Matthew 15:22-28 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not 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 came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Many people think that it was offensive for Jesus to call this Canaanite woman a dog. However, I looked up the explanation for this on the Christian Apologist site christian-thinktank.com.
Here is one of their explanations:
The image Jesus has chosen is an image of endearment, not insult. The picture of supper-time, with little kids at the table, and their pet “puppies” (the Greek word for ‘dog’ here is not the standard, ‘outside’ dog–which MIGHT BE an insult–, but is the diminutive word, meaning ‘household pets, little dogs’…) at their feet, maybe tugging on their robes for food or play. The puppies, dear to the children and probably so too to the master (cf. 2 Sam 12.3f: but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.), were to be fed AFTER the children (notice: not DENIED food–there was no “NO” in Jesus image–only “WAIT”). But the temporal order is clear–Jesus must take care of His disciples FIRST, and if meeting her need involved interrupting their rest and GOING SOMEWHERE, then it was going to have to wait.
I guess the woman’s reaction was unmerited when she responded “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” She must have misunderstood Jesus’ “image of endearment.”
[Read today’s reading in The Brick Testament – An Illustrated Bible]