Jesus had healed Gentiles before, but always in Jewish territory. Analysis of the Text. I. The Circumstances: Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon (v. 21) Jesus was trying to control the timing of things. He did not want people to make Him king, and He did not want the confrontation with His enemies to come to a head too soon. So frequently He withdrew, or told people not to say anything about the miracle, or a number of other unexpected acts. It appears that Jesus withdrew for a time, both to let the conflict settle a bit, and to turn attention to Gentiles in this act Jesus wanted the disciples and the woman to understand fully that His ministry in the brief time He had on earth was very focused. He was the Son of David, the Messiah.
If you’ve ever read the exchange between Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30, I’m sure you’ve asked the same question most of us have: “Did Jesus really say that?!” What did He say?
In response to the woman’s request for Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter, Jesus said, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” How rude! It seems out of character for Jesus to put down a woman, equating her to a dog. Larry Hurtado has a helpful on this passage that explains Jesus’ point in its original context.
He makes the following points: • The Greek word Jesus used for “dog” refers to domesticated dogs, not wild dogs, and thus it was not meant to be taken in a derogatory manner. • Jesus was appealing to a common practice that every mother knew: first you feed the kids, and then you feed the household pets.
• Mark’s gospel was written for a Gentile audience. Why would Mark choose to include this story if Jesus’ was belittling Gentiles and saying they were not worthy of the kingdom? That’s counter-intuitive, and suggests that we are misunderstanding the exchange. Mark’s original audience would not have understood Jesus to be belittling the woman, or Gentiles in general. Jesus’ point was merely that His ministry was limited specifically to the Jewish people. The problem was not that the woman was unworthy of a miracle because she was a Gentile, but that the timing was not right.
Jesus makes it clear that the Gentiles would also receive of the same food the Jews were eating in the future.
This is implied by His statement that the children should be fed “first.” And yet, the woman was granted her request because she answered wisely, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Just as children often give the dogs portions of their food before they have finished eating, even so this woman wanted to receive the benefits of Jesus’ ministry before it would be expanded to the larger Gentile world in the future.
The fact that something is counter-intuitive is not necessarily an indication that we are misreading the text. Much of what Jesus has to say is counter-intuitive and often necessitates that we change what is intuitive, not that we re-interpret the text so that it doesn’t offend out sensibilities.
Yes the word used here refers, literally, to a “little dog” or a “lapdog.” But the fact that the insult is softened doesn’t mean it isn’t an insult. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves about the woman’s response and how Jesus in turn responds to her humility. Even if you somehow ignore the “insult” Jesus still spent a great deal of time intentionally ignoring the woman’s cries for help – so much time, in fact, that the disciples finally couldn’t take it anymore and asked Jesus to just send her away.
How is that any better? Does it really make us feel better that Jesus didn’t insult her, just ignored her fervent cries for help until the disciples couldn’t take it anymore? Doesn’t that in and of itself seem insensitive and uncaring? Maybe, instead of trying to make Jesus fit our western sensibilities of what is caring and sensitive and polite, we should ask ourselves why Jesus did this, what the significance of the woman’s response is in light of Jesus’ identity, and how Jesus responds to her humility.
This isn’t an easy story. It’s a tough one that we are meant to struggle with. And whitewashing it by saying Jesus really wasn’t insulting her, he wasn’t really ignoring her, he really wasn’t acting insensitively, doesn’t do justice to why it was recorded for us in the first place. Like Chris: You’re right, whitewashing just doesn’t cut it. So here’s my take on why this this story was recorded.
But first some backgrounder. Hatred between Jews and Samaritans was fierce and long-standing. In some ways, it dated all the way back to the days of the patriarchs. Jacob (or Israel) had twelve sons, whose descendants became twelve tribes. Joseph, his favorite, was despised by the other brothers (Gen. 37:3-4), and they attempted to do away with him.
Before his death, Jacob gave Joseph a blessing in which he called him a “fruitful bough by a well” (Gen. 49:22). The blessing was fulfilled, as the territory allotted to the tribes of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim (“doubly fruitful”) and Manasseh, was the fertile land that eventually became Samaria.
Later, Israel divided into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom, called Israel, established its capital first at Shechem, a revered site in Jewish history, and later at the hilltop city of Samaria. In 722 B.C. Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity. The invaders then brought in Gentile colonists “from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim” (2 Kin.
17:24) to resettle the land. The foreigners brought with them their pagan idols, which the remaining Jews began to worship alongside the God of Israel (2 Kin.
