The Testament of Solomon, Part 10

Solomon is continuing his conversation with Asmodeus, finally getting around to asking what angel stops this guy.  Asmodeus is compelled to answer:

“Raphael, the one who stands before God; but a liver and a gall of a fish smoking on coals of charcoal drives me away.”

He goes on to reveal that it’s the sheatfish – but isn’t all this a little strange?

This section of the Testament is a reference to an earlier work called the Book of Tobit, included in the Old Testament Apocrypha.   It tells of Sara of Ecbatana, who is plagued by  Asmodeus.  Every time she gets married, he shows up on her wedding night and slaughters her husband.  She’s up to seven husbands now and is getting seriously worried.

(Observant readers might see that this is a similar arrangement to the demon-human interaction we noted between Ornias and the boy – long-term, no benefit for the human, and seemingly without a point.)

Tobit goes blind, and sends his son Tobias on a journey.  Tobias is the luckiest guy on the planet.  He happens to meet the angel Raphael on his way.  At one point, a large fish jumps across his path.  Raphael tells him to pick it up, as its innards have special properties.  The heart and liver, when burned, drive off demons, and the gall just happens to cure the blind.

Tobias later comes to the town where Sara lives and just happens to meet her.  As it turns out, they’re cousins – in the Old Testament setting, marrying your cousin was a good thing.  So, Tobias burns the fish guts, and Asmodeus runs off into the desert, only to have the angel Raphael jump and bind him.  It’s not really clear why Raphael had to wait so long.  Nonetheless, Tobias heals Tobit, marries Sara, and lives happily ever after.

If you haven’t heard of Tobit, it’s likely because it’s never been that popular.  When people read Scripture, they want to hear about people conquering adversity due to virtue, or faithfulness, or steadfastness, or crying out to heaven.  They don’t want to hear how fumigating your apartment with fish overcomes the forces of evil.  That’s like becoming king because some watery tart threw a sword at you. Nonetheless, the Book of Tobit has a long history that is honored within the Testament.

Next time, Asmodeus gets a job from Solomon’s Really Bad Temp Service!

Published in: on December 15, 2007 at 6:32 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have heard of Tobit, but only because it’s explicitly cited as the source for Andrew Greeley’s Angel Light. The hero of the novel at various points realises he’s living a modern version of the story.

  2. […] Testament of Solomon, Part 11 We were getting to know Asmodeus better, and we’d arrived at the point where Solomon needed to assign him a task.  Suddenly, the […]

  3. […] the Apocryphal Book of Tobit.  He also briefly speaks with Solomon in his Testament (details here, here, and here) and makes an occasional appearance in rabbinical lore.  He becomes prominent in the […]

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