Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

The Story of Tobit

The wicked King of Judah, Ahaz, was succeeded by Hezekiah, his son, who "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord." He reopened and purified the temple, restored the worship of God, and called the people together to celebrate a grand Passover, the first which is mentioned since the time of Joshua.

On this solemn occasion, Hezekiah, the good king, publicly asked Godís pardon for all who had sinned; and he pulled down all the heathen idols and altars. He even ordered that the Brazen Serpent, which had been made by Moses, should be broken to pieces, because the people had now begun to worship this too.

Then, relying upon the help of the Lord, Hezekiah drove back the Philistines, and boldly refused to pay any more tribute to the Assyrians. Of course they were very angry when they heard that this Jewish king had thus tried to free himself from their power, and they soon came marching toward Palestine.

Hoshea, King of Israel at that time, followed Hezekiahís example; so the Assyrians came into his land, and made his people suffer so much that they were glad to get rid of the enemy by promising to pay the tribute. Not long after this, however, the Israelites revolted again, and this time the Assyrians besieged Samaria. They became masters of this city after a three years' siege, and carried off twenty-seven thousand, two hundred and eighty families into captivity.

Thus the kingdom of Israel came to an end, and the ten tribes which formed it were led away to Assyria, whence they never came back as a separate people.

As you know, there are many different kinds of churches; well, there are different kinds of Bibles, too. In some of them nothing more is said about the ten tribes, but in the others we are told that some of the captives went on worshiping God in their new homes. In these Bibles also we find the story of Tobit, which is so interesting that many pictures have been made of the scenes which it describes.

The story tells that Tobit, a good Israelite, lent all his money to his poorer brethren, until he had none left, and had to depend on his daily labor for bread. One day, during the noon hour, he lay down in the shadow of a wall to sleep.

Some birds, building their nest above him, let fall little pieces of lime, which dropped into Tobitís eyes and made him lose his sight. Blind now, and unable to work, Tobit called his young son Tobias, bidding him seek a guide, and journey to a distant province. Here the young man was to find an old friend of his father's, and collect from him a sum of money, loaned many years before.

Young Tobias found a guide at the city gates, and set out with him, not knowing that he was the angel Raphael in disguise. In the course of their journey, Tobias, while bathing in a river, was attacked by a monster fish. Helped by the angel, he not only escaped from all peril but also caught the fish. After taking the gall and gills, which by the angelís advice he carried with him, Tobias went on.



He finally reached the debtorís house, and not only collected the sum of money, but also married the manís daughter. This damsel had already been married seven times, but each one of her husbands had been killed on his wedding night by a demon who loved her.

By the angelís advice, Tobias burned the fish gills in the wedding chamber, and the smoke killed the jealous demon. Then Tobias joyfully went home, with his bride and with the money which he had gone to seek.

The angel Raphael, who had ever been at his side, now bade Tobias rub his fatherís eyes with the fish gall. Thus the pious old man got back his sight just in time to see the heavenly messenger resume his angelic form, and wing his way back to heaven, amid the adoring silence of the happy family whom he had befriended.