St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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The Bible: Tobit, Judith and Esther

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The Book of Tobit is another one of those fun stories in the Bible. This story is self-contained. What do I mean by that? You can read the book while not knowing where it fits in the Bible and still get a whole story. It is a story of a very holy man named Tobit. Tobit was a very real person and in the first chapter and a half sets the stage for the story.

In the middle of the second chapter, Tobit falls asleep against the wall in the courtyard of his house. As Tobit himself puts what happens next, “I did not know there were birds perched on the wall till their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing cataracts” and he became blind (Tobit 2:10). Why he let it settle in his eyes I do not know. Half way through Chapter 3 Sarah, many miles away, is being falsely accused because she has married seven men, brothers that all died their wedding night. Sound a little familiar? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was posed with a question about whose wife she is in the afterlife (Mt 22:25). This is another example of Old Testament connections to the New Testament. You will have to read the rest of this story. But realize, it was one that the Jewish leaders took out in the Council of Jamnia in the year 90 AD. Therefore, you will not find it in the Protestant Bible.

After Tobit comes the Book of Judith. In Judith, the first five chapters set the stage for the story. The conquerors of the whole region want to have absolute power over all people. The Israelites refuse. King Nebuchadnezzar takes this as a challenge and sets his sights on crushing the Israelites.  The Israelites despair, but Judith trusts in God and saves the people by chopping off the head of King Nebuchadnezzar’s top military leader. The Assyrians are embarrassed by the fact that a woman defeated their army: such is the ways of God. God “humbles the proud in their conceit” (Lk 2:51).

The book of Esther is a popular story where during the exile, the Jewish people are taken out of the Holy Land. Esther is a young woman who practices her faith, raised by her foster father Mordecai. Esther enjoys the simple life, but God has other plans for her. The King wants Esther as one of his wives and makes her the Queen. The Queen is in the graces of the King when the King demands that all his subjects worship the idol he has created. Mordecai refuses to worship the idol on account of his Jewish faith. Not knowing Esther is a Jew, the King’s right hand man demands the death of all Jews in the land on a certain day. But Esther wins the favor of the King and spares the life of the Jews.

The Bible is loaded with interesting stories like these. They are full of wisdom and examples of faith. Esther, a young woman born of a lowly servant, whose parents are no longer with her, becomes a queen. Yet she is so focused on doing God’s will. She does what the King wants, but you will never find her flaunting her queenship. These are real people of faith. This is our faith. It is our heritage and our story. It is such a fascinating story we share in faith. 

Author: stjosephstmary

We are two Catholic Churches close to downtown Freeport, IL. Our communities are over 150 years old and have been dedicated to our lord Jesus Christ since our inception. We believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of ythe Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

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