In the Old Testament Apocrypha Tobit, father of Tobias, lived in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and defied the law in helping his fellow Jews in exile. For this all his goods were taken away. When Tobit gave a Jew a proper burial one night, he slept in his courtyard and was blinded by sparrow droppings. Fearing imminent death, Tobit remembered money he had deposited with a man in Media and sent Tobias to reclaim them. The archangel Raphael appeared in disguise to guide him to it, and Tobias' dog accompanied them. One evening they came to the River Tigris, and when Tobias 'went down to wash himself, a fish leaped out of the river, and would have devoured him.'

Raphael told him to catch the fish and conserve the heart, liver and gall while they ate the rest of it. They arrived at the house of Tobias' cousin Raguel, where it was arranged that Tobias would marry Raguel's daughter, Sarah. The heart and liver of the fish were burned and their scent banished the demon which had caused the death of Sarah's seven previous husbands. Raphael was sent to collect money, the wedding was celebrated, and they returned to Nineveh to cure Tobit's blindness with the gall of the fish.

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