17:29-41). Intermarriages also took place (Ezra 9:1-10:44;Neh. 13:23-28 ). Meanwhile, the southern kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon in 600 B.C. Its people, too, were carried off into captivity. But 70 years later, a remnant of 43,000 was permitted to return and rebuild Jerusalem. The people who now inhabited the former northern kingdom—the Samaritans—vigorously opposed the repatriation and tried to undermine the attempt to reestablish the nation.
For their part, the full-blooded, monotheistic Jews detested the mixed marriages and worship of their northern cousins.
So walls of bitterness were erected on both sides and did nothing but harden for the next 550 years. There are countless modern parallels to the Jewish-Samaritan enmity—indeed, wherever peoples are divided by racial and ethnic barriers. Perhaps that’s why the Gospels and Acts provide so many instances of Samaritans coming into contact with the message of Jesus.
It is not the person from the radically different culture on the other side of the world that is hardest to love, but the nearby neighbor whose skin color, language, rituals, values, ancestry, history, and customs are different from one’s own. Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans and this is further illustrated when Jesus asked another Samaritan woman for a drink of water at Jacob’s well as recounted in JOHN 4:5-42.
5 So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 and Jacob’s well was there. [Commentators long made the mistake of supposing that Shechem, now called Nablous, was the town here called Sychar. Sheckem lies a mile and a half west of Jacob’s well, while the real Sychar, now called ‘Askar, lies scarcely half a mile north of the well. It was a small town, loosely called a city, and adjoined the land which Jacob gave to Joseph ( Genesis 33:19 ; 47:22 ; Joshua 24:32 ), Joseph’s tomb being about one hundred yards east of it.
The mummy of Joseph, carried out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, was buried in this parcel of ground, and there is but little doubt that it really rests in the place indicated by the tomb; and though the name Sychar may be derived from the words “liar” or “drunkard,” it is more likely that it means “town of the sepulchre,” referring to this tomb. The Old Testament is silent as to when or why Jacob dug this well.
It lies on the southern the plain of Moreh (now called el-Mukhnah), about a hundred yards south of the foot of Mt. Gerizim. It is one of the few Biblical sites about which there is no dispute, and probably the only place on earth where one can draw a circle of a few feet, and say confidently that the feet of Christ have stood within the circumference.
Maundrell, who visited it in 1697, said that it was 105 feet deep, and had in it fifteen feet of water. But travelers have thrown stones into it to sound its depth, until at present it is only sixty-six feet deep, and has no water in it except in very wet winters. It is seven and half feet in diameter, and is walled with masonry to a depth of about ten feet, below which it is cut through the solid rock. It lies 400 nearly due south from Joseph’s tomb. As the neighborhood abounds in springs, the well would hardly have been dug save by one who wished to be independent of his neighbors–as Jacob did.] Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus by the well.
[John gives us important items as to the humanity of Jesus. He tells us how he sat as a wayworn traveler, hungry and thirsty, at Jacob’s well; and he alone records the words, “I thirst,” spoken on the cross ( John 19:28 ). The top of the well is arched over like a cistern, and a round opening is left about twenty inches in diameter.
On this arch or curbing Jesus sat. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water [She was not of the city of Samaria (which was then called Sebaste–the Greek word for Augustus–in honor of Augustus Cæsar, who had given it to Herod the Great), but a woman of the lay between Judæa and Galilee, and reached from the Jordan on the east to the Mediterranean on the west, comprising the country formerly occupied by the tribe of Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh]: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food. [Had the disciples been present they would have bargained with the woman for the use of her rope and pitcher; but in their absence Jesus himself asked her for a drink. He met her on the ground of a common humanity, and conceded to her the power of conferring a favor. Women have been immemorially the water-carriers in the East ( Genesis 24:13 Genesis 24:14 ; Exodus 2:16 ).
Palestine is in summer a parched land, inducing intense thirst, and the people usually comply cheerfully with the request for water; it was probably so in Jesus’ day ( Matthew 10:42 ). Mohammed commanded that water should never be refused.] 9 The Samaritan woman therefore saith unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew [as his language and dress declared], askest drink of me, whom am a Samaritan woman?
(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) [It is not likely that she meant to refuse his request, but she yielded to the temptation to banter one who she thought despised her, and whose necessities now caused him for a moment to forget his pride. The ancestors of the Samaritans were introduced into the land of Israel by the king of Assyria, after he led the ten tribes into captivity ( 2 Kings 17:24-41 ).
