Do the Sadducees Allude to the Book of Tobit?

Inspired Writ?

Among the many bad reasons why Romanists believe that the Apocryphal writings are inspired writ,[1] is their false notion that Christ approved of them when His enemies supposedly alluded to the book of Tobit in one of their disputes with Him.[2] In the Synoptic Gospels, Christ is confronted by the Sadducees who are looking to confound Him with a question concerning marriage, remarriage, and the resurrection. The Sadducees state the following:

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”[3]

Because the Sadducees speak of a woman who is married seven times, the Romanist apologetes say that this is an allusion to the book of Tobit.[4] That Christ does not explicitly condemn Tobit as uninspired “pious” myth, they say, is proof that He accepted its status as canonical, inspired writ. Let us examine their argument in some detail. Our examination will prove that (i.)the Sadducees do not allude to the book of Tobit, (ii.)the Words of Christ actually contradict one of the main narrative threads contained in the book of Tobit, and (iii.)the book of Tobit, therefore, is not inspired writ.

The Sadducees Do Not Allude to the book of Tobit

On first glance, it may appear to be the case that the Sadducees allude to the book of Tobit. However, once we give the text of the book of Tobit more than a superficial glance, we see that it disagrees with the words of the Sadducees. For if the Sadducees state that the woman in question had seven husbands who all died, and that she, at last, died, then how can the Romanists reconcile this with the fact that Sarah does not have seven husbands? She has eight; seven of her husbands die, but the eighth lives (being saved by magic prescribed by an “angel”[5]). Regarding the matrimonial history of Sarah prior to her final marriage to Tobias, the text informs us that

“…she had been married to seven husbands, whom Asmodeus the evil spirit had killed, before they had lain with her. ‘Dost thou not know,’ said they, ‘that thou hast strangled thine husbands? thou hast had already seven husbands, neither wast thou named after any of them.’”[6]

Thus, it is clear from the text that Sarah has had seven husbands already. Furthermore, we learn that Sarah is about to be given a husband that will not be killed by Asmodeus, and this husband is Tobias.[7] The Romanists have an insurmountable problem here, for the text of Scripture declares that “the seven had her as wife,”[8] not “the eight.”

In addition to this, we are told by all of the Evangelists that the seven husbands of the hypothetical woman of the Sadducees’ challenge to Christ were brothers.[9] As the Sadducees tell Christ, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife and no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.”[10] Their whole argument, therefore, is dependent upon these facts (i.)that the woman has seven husbands, (ii.)that the seven husbands are brothers, and (iii.)that these brothers “left no children and died. Afterward, the woman also died.”[11] Yet, Sarah has eight husbands,[12] the last of which is her cousin and, apparently, unrelated to the preceding seven husbands,[13] and, what is more, she has children. For at the end of the book we are informed of the fact that “when Anna his mother was dead, [Tobias] buried her with his father. But Tobias departed with his wife and children to Ecbatane to Raguel his father in law…”[14]

Considering the above facts, we are forced to conclude by stating that there is no allusion to the book of Tobit being made by the Sadducees at all, for the two narratives (i.e. that of the Sadducees and that of the book of Tobit) coincide at only two points, viz. (a.)there was a woman, (b.)the woman was married more than once. Sarah was not married seven times, but eight. Sarah was not married to a chain of brothers, for she, in the end, is married to her cousin, Tobit who alone, according to the “angel” has the legal right, according to the Law of Moses, to marry her.[15] Sarah does not die without children, for the ending of Tobit informs us that she and Tobias have children. Where then is the allusion? There is none.

False Ontology

We have already sufficiently refuted the false notion that the Sadducees were alluding to the book of Tobit, but to take it just one step further we ask the Romanist to explain how the book is understood by Christ to be infallible Scripture when Christ Himself explicitly states that “the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage”[16] and in the resurrection they will be “equal to angels.”[17] This explicitly contradicts the book of Tobit which explains that Sarah’s seven husbands die because an evil spirit who loves her, and who is presumably very jealous, kills them before their successive marriages could be consummated.[18] Asmodeus’ “love” for Sarah, moreover, is not platonic but sexual – that is to say, Asmodeus wants to have sexual relations with Sarah.[19] Asmodeus, as the Jewish Encyclopedia explains,

“is attracted by Sarah, Raguel’s daughter, and is not willing to let any husband possess her (Tobit, vi. 13); hence he slays seven successive husbands on their wedding-nights. When the young Tobias is about to marry her, Asmodeus purposes the same fate for him; but Tobias is enabled, through the counsels of his attendant angel Raphael, to render him innocuous. […] Asmodeus would thus seem to be a demon characterized by carnal desire; but he is also described as an evil spirit in general […] It is possible, moreover, that the statement (vi. 14), ‘Asmodeus loved Sarah,’ implies that he was attracted not by women in general, but by Sarah only.”[20]

This clearly contradicts the Word of God, for angels, even the fallen kind, cannot have sexual relations with humans. Therefore, Christ could not have accepted as inspired writ a book

The Conclusion

Contrary to the opinions of the apologetes of the Roman religion, the Sadducees did not allude to the book of Tobit, nor did the Lord Christ implicitly attest to its Divine origin. There is simply no allusion to the book of Tobit in the Gospel periscope in question. The importance of this lies in the fact that during the course of our examination of the two narratives in question, we have uncovered the fact that Tobit contradicts Scripture. And if it contradicts Scripture, it is not Scripture. Therefore, to identify Tobit as Scripture is to act fallibly. However, the papacy identifies Tobit as Scripture. Therefore, the papacy is fallible.


