This: “Christians do not need to make Judaism look bad to make Jesus look good.” ☑️
Marjorie, I agree with you. That was one thing that bothered me in today’s Musing. I, too, don’t think they were there for any reason other than to spy and she gave them the cover and protection they needed.
Teri, I sooooooo realize that my comment was harsh....for the church "leader," but truth is truth.
Good exegesis, clearing the air. But what was Jesus doing in Tyre? He was apparently hiding out, trying to get away from the crush and take a break. How does the "Canaanite"woman know who he is? If Matthew is following Mark and yet changes her identity to a Canaanite from a Phoenician, why does he want to do that? Tyre was originally a Phoenician colony. Recalling Tamar and Rahab, both women forced into prostitution, may well be one reason (although the spies in Jericho were not looking for sex!).
The effect of the woman's intervention is that Jesus goes back to his ministry in Israel. One might say that the woman was inspired to recognize him, as well as having the fortitude to push back. And Jesus was amazed, meaning he learned something, which of course he had to do all his life, like the rest of us. And maybe he heard the implicit message: back to work.
For many years I've been interested in "the center", probably since first reading Yeats' "Second Coming" in university. His poem describes the loss of a centering focus in our world, so apt in these days of turmoil: Climate Change, Political Unrest, ever present War, and a world seemingly out of control. "Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer, things fall apart, the center cannot hold..." It seems such a description of our present world.
The poetry selection you included directed me toward the Personal Center:
"You must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do." Certainly there's a need in a world losing a global focus for each of us to realize we have as well our personal center as well as our part in the collective, and that might be the only centering we can possibly control, and the only one to offer us peace.
Sound encouraging. What denomination is this church
This is one of my favourite bible passages. Never seen it in any negative light. The woman with an issue of blood was called and named for her faith as one example of a woman of strength and courage.
This is how l have always seen it played out. Jesus knew her, the details of those present; and about to be taught in a great way, including his disciples to whom he didn't give heed.
She strikes me as strong and determined. Jesus spoke thoughts aloud that others seemed to have, but he was fixed on this woman. Drawing out the statements, then showing those watching that He was consistent and giving her that deepest desire and high praise for her faith.
l love this conversation and it fills me with joy and encouragement that Jesus hears and answers a strong, bright woman. Not word play, but showing Him interacting l like to think, with a small smile and a joyful heart at what was accomplished in His name that day.
Don't be afraid to ask, and keep asking Jesus just as this amazingly powerful story says to me at least.
Definitely a teaching moment for Jesus...an AH-HA moment if one will. And one with many interpretations.
And now a question: Was this incident at the beginning of Jesus's ministry....the time I think of as the first awakening (thank you DBB) and the beginning of "the way" that set us on the path to where we are today.
Thank you, Dr. Levine. This is the best interpretation of this difficult passage I have ever encountered in my long journey as a (increasingly disillusioned) Christian. My husband and I have long appreciated your perspectives through the Great Courses.
The final interpretation of this incident presented today is well taken, but I take issue with assuming the two spies were "using" Rahab in an immoral or unethical way. Nothing is said in the scripture to indicate that. I disagree that they were not there on reconnaissance. They were spies. She might have been the only one willing to house them and staying with a prostitute might have prevented suspicion. The men kept their promise and she was protected when Jericho when down. To assume the worst without evidence is the problem of society. We need to be careful not to read into scripture what we want to see. I realize that is tempting for all of us.
A fourth take on this episode which has also been dismissed in favor of Jesus being taught a lesson by this outsider is Jesus parroting a narrow view of for whom he has come. Interesting that Matthew, with its interest in the Gentile mission, should describe the woman as a Canaanite (ancient pagans to have been wiped out by Israel?), whereas Mark calls her a "greek" (NT for "gentile") Syrophoenician woman - which makes sense. What's Jesus doing in the district of Tyre & Sidon, anyway! OK, Jews did live in the region. The epithet "dog" occurs disparagingly in 1 Samuel 17:43 & 24:14, but dogs were not "unclean" and there are accounts of favorable attitudes toward them by Jews. Those OT examples probably imply a relatively low significance. Jezebel's fate was also about as low as it could be with the dogs eating her corpse. Speaking of which, she was from Sidon, but what a contrast when Elijah is sent to and cared for by the widow of Zarapeth near Sidon! Nasty thing for Jesus to hurl this retort at the woman. She's not important. Jesus' mission is, well, to Israel, no? Quite inconsistent, too, with the position of the Shammai school of pharisees dominant at this time. The woman knows the Greco-Roman practice of tossing tables scraps to their pet dogs under the table. But of course, not the food off their childrens' plates! I don't know but that there is a setup, here. And this woman has shown the courage of a mother desparate for her child and called Jesus on his words. Great call. (BTW, she called him "Son of David". What's that about?!) Oh, and if anyone has been given a comeupance, it's the disciples. Clever.
What I found particularly interesting is the contrast between Matthew and Mark. Mark has her a Greek, while Matthew has her as a Canaanite. Given that the Canaanites were oppressed by the Children of Israel, in the invasion, might not the important thing have been that she was an outsider, an other, and she reminded Jesus of the track 2 Hebrew Bible reading for today Isaiah 56, which has God's concern spread to the Gentiles (and Paul wondering why they did not accept Jesus) Romans 11. The story works when you look in this context.
For anyone who found the quote from Suzanne Guthrie particularly powerful, the longer meditation that the quote comes from can be found at Suzanne's website At the Edge of the Enclosure, http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/proper15a.html for this particular meditation.
I highly recommend Suzanne's website and reflections as additional resources in "unpacking" Sunday Gospel passages in new and different ways.
Amazingly, I was quoting AJ Levine and DBB in my Centering Prayer group this week--and voila!! They both appeared together this morning!!
Thanks for a great guest post. I especially appreciate this conclusion: "Jesus here grows in wisdom," just as he did earlier in life, according to Luke 2:52. I believe this exchange with the Canaanite woman is the only "argument" that Jesus loses. Is that correct?
Of course, he does not count it as a loss, but as a gain. Jesus is bested by the Canaanite woman's wit, and he knows it. He could refuse her request out of bitterness. Instead he grants the request, paying tribute to her success at overcoming his objections.
Isn’t this a wonderful example of how a teacher grows through teaching, adapting their skill to the neighbor, the need, and the moment? It is a human moment, to be sure – one created by human divisions, human ingenuity, and human warmth. Thank god.
I am 84 years old and have been waiting for someone to do a sermon on Uppity Women, like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, etc, etc. Women who held their ground. I am glad that Matthew included this story. We forget the humanness of Jesus. But instead of digging in his heels, Jesus listens and is moved to change his attitude. Unfortunately, there are still too many men that don’t like to be challenged, particularly by a woman.