he called his son and said to him: “Son, prepare whatever you need for the journey, and set out with your kinsman. May God in heaven protect you on the way and bring you back to me safe and sound; may his angel accompany you for your safety, son.”
Tobiah left to set out on his journey, and he kissed his father and mother. Tobit said to him, “Have a safe journey.” 18But his mother began to weep and she said to Tobit: “Why have you sent my child away? Is he not the staff of our hands, as he goes in and out before us? 19Do not heap money upon money! Rather relinquish it in exchange for our child! 20What the Lord has given us to live on is certainly enough for us.” 21Tobit reassured her: “Do not worry! Our son will leave in good health and come back to us in good health. Your own eyes will see the day when he returns to you safe and sound. So, do not worry; do not fear for them, my sister.* 22For a good angel* will go with him, his journey will be successful, and he will return in good health.” 1Then she stopped weeping.
* [5:3] Bond: a document called in Greek cheirographon. In the Middle Ages, notably in England, a deed and its duplicate were written on one piece of parchment, with the Latin word chirographum inscribed across the top of the sheet or between the two copies of the text. The document was then cut in two in either a straight or a wavy line, the parts being given to the persons concerned. Perhaps this procedure was derived from the present verse of Tobit. Duplicate documents, usually one part open and the other sealed, are well known from the ancient Near East.
* [5:4] He did not know: the theme of an angel in disguise occurs frequently in folklore as well as in the Old Testament (Gn 18; cf. Heb 13:2).
* [5:6] It is a good two days’ journey from Ecbatana to Rages: Alexander’s army took eleven days in forced marches to cover this distance, about 180 miles. (See notes on 1:15; 3:7 and Introduction.)
* [5:13–14] Azariah, “Yhwh has helped”; Hananiah, “Yhwh has shown mercy”; Nathan is a shortened form of Nathaniah, “Yhwh has given”; Shemeliah may be a Greek corruption of the Hebrew name, Shemaiah, “Yhwh has heard.”
* [5:15] A drachma as wages: the normal wages, about seventeen cents, a day’s wage for a laborer.
* [5:21] My sister: “sister” was a term of endearment used in antiquity even for one’s wife; similarly “brother” for one’s husband. Cf. 7:11, 15; 8:4, 21; 10:6, 13; Sg 4:9–10, 12; 5:1–2.
* [5:22] A good angel: a reference to a guardian angel, though Tobit does not know, of course, that Raphael himself, disguised as Azariah, is the good angel in this case.