Who Left The Dogs Out?

Just a quick one, for an explanation of this parable about a Syrophoenician woman, children, dogs and crumbs. It always seemed harsh to me given that Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (even towards people who hate us, as Jesus’s example the “good Samaritan” did). But as usual Jesus puts a twist on it, and our hearts have to be in that right place to get it. Here is the text, combined and grammar modernized from Mark 7:25-30 and Matthew 15:21-28 (NIV);

“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. He entered a house and didn’t want anyone to know it; but he couldn’t keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, A Greek/Canaanite woman, born nearby in Syrian Phoenicia, came to him crying out, “Sir, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus didn’t answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the children’s crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.”

Supposedly, as the Jews are the “children” (of Israel), then Gentiles would be the dogs. The word used for dogs is the diminutive “puppies” (kynaria) rather than the primitive noun “dogs” (kynos).

BUT… who is the one who has real faith, in this story? Who is the true child? 

Yes, SHE is the child here, while the disciples are the puppies who need to be taught! Jesus is giving a wink and a nod to her, and she gets it!

I guess that’s all!  


(Note: I first heard this interpretation in the book “Kingdom, Grace, Judgment” by Robert Farrar Capon. He can be somewhat glib, but he is all about the GRACE. Here is a description from Amazon:

“Here in one volume is Robert Farrar Capon’s widely praised trilogy on Jesus’ parables ― The Parables of the Kingdom, The Parables of Grace, and The Parables of Judgment. These studies offer a fresh, adventurous look at all of Jesus’ parables, treated according to their major themes. With the same authorial flair and daring insight that have earned him a wide readership, Capon admirably bridges the gap between the biblical world and our own, making clear both the original meaning of the parables and their continuing relevance today.”)

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