Exploring Tobit (Ch.5)

Chapter 5:1-6

Tobias then answered and said, Father, I will do all things which thou hast commanded me: But how can I receive the money, seeing I know him not? Then he gave him the handwriting, and said unto him, Seek thee a man which may go with thee, whiles I yet live, and I will give him wages: and go and receive the money.

Therefore when he went to seek a man, he found Raphael that was an angel. But he knew not; and he said unto him, Canst thou go with me to Rages? and knowest thou those places well? To whom the angel said, I will go with thee, and I know the way well: for I have lodged with our brother Gabael.

I am immediately reminded of the series “Touched by an Angel” reading this verse. But in truth, it’s not the first time in Judaic history.  Probably the most well known time is when angels are sent into Sodom and Gomorrah to judge them.  One might look at this passage and immediately throw it out.  But I would encourage people to remember that in Hebrews 13:2 we are told: 

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Whether or not this story could be considered one of those incidents has yet to be seen.  For all we know, this story could be a much earlier version of “Touched by an Angel”.  

Chapter 5:7-12

Then Tobias said unto him, Tarry for me, till I tell my father. Then he said unto him, Go and tarry not. So he went in and said to his father, Behold, I have found one which will go with me. Then he said, Call him unto me, that I may know of what tribe he is, and whether he be a trusty man to go with thee. So he called him, and he came in, and they saluted one another.

Then Tobit said unto him, Brother, shew me of what tribe and family thou art. To whom he said, Dost thou seek for a tribe or family, or an hired man to go with thy son? Then Tobit said unto him, I would know, brother, thy kindred and name.

Then he said, I am Azarias, the son of Ananias the great, and of thy brethren. 

Admittedly, this is the point where I start to question the situation.  I’m sure many of us know that in Revelation 21:8, we are told that the liars have their place in the “Lake of Fire”.  And if it’s not Revelation that you recall, you may recall 1 Timothy 1:10, where liars are listed as one of the reasons the law was established.  So the question I have to ask here is…Doesn’t Raphael’s lie make him unholy?  And therefore this undermines the whole story?

As much as I want to easily take this passage and use it as a means to throw the whole story out the window, I’m reminded that God did, in fact, send a lying spirit amongst the prophets to persuade King Ahab to go into battle.  Even the prophet Micaiah, whom God entrusted the truth to, lied in front of King Ahab, until King Ahab insisted he tell the truth.  The narrative is too long to really include in here, but you can read the story yourself in 1 Kings 22:1-37

That said, King Ahab’s situation, and even that of Sodom and Gomorrah seem very different from each other.  In King Ahab’s case, he had done so much unrighteousness that God planned his demise.  And in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, it was an infiltration mission.  Furthermore, in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, if you read the Samaritan version, you find that the people in the cities knew full well who the angels were.  Nor do we ever see them falsifying their identities to Lot or his family.  So why did Raphael specify he was a son of Tobit’s friend?

I can think of stories where this happens outside of Christianity, such as folklore surrounding specific kinds of supernatural creatures.  The only one relating to a god I can think of, however, is in Arjuna’s Dilemma. This story comes from the Bhagavad Gita, and tells of how Krishna disguises himself as a human in order to help with the Arjuna’s war.  Later on in the story, he reveals himself to be the god Krishna and through the revelations Arjuna is given by Krishna, he decides to continue with the battle.  Knowing this, I’m suspicious…but let’s continue.

Chapter 5:13-16

Then Tobit said, Thou art welcome, brother; be not now angry with me, because I have enquired to know thy tribe and thy family; for thou art my brother, of an honest and good stock: for I know Ananias and Jonathas, sons of that great Samaias, as we went together to Jerusalem to worship, and offered the firstborn, and the tenths of the fruits; and they were not seduced with the error of our brethren: my brother, thou art of a good stock. But tell me, what wages shall I give thee? wilt thou a drachm a day, and things necessary, as to mine own son? Yea, moreover, if ye return safe, I will add something to thy wages.

So they were well pleased. Then said he to Tobias, Prepare thyself for the journey, and God send you a good journey. And when his son had prepared all things for the journey, his father said, Go thou with this man, and God, which dwelleth in heaven, prosper your journey, and the angel of God keep you company. So they went forth both, and the young man’s dog with them.

You know, Raphael was sent to clear up the whiteness in Tobit’s eyes…Why not just do that now, tell Tobit that Tobias has a journey ahead of him, and he’s going to take him on the journey?  Tobit has already shown that he is willing to accept God’s judgement at this point.  No other story in the Bible really has this convoluted of an exchange between an Angel of the Lord and the person receiving the message.  I mean, I get it, God’s ways are not my ways, but God does seem to have a distinct fingerprint in how he does things…am I missing something?

Chapter 5:17-22

But Anna his mother wept, and said to Tobit, Why hast thou sent away our son? is he not the staff of our hand, in going in and out before us? Be not greedy to add money to money: but let it be as refuse in respect of our child. For that which the Lord hath given us to live with doth suffice us. Then said Tobit to her, Take no care, my sister; he shall return in safety, and thine eyes shall see him. For the good angel will keep him company, and his journey shall be prosperous, and he shall return safe. Then she made an end of weeping.

I could take this in two different ways.  On the one hand, this seems to suggest that the concept of a “Guardian Angel” was present within the Second Temple timeframe.  Christ, himself, alludes to this idea in Matthew 18:10 –

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

On the other hand, maybe Tobit realized that Raphael was lying about his identity and understood he was actually an Angel of the Lord?  This second theory is hard for me to wrap my head around though, because Anna didn’t realize it and there is no narrative that lets us know that Tobit had this understanding.  It also seems like Tobit was acknowledging three persons: “Azarias”, God, and an Angel which he seems to have nothing more than faith is present.  Given that there is no real evidence to support that Tobit recognized Raphael as an angel, then my default is to believe that Tobit believed in the presence of a Guardian Angel.

And that’s an interesting thing unto itself.  In modern times, people believe that they can command the Angels.  Not long ago, I was given a CD to listen to where a Catholic spoke of a story about how he sent an angel out to make sure someone he loved was going to arrive safely.  Now, he admits that he didn’t actually see the Angel do so, but rather that he had faith the angel did.  Even in this scene where Tobit acknowledges the Angel, he’s not sending him out, but rather it illustrates that Tobit has faith that an angel will be with him.  At no time does it say that we command angels.  Judge them (1 Corinthian 6:2-3), yes, but even that seems to be a in regards to a future date, and not in the here and now.  I mean, seriously, your (and mine) test is still ongoing and won’t be complete until death.

Hebrews 9:27

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this is judgement.

Not even Jesus commanded the angels while in this life.  It is made abundantly clear that only the Father commanded them.

Matthew 26:53

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

I had actually intended to get through chapter 6 in this journal entry, but then I got on a tangent at the end.  So I think this more than enough for you to chew on today.  If you’re up for something to ponder, I think it would be worth considering how well you know the Bible itself.  There are 66 books, not including the Apocrypha we are working through, packed full of information that helps us know and understand God.  It’s a lot of information to take in too.  But without knowing and understanding these things, how could we possibly determine whether the being we have encountered is of God or of another being.  We want the truth to be that when we encounter God we’ll know for sure it is Him, but if you don’t know the difference it wouldn’t be hard to be fooled. Ezekiel and Christ both had teachings which pointed out how easy it is for us to convince ourselves of falsehoods.

Published by alethealeland

Author of "A Wicked & Adulterous Generation"

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