Tobit 2.1-2 – New Testament Banquets for the Righteous

Then during the reign of Esar-haddon I returned home, and my wife Anna and my son Tobias were restored to me. At our festival of Pentecost, which is the sacred festival of weeks, a good dinner was prepared for me and I reclined to eat. When the table was set for me and an abundance of food placed before me, I said to my son Tobias, “Go, my child, and bring whatever poor person you may find of our people among the exiles in Nineveh, who is wholeheartedly mindful of God, and he shall eat together with me. I will wait for you, until you come back.” (Tobit 2:1-2 NRSV)

The feast, or banquet, was seen as a status symbol in ancient times, where the wealthy would compassionately invite the poor to feast. Once Tobit had been restored to some sense of financial stability, he returned the favor, part of his almsgiving, and sent his son to invite the poor – but only those who follow God. The casual Christian reader should see the resemblance in the parable being related here; it is the exact same one found in the parables of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 22.1-14; Luke 14.16-24) We also find that John uses the parable of the wedding feast (Revelation 19.6-9) to describe the carnage and destruction at the end of the world. It is no coincidence that the wedding guests in both texts should be seen as the Jews. Unlike Tobit, however, the wedding invitation in the Gospel can be construed to be extended to the Gentiles.

This is not surprising, especially if Richard Bauckham is correct, in that Tobit is a parable written to the Northern (Lost) Tribes. I’ll have more interact with Bauckham’s essay, later, but so far, we find parabolic material in Tobit, which we will later find used in the Gospels.

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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