Gift to the Community Ostracon

“Gift to the Community” Ostracon found at Qumran in 1996 by a volunteer on an expedition led by James F. Strange. It was translated by Frank Moore Cross and Ester Eshel.

“The Missing Link,” BAR Mar-Apr 1998.

Amy-Jill Levine,”Tobit,” Bible Review, (8:4), Aug 1992.


Rembrandt - Tobit Accusing Anna of Stealing the Kid (1626)

Rembrandt – Tobit Accusing Anna of Stealing the Kid (1626)

A mix of folktale and prayer, biblical themes and classical motifs, Tobit depicts a fantastic tale of Diaspora life. Containing an angel in disguise, a murderous demon, a magical fish and a young man on a journey to maturity, the Book of Tobit is not told simply to entertain. Rather, it provides carefully crafted instructions for how Jews should live in exile.

Although we can’t be sure when or where Tobit was written, internal evidence suggests the third century B.C.E. somewhere in Syria or Mesopotamia. Judging from its elements of folklore, it may have much older oral antecedents.

Like the stories of Daniel and Judith, it is backdated. Written during the Hellenistic period, it is set in the eighth century B.C.E. Placed in the Assyrian Diaspora where Jewish families are scattered and where the law of the land is not the Law of Moses, the Book of Tobit demonstrates how, through faith, pious deeds and a concern for regulating both marriages and the behavior of women, community identity can be preserved. Like its more popular neighbors in the Old Testament Apocrypha, Tobit shares with Judith, the Additions to Esther, the Maccabean books and the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) a concern for the problems of the Diaspora and a solution to the threat of assimilation in a Hellenistic world.

Read the rest of Tobit in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.

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