[1] For a more scholarly explanation of why Protestants rightly reject the Apocryphal Writings, see Why We Reject the Apocrypha, by Edward C. Unmack.

[2] The Jewish Encyclopedia has a detail entry about the book of Tobit here.

[3] Mark 12:19-23; cf. Matt 22:23-28; Luke 20:27-33

[5] Cf. Tobit 6

[6] Tobit 3:8; 7:11

[7] Tobit 3:11-17; 7:12

[8] Mark 12:23b

[9] Cf. Matt 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29

[10] Luke 20:28

[11] Luke 20:30

[12] Cf. Tobit 6:10-15

[13] Cf. Tobit 6:10; 7:2; 7:12

[14] Tobit 14:12

[15] Tobit 6:10-12 reads:

“The angel said to the young man, Brother, today we shall lodge with Raguel, who is thy cousin; he also hath one only daughter, named Sara; I will speak for her, that she may be given thee for a wife. For to thee doth the right of her appertain, seeing thou only art of her kindred. And the maid is fair and wise: now therefore hear me, and I will speak to her father; and when we return from Rages we will celebrate the marriage: for I know that Raguel cannot marry her to another according to the law of Moses, but he shall be guilty of death, because the right of inheritance doth rather appertain to thee than to any other.”

[16] Luke 20:34

[17] Luke 20:36

[18] Cf. Tobit 6:14

[19] The Catholic Encyclopedia attempts to explains this away by stating that

“the Book of Tobias relates that the virgin Sara, the kinswoman of Tobias, had been given successively to seven husbands; but they had all been slain on the night of the nuptials, before the consummation of the marriage. From this fact, a superstition had arisen that the demon loved the maiden and slew her husbands through jealousy. In the Greek text of Tobias, it is stated that the younger Tobias himself was moved by this superstition. The inspired text in no way approves the superstition. God allowed the demon to slay these men because they entered marriage with unholy motives.” (online source)

Where does the text state that Asmodeus’ lust was mere superstition? Nowhere. This is pure dishonesty from the Romanists.


7 thoughts on “Do the Sadducees Allude to the Book of Tobit?

  1. Howard says:

    The Sadducees were not claiming that Tobit was scripture. They were simply alluding to a story the way that many writers and movie-makers use themes already present to present a new idea which often isn’t new at all. Look at today’s movies. How many of them are recycled themes of past movies? The Jews knew this story, for the Apocrypha are not scripture, but, like I-II Maccabees, were in the minds of the Jews of that day.


  2. Howard says:

    Actually, they WERE alluding to the Book of Tobit. They knew that the story was not scriptural, so they had to change it to relate to scripture, which they did, bringing in the law of Moses. The fact that they didn’t use the story of Tobit as it was written shows that they did not consider the book canonical. This allusion is evidence that the Jews back then did NOT consider it canonical.

    Whatever Christian groups did with the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha as far as canonicity is concerned came later, after this challenge of the Sadducees.


  3. Phil says:

    Because the Sadducees only believed in the Torah, they were only slightly knowledgeable to the rest of the scriptures. The reason why they don’t give the actual story of Tobit is because of their ignorance they mixed two stories into one, which is the story of Tobias and Sarah and the story of the woman with seven sons. Both cannononical.


  4. Phil says:

    The seven brothers specifically spoke of the resurrection during their maryterdom so it’s a perfect example for the Sadducees to use to Stump him. Jesus corrects them for goofing up the stories. The seven brother’s mother was the one who died not Sarah. Sarah’s husbands were not her brothers and she didn’t die. If they got the story correct Jesus wouldn’t need to tell them that the don’t know the scriptures.


    • Hiram says:

      Jesus does not correct them for goofing up the stories. The text neither explicitly nor implicitly teaches that this is what happened. Rather, Jesus corrects their ignorance of the Scriptures by saying:

      “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

      He explains that they do not know the Scriptures. He then demonstrates from the book of Exodus that the dead are raised. Not only this, but the Torah implies that post-life existence will be vastly different from our own by virtue of its Levirite laws, which the Sadducees should have known.

      If the marriage contract remained in force post-death then God would be commanding the Israelite men to commit adultery by marrying the bride of their deceased brothers.

      The Sadducees were not alluding to Tobit. They were trying to trip Christ up by proposing a false dilemma, one which should have been obviously false to men who supposedly had considerable knowledge of the Books of Moses.

      This text has nothing to do with Tobit. Roman Catholic apologists read this into the text in order to further argue, from silence, that Christ recognized the book of Tobit as inspired holy writ.


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