Sarah, the sensuous, creative, and exquisite daughter of Raguel, was married seven times. Each bridegroom died on his wedding night as he approached Sarah. A demon that loved Sarah, but despised her would-be husbands, had killed each one before the couple could consummate the marriage. The ridicule and scorn of others made Sarah long for her own death.
Tobit, a blind man of great piety and love for God, had a son named Tobiah. The boy's destiny was to marry Sarah, a near relative. one day, Tobiah left his home accompanied by the angel Raphael, who appeared as a man and called himself Azariah. As Tobiah and Raphael approached a river, a large fish jumped up and tried to swallow Tobiah's foot. The angel told him to catch the fish and then remove the gall, heart, and liver and put them aside; Tobiah would need them later. Raphael told him that the heart and liver could be burned to banish a demon, and that the gall, once rubbed onto the eyes of a man with cataracts, would restore eyesight.
The Book of Tobit, that reveals the story of Sarah and Tobiah, was most likely written in the early second century B.C. It is not included in the Old Testament of the King James Bible, but is found in other versions of the Bible, including the Saint Joseph edition of The New American Bible. The popular story teaches about Jewish piety and morality, and is anchored in oriental folklore.
Raphael reminded Tobiah that they would stop at the house of Raguel, father of Sarah, for the night. There Raphael would ask the girl's father for Tobiah's right to claim her in marriage. Raphael reminded Tobiah that he had promised his father that he would marry a woman from his own family, and he had the right to choose Sarah, his closest relative.
When Tobiah and Raphael arrived at the house of Raguel, they were greeted by Raguel and his wife Edna, along with their daughter Sarah. When Raguel inquired about Tobiah's father, Tobit, and was told that the old man had gone blind, they all wept.
A Marriage Contract Is Made
Raguel agreed to let Sarah marry Tobiah, but fully disclosed what had happened to her other bridegrooms. He had a scroll brought in and wrote a marriage contract for Tobiah and Sarah. He told Tobiah that after they were married, he should take Sarah and return with her to his father's home to live. Raguel must have been a pragmatist, because even as he went forward with the wedding preparations, he ordered his servants to dig a grave so that when Tobiah died, they could bury him without anyone knowing.
Tobiah Burns the Fish Liver and Heart
Tobiah, remembering the counsel of Raphael about purging a demon, burned the fish liver and heart on some incense embers before taking his wife to bed. The smell was awful, and caused the demon to depart to the desert of Upper Egypt (where it was believed demons dwelled).
Tobiah and his new wife prayed, then crawled into bed to consummate their marriage. When the maid found the couple asleep together, she ran and told Raguel that Tobiah had not died. Raguel and Edna fell to their knees and began praising God. Afterward, Raguel told his servants to quickly go and fill in the grave they had dug.
The Wedding Is Celebrated with a Great Feast
Raguel and Edna made a huge feast, and made Tobiah promise that he would remain with them for fourteen days. After that time, the young man could take half of whatever Raguel owned and return to his father with Sarah. Raguel went on to explain that when he and his wife Edna died, Tobiah would receive the remainder of the inheritance.
In the Book of Tobit, Raphael finally revealed his identity as one of the seven angels who eternally serve God. The Bible mentions two others: Michael, whose name appears in the books of Deuteronomy, Jude, and Revelation; and Gabriel, found in Deuteronomy and the Gospel of Luke.
Upon returning home, Tobiah took out the fish gall and rubbed it onto his father's eyes. Using both hands, he then peeled off the cataracts that were the cause of the blindness. The old man looked upon his son, threw his arms around him, and began to praise God. All of the Jews who lived in Nineveh joined Tobit and Anna as they celebrated the marriage of young Tobiah and Sarah for seven days.