The story of Tobias is told in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament.
The book of Tobit is part of the Catholic Old Testament but is considered apocryphal by Protestants and does not form part of the Jewish canon.
It is an ancient writing and Aramaic and Hebrew fragments of the tale where found in Cave IV in Qumran in 1955.
Tobias was the only child of a blind, holy man, named Tobit, and his wife, Anna.
Tobit sent his young son Tobias on an errand to a distant land to collect monies that were owed to him.
As he started on his journey Tobias was met by the angel, Raphael, disguised as a man named, Azarias.
Tobias and the angel started on their way accompanied by Tobias’ dog…
They stopped the first night by the River Tigris and as Tobias went to wash his feet a monstrous fish came up and tried to devour him.
Tobias wrestled with the fish and managed to haul it out onto the dry land.
The angel told Tobias to cut out the heart, gall and liver of the fish and preserve them.
Tobias and the angel arrived at the house of a kinsman named Raguel who had a daughter named Sara, his only child.
Sara had been married seven times and all seven husbands had been killed by the demon of lust, Asmodeus, before any of the marriages were consummated.
The angel Raphael told Tobias that he should marry Sara.
On their wedding night Raphael instructed Tobias to place the heart of the fish over the hot coals of the fire which he did.
The smoke from the fish drove the demon away.
Raphael followed in pursuit of the fleeing demon, and upon catching him, bound him…
Tobias and Sara, along with Tobias’ dog, returned to Tobit and Anna.
Tobias anointed his father’s eyes with the gall of the fish and Tobit’s sight was restored.
Tobit and Tobias discussed what wages to give Azarias.
When Tobit and Tobais approached Azarias to tell him that they wanted to give him half of all they possessed Azarias revealed himself as the angel, Raphael, and explained that he had been sent to help because Tobit was such a holy man.
Tobit lived to one hundred and two years.
After his death, Tobias and Sara and their seven sons returned to the house of Sara’s parents.
“Tobias and the Angel” was a popular theme in art from the early Renaissance.
In paintings from this time, Tobias is generally depicted carrying a fish and accompanied by his small dog and the angel, Raphael.
This depiction gradually developed into the image of the “Guardian Angel”.
(Andrea del Verocchio’s workshop)