Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Search for…
Prev Entry
Tobey, Zalmon
Next Entry
Tobiah, ben Eliezer
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

(Heb. Tobiyah', טוֹנַיָּה [once טֹביָּה,Nehemiah 2, 19], goodness of Jehovah; Sept. Τωβίας v.r. Τωβεία; Vulg. Tobia, Tobis), the name of two men. (See TOBIAS); (See TOBIAIL).

1. A person whose "children" were a family that returned with Zerubbabel, but were unable to prove their connection with Israel (Ezra 2:60; Nehemiah 7:62). B.C. ante 536.

2. A base-born ally of the Samaritans who played a conspicuous part in the rancorous opposition made by Sanballat the Moabiite and his adherents to the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Nehemiah, B.C. 446. With an affectation of scorn, after the manner of Remus in the Roman legend, they looked on the constructions of the now hopeful and thriving Jews, and contemptuously said, "Even if a fox go up, he will break down their stone wall" (Nehemiah 4:3). The two races of Moab and Ammon found in these men fit representatives of that hereditary hatred to the Israelites which began before the entrance into Canaan, and was not extinct when the Hebrews had ceased to exist as a nation. The horrible story of the origin of the Moabites and Ammonites, as it was told by the Hebrews, is an index of the feeling of repulsion which must have existed between these hostile families of men. In the dignified rebuke of Nehemiah it received its highest expression: "Ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem" (2, 20). But Tobiah, though-a slave (Nehemiah 4:10; Nehemiah 4:19), unless this be a title of opprobrium, and an Ammonite, found means to ally himself with a priestly family, and his son Johanan, married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah (6, 18). He himself was the son in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah (Nehemiah 4:17), and these family relations created for him a strong faction among the Jews, and may have had something to do with the stern measures which Ezra found it necessary to take to repress the intermarriages with foreigners. Even a grandson of the high-priest Eliashib had married a daughter of Sanballat (13, 28). In 13:4 Eliashib is said to have been allied to Tobiah, which would imply a relationship of some kind between Tobiah and Sanballat, though its nature is not mentioned. The evil had spread so far that the leaders of the people were compelled to rouse their religious antipathies by reading from the law of Moses the strong prohibition that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God forever (Nehemiah 4:1). Ewald (Gesch. 4:173) conjectures that Tobiah had been a page ("slave") at the Persian court, and, being in favor there, had been promoted to be satrap of the Ammonites. But it almost seems that against Tobiah there was a stronger feeling of animosity than against Sanballat, and that this animosity found expression in the epithet "the slave," which is attached to his name. It was Tobiah who gave venom to the pitying scorn of Sanballat (Nehemiah 4:3), and provoked the bitter cry of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:4-5); it was Tobiah who kept up communications with the factious Jews, and who sent letters to put their leader in fear (Nehemiah 6:17; Nehemiah 6:19); but his crowning act of insult was to take up his residence in the Temple in the chamber which Eliashib had prepared for him in defiance of the Mosaic statute. Nehemiah's patience could no longer contain itself, "therefore," he says, " I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber," and with this summary act Tobiah disappears from history (Nehemiah 13:7-8). (See NEHEMIAH).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tobiah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​t/tobiah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.