Today I want to discuss The Bible, Racism & Breaking Through To Achieve Goals, Mark 7: 24 – 30 tells us how The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith Fulfilled Her Family, and Jesus healed her daughter. It reads …
25-26 …a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. Resolving Racism by Focussing Our Faith on Christ, vs. Magnifying Mischief to blame others in an unforgivable manner. Rioting, tearing and burning things down result from forgiveness.
Let’s Look at The Cultural Background To This Story:
During scriptural times Israel did not treat dogs as “man’s best friend.” Shepherds, who used them as partners to assist in herding and protecting sheep may have felt that way (Job 30:1), but few others did. Among Israelis dogs were regarded as wild, savage, undomesticated animals that prowled city streets as scavengers, with no masters and no homes. Numerous verses in 1st & 2nd Kings reference that dogs will eat the remains of wicked rulers. (1Kings 14:11, 16: 4, 21:23-24 and in 2 Kings 9: 10 & 36).
The Gentiles, by contrast, treated dogs as preferred pets and essential companions. Jesus being in territory where masters cherish their pet dogs, thus likens this woman to one, who is subordinate occupying a rightful place under the table at the feet of their caring masters. Where incidentally the woman had placed herself at the feet of Jesus. The woman’s sharp Syrophoenician cultural instincts makes a faithful response to reply, “Yes, Lord, I understand and accept my position; for the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.”
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Would you say that characterizing Syrophoenicians as “dogs” was
- Racist – which is believing a particular race is superior to another . (Maybe yes and maybe no.
- A cultural way ethnicities refer to those whom they dislike, which in this case was Gentiles.
- Something all Gentiles should have gotten upset about and used the Division of Human Rights or the Dept of Justice to sue anyone who used the term!
- The opportunity for the Syrophoenician woman to petition the government to make people like her a specially disengaged class of victim, so government power would persecute anyone who said something she did not like?
- It an opportunity for her to sue Jesus for defamation and demand that He heal her daughter in return. (I doubt if we’ll get a chance to make that case on Judgement Day!)
Obviously the woman took what Christ said from the perspective of b) a cultural way ethnicities refer to those whom they dislike, which in this case was Gentiles.
Do you think she would have gotten her daughter healed had she been overly sensitive and gotten upset at the reference to “dogs?