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2002 11 11
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Chapter 4


That same day Tobit remembered the money he had deposited with Gabael at Rages in Media, and he thought,


"Now that I have asked for death, why should I not call my son Tobiah and let him know about this money before I die?"


1 So he called his son Tobiah; and when he came, he said to him: "My son, when I die, give me a decent burial. Honor your mother, and do not abandon her as long as she lives. Do whatever pleases her, and do not grieve her spirit in any way.


Remember, my son, that she went through many trials for your sake while you were in her womb. And when she dies, bury her in the same grave with me.


"Through all your days, my son, keep the Lord in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments. Perform good works all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wrongdoing.


2 For if you are steadfast in your service, your good works will bring success, not only to you, but also to all those who live uprightly.


"Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God's face will not be turned away from you.


Son, give alms in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, distribute even some of that. But do not hesitate to give alms;


you will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity.


Almsgiving frees one from death, and keeps one from going into the dark abode.


Alms are a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who give them.


"Be on your guard, son, against every form of immorality, and above all, marry a woman of the lineage of your forefathers. Do not marry a stranger who is not of your father's tribe, because we are sons of the prophets. My boy, keep in mind Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our fathers from of old: all of them took wives from among their own kinsmen and were blessed in their children. Remember that their posterity shall inherit the land.


Therefore, my son, love your kinsmen. Do not be so proudhearted toward your kinsmen, the sons and daughters of your people, as to refuse to take a wife for yourself from among them. For in such arrogance there is ruin and great disorder. Likewise, in worthlessness there is decay and dire poverty, for worthlessness is the mother of famine.


"Do not keep with you overnight the wages of any man who works for you, but pay him immediately. If you thus behave as God's servant, you will receive your reward. Keep a close watch on yourself, my son, in everything you do, and discipline yourself in all your conduct.


Do to no one what you yourself dislike. Do not drink wine till you become drunk, nor let drunkenness accompany you on your way.


"Give to the hungry some of your bread, and to the naked some of your clothing. Whatever you have left over, give away as alms; and do not begrudge the alms you give.


3 Be lavish with your bread and wine at the burial of the virtuous, but do not share them with sinners.


"Seek counsel from every wise man, and do not think lightly of any advice that can be useful.


4 At all times bless the Lord God, and ask him to make all your paths straight and to grant success to all your endeavors and plans. For no pagan nation possesses good counsel, but the Lord himself gives all good things. If the Lord chooses, he raises a man up; but if he should decide otherwise, he casts him down to the deepest recesses of the nether world. So now, my son, keep in mind my commandments, and never let them be erased from your heart.


"And now, son, I wish to inform you that I have deposited a great sum of money with Gabri's son Gabael at Rages in Media.


Do not be discouraged, my child, because of our poverty. You will be a rich man if you fear God, avoid all sin, and do what is right before the Lord your God."



1 [3] (3-19) A collection of maxims which parallel those in the wisdom literature, especially Prov and Sirach (see Introduction): duties toward parents ( Tobit 4:3-4); cf also Tobit 14:13; perseverance in virtue and avoidance of evil ( Tobit 4:5, 6, 14b); necessity and value of almsgiving and charity ( Tobit 4:7, 11, 16, 17); marriage to a kinsman ( Tobit 4:12, 13a); industry ( Tobit 4:13b); prompt payment of wages ( Tobit 4:14a); the golden rule ( Tobit 4:15a); temperance ( Tobit 4:15b); docility ( Tobit 4:18); prayer ( Tobit 4:19).

2 [6] Before the revelation of retribution for all men in the afterlife-a doctrine taught in the Book of Wisdom-Old Testament man believed that virtue guaranteed earthly prosperity, and sin earthly disaster (cf Deut 28).

3 [17] Tobit counsels his son either to give alms in honor of the dead, or, more probably, to give the "bread of consolation" to the family of the deceased. Cf Jeremiah 16:7; Ezekiel 24:17.

4 [19] Prayer is the foundation of a moral life.

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