December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Grief-stricken in spirit, I groaned and wept aloud. Then with sobs I began to pray:
- "You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just; All your ways are mercy and truth; you are the judge of the world.
- And now, O Lord, may you be mindful of me, and look with favor upon me. Punish me not for my sins, nor for my inadvertent offenses, nor for those of my fathers. "They sinned against you,
- and disobeyed your commandments. So you handed us over to plundering, exile, and death, till we were an object lesson, a byword, a reproach in all the nations among whom you scattered us.
- "Yes, your judgments are many and true in dealing with me as my sins and those of my fathers deserve. For we have not kept your commandments, nor have we trodden the paths of truth before you.
- 1 "So now, deal with me as you please, and command my life breath to be taken from me, that I may go from the face of the earth into dust. It is better for me to die than to live, because I have heard insulting calumnies, and I am overwhelmed with grief. "Lord, command me to be delivered from such anguish; let me go to the everlasting abode; Lord, refuse me not. For it is better for me to die than to endure so much misery in life, and to hear these insults!"
- 2 On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media, it so happened that Raguel's daughter Sarah also had to listen to abuse, from one of her father's maids.
- 3 For she had been married to seven husbands, but the wicked demon Asmodeus killed them off before they could have intercourse with her, as it is prescribed for wives. So the maid said to her: "You are the one who strangles your husbands! Look at you! You have already been married seven times, but you have had no joy with any one of your husbands.
- Why do you beat us? Because your husbands are dead? Then why not join them! May we never see a son or daughter of yours!"
- That day she was deeply grieved in spirit. She went in tears to an upstairs room in her father's house with the intention of hanging herself. But she reconsidered, saying to herself: "No! People would level this insult against my father: 'You had only one beloved daughter, but she hanged herself because of ill fortune!' And thus would I cause my father in his old age to go down to the nether world laden with sorrow. It is far better for me not to hang myself, but to beg the Lord to have me die, so that I need no longer live to hear such insults."
- 4 At that time, then, she spread out her hands, and facing the window, poured out this prayer: "Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God! Forever blessed and honored is your holy name; may all your works forever bless you.
- And now, O Lord, to you I turn my face and raise my eyes.
- Bid me to depart from the earth, never again to hear such insults.
- "You know, O Master, that I am innocent of any impure act with a man,
- And that I have never defiled my own name or my father's name in the land of my exile. "I am my father's only daughter, and he has no other child to make his heir, Nor does he have a close kinsman or other relative whom I might bide my time to marry. I have already lost seven husbands; why then should I live any longer? But if it please you, Lord, not to slay me, look favorably upon me and have pity on me; never again let me hear these insults!"
- At that very time, the prayer of these two suppliants was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God.
- 5 So Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the cataracts from Tobit's eyes, so that he might again see God's sunlight; and to marry Raguel's daughter Sarah to Tobit's son Tobiah, and then drive the wicked demon Asmodeus from her. For Tobiah had the right to claim her before any other who might wish to marry her.In the very moment that Tobit returned from the courtyard to his house, Raguel's daughter Sarah came downstairs from her room.
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1  It is better for me to die than to live: in his distress Tobit uses the words of the petulant Jonah (Jonah 4:3, 8), who wished to die because God did not destroy the hated Ninevites. In similar circumstances, Moses (Numbers 11:15), Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), and Job (Job 7:15) also prayed for death. Everlasting abode: a reference to Sheol, the dismal abode of the dead from which no one returns (Job 7:9-10; 14:12; Isaiah 26:14). The revelation of a blessed immortality had not yet been made. See note on Tobit 4:6.
2  From here on, the story is told in the third person. Tobit 3:7 relates one of the several marvelous coincidences which the story teller uses to heighten interest; see also Tobit 3:16, 17; 4:1; 5:4. Ecbatana: Hamadan in modern Iran; this was the capital of ancient Media. Raguel: "friend of God."
3  Asmodeus: in Persian aeshma daeva, "demon of wrath," adopted into Aramaic with the sense of "the Destroyer." He will be subdued (Tobit 8:3) by Raphael (Tobit 3:17) "God heals."
4  Facing the window: that is, looking toward Jerusalem; cf Daniel 6:11: Blessed are you and "Blessed be God" are traditional openings of Jewish prayers (Tobit 8:5, 15; 11:14; 13:1).
5  Tobiah had the right: according to the patriarchal custom of marriage within the family group. Tobiah was Sarah's closest eligible relative (Tobit 6:12). Cf Tobit 4:12-13; Genesis 24.
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