Giving them the crumbs under the table.
Whilst Jesus was visiting Tyre and Sidon, a Canaanite woman asked him to heal her daughter. Of what the girl was to be cured of is unimportant, in the context of this article.
When Jesus spoke to her, he said something that probably seems odd to most people, it did to me. He said “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (Mat. 15: 26 NIVUK). Her reply: “Yes it is, Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Mat. 15: 27 NIVUK). As a result of the woman’s reply Jesus healed her daughter, but what had the dogs got to do with anything?
As well as the question of the dogs, it was highly unusual for Jesus to change his mind about anything, as he apparently did in this situation. He healed the woman’s daughter, after she had challenged him. The challenge in itself was highly unusual, especially from a woman in those times. When a person seeks a boon, or favour from a figure of authority, a challenge to the decision would often be seen as a challenge to authority. that would not be permitted. It must have taken quite a lot of nerve to challenge jesus in that way.
And the dogs? I discovered recently that Jews then were known to use the term “dog” as a derogatory term for gentiles, those not of the Jewish faith. With a little further research, I also found out that Tyre and Sidon were not within Jewish territory. My understanding of the passage in which this text had always been poor but this minor revelation has helped to shed some light on it.
Was the woman a jew, living in gentile territory? We are not told. If she were, might the reference to dogs imply she had given food to gentiles?
With thanks to Curate Beverly, for inspiring
this post with her sermon on this passage.