When the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon and began to rebuild their temple, the Samaritans asked permission to build with them, and when this was refused, an enmity arose between the two people which never died out ( 4:1-5 ; Nehemiah 2:10 Nehemiah 2:19 ; 4:1-3 ). We must, however, restrict the word “dealings” to social intercourse. Race antipathy did not ordinarily interfere with trade or other matters involving money, as is shown by verse 8 above. According to later tradition, a Jew accepted no hospitality from a Samaritan, and to eat his bread as a guest was as polluting as to eat swine’s flesh, but such social which Jesus here asked.
There are to-day between one and two hundred Samaritans dwelling in Shechem at the foot of Mt. Gerizim, and Dr. Robinson says of them that they “neither eat, nor drink, nor marry with the Jews, but only trade with them.”] I submit that the woman did not answer Jesus with humility but with wit and that wit cleverly put Jesus in an awkward position that cut into the traditional model with which Jesus had been educated by.
Jesus’ quick response to the woman was out of humility on Jesus’ part but he credited it to the faith/persistence of the woman. Jesus’ pride was cut to the quick and he repented with sorrow immediately as he agreed to fulfill the woman’s request to help her daughter. Jesus did insult the woman. Jesus was brought up and indoctrinated like other Jews in his neighborhood that the Samaritan Jews were not worthy to associate with the “true” monotheistic Jews of Jesus ilk; this rift was hundreds of years old between the two Kingdoms and the despise into which Jesus was born and educated by the social and long standing customs of his day.
This is not to say that I fault Jesus. Jesus was fast enough within his own humanity to understand that the despised approach he had been taught was wrong and he immediately took steps to resolve it. Perfection is not never having to say you’re sorry but rather saying you’re sorry when truth hearkens you to it. This is one of the great lessons that Jesus demonstrates. I believe this lesson however has fallen on deaf ears, lost and has been abrogated by the traditional view that Jesus, as God-perfect, could never have fallen down, skinned his knees, elbows and shins; then, run, crying and clinging to his mother’s skirt for comfort that maternal love must tend to us from time to time as a child romping in the street with our village pals growing up.
Jesus had a remarkable grasp on humanity and an uncanny common sense way of seeing things. Like November 2012 M T W T F S S 2 3 4 5 8 9 10 11 14 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 28 30 Categories • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Archives • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
best jewish man dating gentile woman jesus called a dog tag made - 23. The Faith Of A Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:21
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Question: "Why did Jesus call the Canaanite woman a dog?" Answer: In Matthew 15:21–28, Jesus encounters a Canaanite (Syrophoenician) woman who begs Him to cure her daughter. Jesus initially refuses her request by saying, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26).
Taken out of context, and especially in English, it’s easy to mistake this for an insult. In the flow of the story, however, it’s clear Jesus is creating a metaphor meant to explain the priorities of His ministry. He is also teaching an important lesson to His disciples.
Jews in Jesus’ day sometimes referred to Gentiles as “dogs.” In Greek, this word is kuon, meaning “wild cur” (Matthew 7:6; Luke 16:21; Philippians 3:2). Non-Jews were considered so unspiritual that even being in their presence could make a person ceremonially unclean (John 18:28). Much of Jesus’ ministry, however, involved turning expectations and prejudices on their heads (Matthew 11:19; John 4:9–10).
According to Matthew’s narrative, Jesus left Israel and went into Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile territory (Matthew 15:21). When the Canaanite woman approached and repeatedly asked for healing, the disciples were annoyed and asked Jesus to send her away (Matthew 15:23).
At this point, Jesus explained His current ministry in a way that both the woman and the watching disciples could understand. At that time, His duty was to the people of Israel, not to the Gentiles (Matthew 15:24). Recklessly taking His attention from Israel, in violation of His mission, would be like a father taking food from his children in order to throw it to their pets (Matthews 15:26).
The exact word Jesus used here, in Greek, was kunarion, meaning “small dog” or “pet dog.” This is a completely different word from the term kuon, used to refer to unspiritual people or to an “unclean” animal.
Jesus frequently tested people to prove their intentions, often through response questions or challenges (see John 4:16–18; and 4:50–53). His response to the Canaanite woman is similar. In testing her, Jesus declined her request and explained that she had no legitimate expectation of His help. The woman, however, lived out the principle Jesus Himself taught in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1–8). Her response proved that she understood fully what Jesus was saying, yet had enough conviction to ask anyway (Matthew 15:27).
Jesus acknowledged her faith—calling it “great”—and granted her request (Matthew 15:28). So, according to both the context and language involved, Jesus wasn’t referring to the Canaanite woman as a “dog,” either directly or indirectly. He wasn’t using an epithet or racial slur but making a point about the priorities He’d been given by God.
He was also testing the faith of the woman and teaching an important lesson to His disciples. Recommended Resource:
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