The Syrophoenician Woman
Read: Mark 7:24-30
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is NIV.
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
Her little girl lay demon-possessed at home. As soon as she heard Jesus was in town, she raced to Him and threw herself at His feet. She was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She was clearly not a Jew, yet she had the nerve to ask Jesus to heal her daughter. A mother, clearly at her wit’s end, desperate to have her daughter made whole, begged this man to heal her child.
At first glance, Jesus’ response may seem out of character with what we’ve come to expect from this man who spent His life as a living example and, later, a sacrifice to show His love. But when we dig into the scripture and look at the original Greek text, we can see His intentions better of putting off this desperate mama.
As she lay at His feet, begging, Jesus’ response was, ‘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, Lord.’ she replied, ‘but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’
Then he told her, ‘For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.’
She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:27-30)
Jesus seems harsh, almost cold to this woman who’s pleading for her child’s life. This stands in stark contrast to the Jesus who cried when His friend Lazarus died, who spoke so tenderly to the Woman at the Well, and who said, “Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14). Why is this so?
When we dig a little deeper into the original language used, we can see so much about our beautiful Savior. One being that He had a sense of humor and didn’t shy away from using irony to make a point.
Verse 27: One such tongue-in-cheek phrase: “…for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
The Quest Study Bible commentary offers this: “Using the word dogs, commonly used by Jews to describe Gentiles, may have been sarcasm—his [Jesus’] way to make a point that demean others is alien to the heart of God.” 
Also in that same commentary:
“Jesus was not forcing the Gentile woman to beg, but was perhaps probing the depth of her faith in the God of Israel. Or, he may have been teaching his disciples a lesson in the universal love of God. The woman’s persistence indicates she sensed something from Jesus that encouraged her to continue asking—perhaps a twinkle in his eye, or a warmth in his tone of voice.”
In addressing the woman’s freedom to continue her plea, the Blue Letter Bible offers this for the original Greek text in verse 28 (“she replied”): apokrinomai, which means, “1. to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer and 2. to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer.
It can be safely inferred, from the definition of the original Greek text, that Jesus was leading this woman to the conclusion that even “dogs” (Gentiles) were worthy of the Father’s healing. This is a BIG deal, because it points to salvation being not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. In this one conversation, seemingly innocuous and cold, this Gentile woman inferred correctly that the Lord loves Gentiles, in addition to the Jews.
How magnificent is that! We, as the readers, can see the beautiful allusion to us today and our future in the Father’s kingdom. Perhaps she couldn’t make such a fantastic mental leap at the time, because she was consumed with fear for her daughter, but she certainly had no doubt that the Lord was in her midst that day, when she arrived home to find her daughter healthy and healed.
And how outstanding is it to see a side of our Savior, that we may have missed tucked away in 6 small verses of scripture? Our Jesus—the Son of the Most High, the Word, the Lamb of God—revealed God’s plan for Salvation—the very salvation that Jesus Himself would provide by His own death and resurrection—and He did it with a twinkle in His eye!
Written by Mandy.
S o u r c es
 The Quest Study Bible, NIV, 1983, Zondervan
D I G G I N G D E E P E R
Jesus never missed opportunities to present truth to those around him. As He continued to reveal the full scope of salvation to man, He made a point to reveal each of the intricate aspects of the Salvation gift. The Syrophoenician woman was probably accustomed to exclusion, and possibly even mistreatment, at the hands of the Jews. Yet, still she came. She came requesting a Salvation she could not yet begin to understand. She listened to Jesus and heard the tone of His reply and then she responded. She listened closely and was therefore able to grasp that Jesus was in agreement with her; that her asking was not out of line and instead was just what He came to earth for.
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