When I trained as an art therapist I was given the story of Raphael and Tobias to paint in water colour as an exercise.   Up to that time I had never heard of Raphael and Tobias and had to look up the story in the Old Testament Apocrypha.  I was so impressed with the story that when I started my own art studio I named it the "Raphael Art Centre'.  Since that time I have always worked under this name even in my commercial endeavours and when I created my own puppet theatre. 





 The story of Raphael and Tobias.

This story is found in the Old Testament Apocrypha.

 

         


          Tobit lived in Nineveh with his wife, Anna and his son, Tobias in the time when the Israelites were in captivity there.   He was a serious and God fearing man who kept the Israelite law even when he was in captivity.  While there he would visit Rages in Media and on one of his visits he lent some money to his cousin, Gabael. 

           Many of the Israelites were killed in Nineveh and Tobit took it upon himself to bury the dead.  This would at times bring him into trouble.  One day at Pentecost he sat down with his family to celebrate and when he saw that there was plenty to eat he asked his son, Tobias to go out and bring whatever poor pious man of their brethren were there to share the meal with them.  When Tobias returned he reported that one of their people had been strangled.  Tobit went out to remove the body to a safe place and after washing returned to the meal.  The whole event saddened him. 

   After the family had eaten he went out to bury the body. 

   Afterwards feeling impure from the burial he slept next to the wall with his face uncovered. Some sparrows were on the wall and their droppings fell into Tobit's eyes so that he was blinded.

  There followed a sad time for him and although he went to physicians and did everything he could he could not find a cure for his blindness.  His blindness was a great burden to him especially as he was forced to inactivity.  His wife, Anna took work to help with the upkeep and one day she was given a kid by her employer.  When she returned home the kid began to bleat and Tobit accused her of stealing it.

         The fact that he could accuse his wife of theft and her distress made Tobit realize how distrustful he had become and how his temper had worsened.  This brought him into despair and he prayed to God that he could be released from his burdensome situation.

        At the same time a distant cousin, Sarah, who was of the same tribe  was also in great distress as she was possessed of a demon so that each time she married the groom was killed before the wedding could be comsumated.  She had already had seven husbands and the demon had slain them all.  People began to critisize her and she was deeply grieved and prayed for help and asked to be released from her sad state.

        God heard both prayers and sent his Archangel Raphael to help. 

          Tobit now decided to bring his affairs into order and he called Tobias to him and asked him to go to Rages and collect the fee that was owing to him.  He gave him direct instructions where to go and at the same time told him to go out into the street and find someone who would be willing to accompany him on his journey.  Tobias went out and found a man who professed to be a relation named Azarias.  Tobit was happy to let the stranger accompany Tobias and made a contract with him and the two set out together.  What Tobias did not realize was that the stranger was really the Archangel Raphael who was sent by God to help Tobit and Sarah. 

      As night drew on the two decided to camp by the side of the river.  When Tobias went down to the river to bath a fish leapt up at him and seemed about to swallow him. So large it was.  The angel instructed Tobias to catch the fish and when Tobias caught it the angel told him to cut it open and remove the liver, the heart and the gall much to his surprise.   They roasted the rest of the fish and ate it.

      As the two went on their way and approached Ecbatana where Sarah, the distant cousin lived Tobias asked the angel what the purpose of the liver, the heart and the gall was.  The angel then explained to Tobias that the liver and the heart was to chase away demons and evil spirits that gave trouble to anyone and the gall to cure blindness caused by white films on the eyes. Then the angel told Tobias that they would visit Sarah and her family and that it was destined that Tobias should marry Sarah.  Tobias was shocked and beset with anxiety as he had heard that Sarah was possessed by a demon and that anyone who married her died before the marriage could be consumated.  He was afraid that he would die and bring sorrow to his Father and Mother as a consequence.  The angel then assured him that as he was destined to marry Sarah that very night and that when he entered the marriage chamber he should take live ashes of insense and place the heart and the liver upon them and the demon would flee. 

      The family welcomed Tobias and his companion warmly when they arrived.  A ram was killed and a scrumptious meal was prepared. While they were having dinner Azarias approached Raguel, the Father of Sarah and proposed that Tobias should marry Sarah as he was a close cousin and it was the custom for marriages to take place within the family or tribe. Ragual and Edna his wife were unhappy about it and tried to dissuade Tobias, but he would not be deterred and as Ragual and Edna saw that he was in earnest they agreed to it and together they signed a contract.  Edna had to comfort her daughter, Sarah and speak encouraging words.

      After the meal Tobias was escorted to Sarah's chamber and he remembered what Azarias had told him and took live ashes of insense in with him and laid the heart and the liver of the fish on the ashes.  The smoke filled the room and when the demon smelled it he fled to the furthest part of Egypt.  Then the two, Tobias and Sarah prayed in thanksgiving. 

      In the meantime Raguel went into the garden to dig a grave thinking that perhaps Tobias also would die.  Then one of the maids was sent to Sarah to see if Tobias was still alive.  The maid opened the door and went in and found them both asleep and she came out and told Raguel that Tobias was indeed alive.  Then Raguel ordered his servants to fill the grave in again.

     There was much rejoicing and feasting.  The wedding feast lasted fourteen days and in this time Azarias went to Rages to receive the debt from Gabael Tobit's cousin.  He stayed there overnight and the next morning both Azarias and Gabael returned to Ecbatana to join in the wedding feast.

     After the wedding feast Tobias returned with his wife with slaves, cattle and money which he received from Raguel. 

     Tobit and Anna were waiting for Tobias to return and Anna constantly watched out for him.  One day she saw Tobias and Azarias in the distance.  They had gone on ahead to prepare Tobit and his wife for Sarah's coming.  Anna ran out to embrace Tobias and Tobias went toward his father and sprinkled the gall of the fish which he had kept onto Tobit's eyes so that the scales fell off them and he could see again.  Then Tobit saw his son and was full of joy and thankfullness to see him again and he praised God.

     Tobias told his Father and Mother all that happened on his journey and when Sarah came up behind he introduced his wife to them.

      When Tobit and Tobias wanted to reward Azarias with cash and goods for the way he had cared for Tobias on his journey Azarias revealed himself as the Archangel Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, and told how he had been present when Tobit buried the dead and prayed to God in his distress and when Sarah  prayed to God for relief in her distress.  He told how God had sent him to heal Sarah and Tobit.

     There was great rejoicing and feasting and thankfulness to God and the Archangel Raphael in all their hearts.


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The Archangel Raphael is known as the Archangel of healing.


    




       

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