Day 177 – Tobit 1-3; Psalms 144:10–21; Proverbs 31:1–5; Acts 7:44–60

Tobit 1-3

1 This is the book of the words of Tobit, the son of Tobiel, the son of Hananiel, the son of Aduel, the son of Gabael, of the seed of Asiel, from the tribe of Naphtali. 2 He was led captive out of Thisbe in the days of Shalmaneser, king of the Assyrians. Thisbe is south of Kedesh Naphtali, in Galilee above Asher.

3 I, Tobit, walked in the paths of truth and righteousness all the days of my life. I did much almsgiving to my brethren and to the people who journeyed with me as exiles to Nineveh, in the country of the Assyrians. 4 In my young days, when I was in my own country, the land of Israel, the entire tribe of my father Naphtali turned away from the house of Jerusalem, which was chosen from all the tribes of Israel, to sacrifice for all the tribes. This temple, the habitation of the Most High God, was sanctified and built for all generations forever.

5 Now all the tribes that joined in the revolt sacrificed the heifer to Baal. The house of Naphtali, the tribe of my father, also revolted. 6 But I alone traveled frequently to Jerusalem for the feast days, as it is written for all of Israel in an everlasting ordinance. I would carry the firstfruits and the tithes of my harvest and the first-shearing. 7 These I would give to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar. I would offer the tenth of all the harvest to the sons of Levi who served at Jerusalem. I would also sell off the second tenth and go and spend it at Jerusalem each year. 8 The third tenth I would give to whom it was fitting, as Deborah the mother of my father commanded me, for I was left an orphan by my father. 9 When I became a man, I took Anna for a wife from my own kindred. With her I became the father of Tobias.

10 When I was taken captive to Nineveh, all my brothers and those from my race ate from the bread of the Gentiles. 11 But I protected myself by not eating it. 12 For I remembered God with all my soul. 13 So the Most High gave me grace and comeliness before Shalmaneser, and I became his purchasing agent. 14 I would go into Media. And one time in Rages of Media, I entrusted to Gabael, the brother of Gabrias, ten talents of silver.

  15 When Shalmaneser died and his son Sennacherib reigned in his place, the roads were unstable and I could no longer travel to Media. 16 In the days of Shalmaneser, I did much almsgiving to my brothers. 17 I would give my bread to the hungry and my clothing to the naked. If I saw anyone of my people dead, cast outside the wall of Nineveh, I would bury him. 18 If King Sennacherib put someone to death when he came trying to escape from Judea, I buried them secretly. For in his anger, he put many to death, and the bodies were sought by the king; but they were not found. 19 But one of the men of Nineveh went and made known to the king concerning my burying them. So I hid, and when I knew I was being sought to be put to death I was frightened and ran away. 20 All of my possessions were seized and I had nothing left, except Anna my wife and Tobias my son.

21 But not even fifty days passed before two of King Sennacherib’s sons had killed him and escaped into the mountains of Ararat. Thus Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. He appointed Ahikar, the son of my brother Anael, to be over all the accounts of his kingdom and over the entire government. 22 Ahikar then entreated on my behalf, so I came to Nineveh. Now Ahikar was the wine-pourer, the keeper of the signet ring, the administrator and the accountant. Esarhaddon appointed him second to himself, and he was my nephew.

The Charitable Tobit Becomes Blind

1 When I arrived at my house, my wife Anna and my son Tobias were given back to me. It was the Feast of Pentecost, which is the holy feast of the seven weeks. A good dinner was prepared for me, so I sat down at the table to eat. 2 When I saw the abundance of meat, I said to my son, “Go and bring whomever you may find of our needy brethren who are mindful of the Lord. Behold, I will wait for you.” 3 But he came back and said, “O father, one of our people was strangled and thrown into the marketplace.” 4 So before I even tasted anything, I jumped up and carried the corpse into a room until sunset. 5 Then I returned, bathed myself, and ate my bread in sorrow. 6 Then I remembered the prophecy of Amos, how he said,

“Your feasts will be turned into mourning,

And all your gladness into a song of grief.”

So I wept. 7 When the sun went down, I departed, and after digging a grave, I buried him. 8 My neighbors laughed at me and said, “He is no longer afraid to be put to death for doing such a thing. He ran away before, and now, behold, he is burying the dead again.”

9 On the same night that I buried him, I returned home. But since I was defiled, I slept by the wall of the courtyard with my face uncovered. 10 However, I did not see the sparrows on the wall, for while my eyes were open the sparrows discharged their droppings into my eyes, and they became white films in my eyes. I went to physicians, but they could not help me. Then Ahikar supported me until he left for Elymais.

