First impression? It’s not a ‘modern’ story. In a modern tale, we’d have a movie with much more about the fight between Raphael and Asmodeus. First, the dog would have a much larger part. Perhaps it would jump in the river and scare the fish, which would jump into Tobias’ hands? For the battle scene: When Tobias and Sarah enter their honeymoon suite he starts to put the fish’s heart and liver on the burning censer. They have a ‘discussion’ about the entrails of the fish and that they already stink. Sarah embraces Tobias and he turns his attention to her. We see the fish entrails dangling out of his left hand as his right hand caresses her. Asmodeus is hiding in the curtains with an evil grin on his face. Then the entrails drop from Tobias’ hand onto the censer. As the honeymooners are snuggled together on the bed, Asmodeus creeps toward them with his demonic sword, posed to kill Tobias. The smoke from the censer, colored vividly, rises up, winding and twirling around the demon. The demon’s theme music becomes the smoke’s theme music. As the smoke twirls around Asmodeus, he does a dance of anguish, as if the smoke burned him. Then Asmodeus flies up through the roof of the house in an attempt to escape the smoke. Raphael, who is waiting on the roof for the demon, draws his mighty sword and attacks the demon. Their battle, in the sky above the house, is seen as a horrendous thunderstorm, lightning flashing when their swords meet. Asmodeus hides in a some clouds to escape Raphael. He flees to Egypt where a ferocious battle thrills us. Perhaps other angels and demons get involved? That’s up to the director…
Perhaps this could happen in a Frank Peretti novel? The focus of Scripture, even Apocryphal Scripture, is neither man, nor angel nor demon. The focus is always on God, on what He has done and is doing and will do. And that is why I finally abandoned the idea of rewriting Tobit as a story. The story, as it is written, is marvelous. The focus is on how Tobit serves God and how God rewards him for his unwavering faith. Still…it would be fun to write a modern version of the story. Maybe, one day, the Holy Spirit will let me? Or, maybe, He has someone else in mind to do that?
Speaking of that focus, let’s consider some ‘inconsistencies’ between Tobit and History. Here’s an example, a detail that bothered me until I did the research: where is Sargon II? First, as I just pointed out, the focus is not on human history or human activity. So, just as St. Luke gives us a reference so that we can approximate the date of Jesus’ birth, we don’t have all the details, but we have enough. Tobit tells us that Shalmanesser and Sennacherib were kings of Assyria. That’s true. The fact that Sargon II reigned between them is not mentioned. The story says, in chapter 2 verse 1 that Anna and Tobias were restored to Tobit during the reign of Esar-Haddon. So, that’s when the story takes place. According to Wikipedia, Esar-Haddon reigned from 681 to 669 BC. Tobit chapter 13 verse 2 says that Tobit’s blindness began when he was 62 years old. That means Tobit was about 20 years old when Assyria finished the conquest of Israel. So, Tobit would have accompanied his father and family to Jerusalem when he was a boy and young man. The math is 681+62=743. So, Tobit was born around 743 BC. (Remember that BC years are in reverse, the larger the number, the earlier the year.) The actual circumstances show that Tobit reveals the necessary details for us to understand when the story occurs. Sargon II is not mentioned because he is not important to the story.
The focus of the story is always on God and the relationship He has with His creation. Everything that happens, from who is king to a bird roosting above where Tobit is sleeping, everything happens to bring Glory to God. Some things seem doubtful, such as the golden calf. However, because of that idol, the pilgrimage Tobit’s family made to Jerusalem brought God more Glory. In addition, as I’m sure you have heard/read in many places, the deportation of Israel and Judah to Assyria and Babylon spread God-fearing men among the pagans. People like Tobit and Daniel learned that they could worship God no matter where they were; and, they could witness to the pagans.
Actually, the only “new information” in this story are the names of the angel and the demon. Everything else has already been told to all Israel by the prophets. Tobit is simply an example of how a man should act. He is a witness to the pagans around him and to us.
The ‘Greatest Commandment’ is to love God with all your heart and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. Do you think Tobit has this in mind?
This does not cover all of Tobit. It’s just a starting point. Your comments are a part of this. Tell us what you think.