Tobit, Book of
Tobit, Book of one of the deutero-canonical books of the Old Test., standing in most editions of the original between the Epistle of Jeremiah and. the Book of Judith, but in the A. V. between 2 Esdr. and Judith. It is chiefly interesting for the insight which it gives us into the superstitious notions of the Jews during the period of the Apocrypha.
I. Title. —In the Greek the book is called simply Tobit (Τωβίτ, Τωβείτ) in the old MSS. At a later time the opening words of the book, Βίβλος λόγων Τωβιτ, were taken as a title. In Latin MSS. it is styled Tobis, Liber Thobis, Liber Tobic (Sabatier, p. 706), Tobit et Tobias, Liber utriusque Tobice (Fritzsche, Einleit. § 1). In the A. V. it is superscribed "The book of the words of Tobit, etc., who, in the time of Eiemessar (Shalmaneser), king of the Assyrians, was led captive out of Thisbe, which is at the right hand of Kydios of Nephthalim in Galilee, above Aser." The word Tobit is probably a Hebrew form טוֹבית, signifying goodness, a name very appropriate in a narrative of virtue suffering, yet rewarded.
II. Design and Contents. — The object of this book is to show that God, in his mysterious providence, permits sore calamities to befall the most pious and God-fearing in the very act of, and apparently for, obeying his commandments, but that he at the same time exercises a special care over them in the midst of their sufferings, vouchsafes them a happy issue out of all their trials, and holds them up to the world at large as patterns of patience under tribulations, as such who have been deemed worthy of being tried and purified, and who have demonstrated that the effectual and fervent prayer of a "righteous man availeth much." The method adopted by the writer for working out this design will be seen from the following analysis of the book itself.