11 Then my wife Anna worked for hire at what women do. 12 She would send her work to the owners and they would pay her. On one occasion they paid her wages and also gave her a small goat. 13 But when she returned to me, it began to bleat. So I said to her, “Where did this goat come from? Is it not stolen? Return it to the owners, for it is unlawful to eat what is stolen.” 14 But she replied, “It was given to me as a gift. It was in addition to my wages.” But I did not believe her, telling her to return it to its owners. I blushed in embarrassment for her sake. So she answered and said to me, “Are your acts of charity and righteous deeds lawful? Behold, you are a know-it-all!”

Tobit’s Prayer

1 Then I wept in my sorrow, and with pain I prayed, saying:

2 “O Lord, You are righteous. So too are all Your works. All Your ways are mercy and truth. Your judgments are true and just forever. 3 Remember me and look upon me with favor. Do not punish me for my sins and my ignorance, nor those sins of my fathers which they committed against You. 4 Because they disobeyed Your commands, so You gave us as spoil, captivity and death. You made us a byword of disgrace among all the nations in which we were scattered. 5 Now Your judgments concerning my sins are many and they are true, because I did them, and so did my fathers. For we did not keep Your commandments. Indeed we did not walk in truth before You. 6 Now do with me as is best before You. Command that my spirit be taken up, so I may be released and become soil, since it is better for me to die than to live. For I have heard false insults, and there is much sorrow within me. Command that I be freed from distress to now enter into the eternal place. Do not turn Your face away from me.”

7 On the same day, in Ecbatana of Media, Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, happened to be insulted by her father’s maids. 8 She was married to seven husbands, but before they could be with her as a wife, Asmodeus, the evil demon, killed them. So they said to her, “Do you not recollect that you strangled these husbands? You have already had seven husbands, but you received no profit from any of them. 9 Therefore, why punish us? If they are dead, go with them. May we never see a son or daughter of yours.”

  10 When she heard this, she was so distressed that she considered hanging herself. But she said, “I am the only one of my father. If I do this, it will be a disgrace to him, and I will bring down his old age with sorrow into Hades.” 11 So she prayed by her window and said:

Sarah’s Prayer

“Blessed are You, O Lord my God. Blessed is Your holy and precious name unto the ages. May all Your works bless You forever. 12 Now, O Lord, I offer myself completely to You. 13 Command that I be released from the land, that I may not hear such disgrace any more. 14 O Lord, You know that I am innocent of any sin with a man. 15 I have not defiled my name nor the name of my father in the land of my captivity. I am my father’s only offspring. He has no other child who will be his heir. Neither does he have a brother close at hand, nor an adopted son that I might keep myself as a wife to him. Seven of my husbands have already perished. What should I live for? But if it does not seem good to You to kill me, command that I be looked upon with favor, and that mercy be shown to me, so I may no longer hear disgrace.”

16 The prayer of both was heard in the presence of the great glory of Raphael, 17 and he was sent to heal the two of them: to remove the white films from Tobit; to give Sarah of Raguel to Tobias the son of Tobit as a wife; and to bind Asmodeus the evil demon, for it fell upon Tobias to inherit her. At that same time Tobit returned and entered his house, and Sarah of Raguel came down from her upstairs room.

Psalms 144

10 O Lord, let all Your works praise You And Your holy ones bless You. 

11 They shall tell of Your kingdom’s glory, And they shall speak of Your power, 

12 That all the sons of men may know Your power And the glory of Your kingdom’s magnificence. 

13 Your kingdom is a kingdom of all the ages, And Your dominion is from generation to generation. The Lord is faithful in His words And holy in all His works. 

14 The Lord supports all who stumble And restores all who are broken down. 

15 All eyes hope in You, And You give them their food in due season. 

16 You open Your hand And fill every living thing with Your pleasure. 

17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways And holy in all His works. 

18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 

19 He shall do the will of those who fear Him, And He shall hear their supplications and save them. 

20 The Lord keeps all who love Him, But all the sinners He shall utterly destroy. 

21 My mouth shall speak the Lord’s praise, And let all flesh bless His holy name Forever and unto ages of ages.

Proverbs of Solomon 31

1 My words were spoken by God, The oracular response of a king, whom his mother instructed. 

A Mother’s Wisdom

2 “What, my child, will you keep? What? The words of God.” My firstborn son, I say to you, “What, the child of my womb? What, the child of my vows?” 

3 Do not give your wealth to women, Nor your heart or life to remorse. 

4 Do all things with counsel; Drink wine with counsel; Princes are prone to anger, but let them not drink wine, 

5 Lest while they drink, they forget wisdom, And be unable to judge the weak uprightly.

Acts 7

44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,

45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,

46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.

47 But Solomon built Him a house.

48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:

49 ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, Or what is the place of My rest? 

50 Has My hand not made all these things?’ 

51 “ You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.

52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,

53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it. ”

Stephen’s Martyrdom

54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.

55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;

58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

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