Matthew 15:27 MEANING

Matthew 15:27
(27) Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs.--The insertion of the conjunction "for" in the Greek gives it a force which it is hard to reproduce in English, "Yet grant what I ask, for the dogs under the table . . ." The woman catches at the form which had softened the usual word of scorn, and presses the privilege which it implied. She did not ask that the "children" might be deprived of any fragment of their portion; but taking her place, contentedly, among the "dogs," she could still claim Him as her Master, and ask for the "crumbs" of His mercy. The Talmud contains a story so singularly parallel to this that it is worth reproducing. "There was a famine in the land, and stores of corn were placed under the care of Rabbi Jehudah the Holy, to be distributed to those only who were skilled in the knowledge of the Law. And, behold, a man came, Jonathan, the son of Amram, and clamorously asked for his portion. The Rabbi asked him whether he knew the condition, and had fulfilled it, and then the supplicant changed his tone, and said, 'Nay, but feed me as a dog is fed, who eats of the crumbs of the feast,' and the Rabbi hearkened to his words, and gave him of the corn."

Verse 27. - And she said, Truth, Lord; or better, but she said, Yea, Lord (Revised Version). Christ's answer might have seemed the climax of rejection, and to have at once closed the matter forever. But her love for her daughter, and her growing faith in Jesus, overcame all seeming hindrances. With a woman's ready wit, quickened by urgency and affection, she seizes the opportunity, and turns Christ's own words against himself. Thou sayest truth, she means; the Jews are the children; we are the dogs; and as dogs we claim our portion. This we can receive without defrauding the children of any of their food. Yet; καὶ, or καὶ γὰρ, for even; nam et (Vulgate). The Authorized Version injures the significance of the mother's reply, as if there were something adversative in the particles, which really introduce the confirmation of her assent. The dogs eat of the crumbs, etc. Dogs in the East have access to the rooms, and live on what they can pick up or on what is thrown to them. The fragments at meals were naturally numerous, the abundance being occasioned by the nature of the food, the use of fingers instead of spoons and forks, and the employment of pieces of bread as platters and napkins. We may paraphrase the Canaanite's reply thus: By calling us dogs, you virtually grant what I desire. You can do what I wish without infringing your rule, in the justice of which I humbly acquiesce. I claim nothing as a daughter of Abraham; I look only for uncovenanted mercies; I ask only for that portion which falls to the lot of the creatures which hold the lowest place in the household, and the loss of which will never be felt. Truly by humbling her Jesus educated her, taught her that her real plea was her unworthiness, that in acknowledgment of her degradation lay the force of her appeal. And in asking for this one act of mercy she is doing no wrong to the sons of the house.

15:21-28 The dark corners of the country, the most remote, shall share Christ's influences; afterwards the ends of the earth shall see his salvation. The distress and trouble of her family brought a woman to Christ; and though it is need that drives us to Christ, yet we shall not therefore be driven from him. She did not limit Christ to any particular instance of mercy, but mercy, mercy, is what she begged for: she pleads not merit, but depends upon mercy. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and to be earnest in prayer for them, especially for their souls. Have you a son, a daughter, grievously vexed with a proud devil, an unclean devil, a malicious devil, led captive by him at his will? this is a case more deplorable than that of bodily possession, and you must bring them by faith and prayer to Christ, who alone is able to heal them. Many methods of Christ's providence, especially of his grace, in dealing with his people, which are dark and perplexing, may be explained by this story, which teaches that there may be love in Christ's heart while there are frowns in his face; and it encourages us, though he seems ready to slay us, yet to trust in him. Those whom Christ intends most to honour, he humbles to feel their own unworthiness. A proud, unhumbled heart would not have borne this; but she turned it into an argument to support her request. The state of this woman is an emblem of the state of a sinner, deeply conscious of the misery of his soul. The least of Christ is precious to a believer, even the very crumbs of the Bread of life. Of all graces, faith honours Christ most; therefore of all graces Christ honours faith most. He cured her daughter. He spake, and it was done. From hence let such as seek help from the Lord, and receive no gracious answer, learn to turn even their unworthiness and discouragements into pleas for mercy.And she saith, truth, Lord,.... She owns all that he had said to be true, that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: that she was indeed but a dog, a poor sinful creature, and unworthy of any favour; and that it was not right and fitting that all the children's bread should be taken from them and given to dogs:

yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. The Syriac and Persic versions add "and live": thus she wisely lays hold upon and improves in a very beautiful manner, in her own favour, what seemed to be so much against her. It is observed (q) of the Syrophoenicians in general, that they have all, in their common talk, something "pleasant and graceful", as there is indeed in this smart reply of her's, who was one of that people. She suggests that though the Gentiles were but dogs, and she one of them; yet their common Lord and Master had a propriety in them, and they in him; and were to be maintained and fed, and ought to live, though not in such fulness of favours and blessings, as the Jews, the children of God: nor did she desire their affluence, only that a crumb of mercy might be given her, that her poor daughter might be healed; which was but a small favour, in comparison of the numerous ones he heaped upon the children, the Jews: nor would this be any more detrimental to them, than it is to the children, for the dogs, under the table, to eat of the crumbs that fall.

(q) Eunapius in Vita Libanii.

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