The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Tobias
Soon after this, one of the Lord’s feast-days came round, and Tobias, his table richly spread,
would have his son go out and invite fellow-tribesmen and fellow-worshippers of theirs, to share the banquet.
Go out he did, but came back bearing ill news; he had found an Israelite lying murdered in the open street. His father, without more ado, sprang up from where he sat, leaving his dinner untasted; he would not break his fast till he had found the body,
wrapped it about and carried it home with him, to bury it in secret when night fell.
A sad and anxious meal was his, with such a guest hidden under his roof;
he remembered those words the Lord had put into the mouth of Amos, Your feast-days shall end in lamentation and sad thoughts.
Night fell at last, and the body was buried in safety;
but his neighbours shook their heads over it, Here was sentence of death passed on thee for such doings of thine; from that sentence thou wast barely reprieved, and art thou back at thy grave-digging?
But still Tobias feared God much, and the king little; still the bodies of murdered men were stolen away, hidden in his house, and at dead of night buried.
But toil brought weariness, and one morning, when he came home, he threw himself down in the shadow of the wall, and quickly fell asleep.
As he slept, warm droppings from a swallow’s nest fell into his eyes, and he became blind.
This was but a trial which the Lord allowed to befall him, so that he might leave to later ages, as God’s servant Job did, a document of patience.
Here was a man that had feared God and obeyed his commandments from infancy; he was smitten with blindness; did he thereupon complain, God was using him ill?
No, he remained as stout-hearted a worshipper of God as before, and never a day passed but he returned thanks for the gift of life.
Kinsman and clansman might taunt him, as Job was taunted by his fellow chieftains; might call him a fool for his pains,
and ask whether this was the reward he had hoped for when he gave alms, and went a-burying;
Tobias took them up short. Nay, said he, never talk thus;
we come of holy stock, you and I, and God has life waiting for us if we will but keep faith with him.
His wife Anna went every day to work at the loom, bringing home what earnings she could;
and one day it was a kid that was given her for her wages. When she brought this home,
and its bleating reached her husband’s ears, he made great ado for fear it had been stolen; Nay, he said, this must be restored to its owner; never shall it be said that we ate stolen food, or soiled our hands with theft!
Fine talk,✻ said she, but the like hopes have played thee false already; what hast thou to shew, now, for all thy almsgiving?
With such taunts as these even his wife assailed him.✻
The Holy Bible