Archangel Raphael, leaving the family of Tobiah by Rembrandt Harmens Van Rhine

Archangel Raphael, leaving the family of Tobiah by Rembrandt Harmens Van Rhine

The book of Tobit describes the story of a family that has fallen to the Assyrian captivity from the “northern country”, that is, Israel. This book is not included in either the Jewish biblical canon, nor in the Protestant canon, identical in composition to the Jewish one. It is included in the Orthodox and Catholic Bibles as a second-canonical book… The Elder Tovit did many good deeds, distributed bread among his fellow tribesmen, supplied the needy with clothes, and, despite the ban, secretly buried the murdered Jews. For all this he had to endure a lot of persecution by the Assyrians.


old age, Tobit lost sight; huge eyes appeared on his eyes. In anticipation of death, he gave some instructions to his son Tobiah, and he went to carry them out accompanied by a young man who called himself Raphael. Approaching Tigers, Tobias caught a big fish.

On the advice of the fellow traveler, he cut out her heart, liver, and bile, and preserved them, because with the smoke of the burned heart and liver, it turns out, you can drive out the evil spirit, and with bile you need to smear the eyes of a man with sore eyes, and he will be healed. Upon the return of Tobias and Raphael, they expelled the demon from the body of the girl Sarah, who then became the wife of Tobias, and also returned sight to his father. When Tobias offered Rafail a reward for helping, he confessed that he was not a man, but an archangel, and carried out the mission entrusted to him by God himself.

In the Rembrandt picture, we see the moment of the ascension of an angel in front of grateful members of the Tobias family… A well-known composition of this amazing work was left by the famous Belgian critic and playwright Emil Verhari: “Patriarch’s family: kneeling father, wife and son, clinging to each other in fear, the dog, timidly curled up about its mistress, – everything speaks about the miracle that has happened, while the angel-healer, swift and unapproachable, rushes to heaven in mighty flight to join the heavenly host, from Otori he momentarily separated.

This extraordinary phenomenon is depicted, as always with Rembrandt, in the most significant terms. Nothing extra. Not a single fake gesture. No flatulence, no exaggeration. The impression of complete naturalness is created: you cannot doubt for a minute that heaven descends to earthly affairs, that God leans towards people. “

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