Matthew 15:22
And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
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(22) A woman of Canaan.—The terms Canaanite and Canaan, which in the earlier books of the Old Testament were often applied in a wider sense to all the original inhabitants of what was afterwards the land of Israel (Genesis 10:18; Genesis 12:6; Judges 1:10), were used more specifically of Phœnicia and its inhabitants (Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Ezra 9:1, and elsewhere), and are employed here with that meaning. St. Mark describes her more definitely as “a Greek” (i.e., a heathen, the name “Greek” having gained a wider connotation, much as “Frank” has done in recent times), a “Syro-Phœnician by nation.”

Came out of the same coasts.—Better, of those regions, coming forth (i.e., from some house or village), cried . . .

O Lord, thou son of David.—The words show that the fame of the Prophet of Nazareth had travelled beyond the limits of Galilee, and that He was known to the people of the Tyre and Sidon district by the most popular of the Messianic names. This was natural enough, even if we think only of popular rumours as the channel through which the fame had reached her. Luke 6:17, however, suggests a more direct source of knowledge. Among the multitude that listened to the Sermon on the Plain, and brought those that were “vexed with unclean spirits,” had been people “from the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon.” The mother of the demoniac daughter may well have cherished for months the hope that one day the great Deliverer would come within her reach. And now, beyond all expectation, He had come across the boundary of Israel, and she saw Him in her own country. St. Mark adds, significantly, that “He would have no man know” of His presence, but He “could not be hid” (Mark 7:24). The scene, as described by St. Mark, was in the house into which He had retired in order to avoid notice.

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.A woman of Canaan - This woman is called, also, a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, Mark 7:26

In ancient times, the whole land, including Tyre and Sidon, was in the possession of the Canaanites, and called Canaan. The Phoenicians were descended from the Canaanites. The country, including Tyre and Sidon, was called Phoenicia, or Syro-Phoenicia. That country was taken by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, and those cities, in the time of Christ, were Greek cities. This woman was therefore a Gentile, living under the Greek government, and probably speaking the Greek language. She was by birth a Syro-Phoenician, born in that country, and descended, therefore, from the ancient Canaanites. All these names might, with propriety, be given to her.

Coasts - Regions or countries.

Thou son of David - Descendant of David. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. The phrase here means the Messiah.

Is grievously vexed with a devil - See the notes at Matthew 4:24. The woman showed great earnestness. She cried unto him, and fell at his feet, Mark 7:25.

Mt 15:21-28. The Woman of Canaan and Her Daughter.

For the exposition, see on [1309]Mr 7:24-30.

See Poole on "Matthew 15:23".

And behold a woman of Canaan,.... That is, of Phoenicia, which was called Canaan; so Shaul, the son of a Canaanitish woman, is, by the Septuagint in Exodus 6:15 called the son of a Phoenician; and the kings of Canaan are, by the same interpreters in Joshua 5:1 called kings of Phoenicia: hence this woman is by Mark said to be a Greek, that is, a Gentile, as the Jews used to call all of another nation, and a Syrophenician, being a native of Phoenicia, called Syrophenician; because it bordered upon Syria, and had been formerly a part of it, by conquest: so Cadmus, who is reported to have first brought letters from Phoenicia to Greece, is called (i) a Syrophenician merchant.

Came out of the same coasts; being an inhabitant, it is very likely, either of Tyre or Sidon: this shows that Christ did not go into these places, but only to the borders of them, since she is said to come out of them to him; who, having heard of him, and the miraculous cures wrought by him, and being informed that he was near, at such a place, as the Persic version says, "suddenly came forth out of a corner"; and the Ethiopic reads it, "out of the mountains thereof"; and made to the house where he was privately retired, and would have hid himself, as Mark suggests,

and cried unto him; with a loud voice, with much vehemency, being in great distress,

saying, have mercy on me; meaning, by curing her daughter, with whose case she was so much affected, that she made it, as it were, her own:

O Lord, thou son of David. The first of these characters expresses her faith in his power, dominion, and government, that all persons and things, and so all diseases were at his command, and control; and that being Lord of all, he could remove them at his pleasure: the other shows her knowledge and belief of him, as the Messiah, that being a name by which he was usually known by the Jews; See Gill on Matthew 1:1 and which she, though a Gentile, might come at the knowledge of, either through being a proselyte to the Jewish religion, or through a general report which might reach, especially the neighbouring nations, that the Jews expected a wonderful deliverer to arise among them, under this character of the son of David; and from what she had heard of him, she concluded he must be the person.

My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil, which had took possession of her, and most grievously afflicted her: and her request to him was, that he would cast him out of her: believing he had power so to do, without seeing or touching her, only by a word speaking: her faith was like that of the centurion's.

(i) Lucian. Dialog. Deor. Coneil. sect. 2,

And, behold, a woman of {f} Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

(f) Of the people of the Canaanites, who dwelt in Phoenicia.

Matthew 15:22. Χαναναῖα] Several tribes of the Canaanites, כְּנַעֲנִי, who were the original inhabitants of Palestine, went and settled in the north, and founded what was subsequently known as the Phoenician nation, Winer, Realwörterbuch. Lightfoot on this passage.

ἐξελθοῦσα] She crossed the frontier into the contiguous territory of the Jews, where Jesus happened to be. According to Paulus, the woman came out of her house; according to de Wette, Bleek: from some place nearer the centre of the country. Both views are in opposition to the terms of our passage, which plainly state where she came out from.

υἱὲ Δαυ.] She so addresses Jesus, because, from living in the neighbourhood of the Jews, she was familiar with their Messianic expectations, and with the Messiah’s title, as well as with the Messianic reputation of Jesus. Looking to what is said in Matthew 15:26, she cannot be supposed to have been a proselyte of the gate. The Gentiles also believed in demoniacal possession.

ἐλέησόν με] “Suam fecerat pia mater miseriam filiae,” Bengel.

Matthew 15:22. Χαναναία: the Phoenicians were descended from a colony of Canaanites, the original inhabitants of Palestine, Genesis 10:15 (vide Benzinger, Heb. Arch., p. 63). Vide notes on Mk.—ἐλ. με, pity me, the mother’s heart speaks.—υἱὲ Δ. The title and the request imply some knowledge of Jesus. Whence got? Was she a proselyte? (De Wette.) Or had the fame of Jesus spread thus far, the report of a wonderful healer who passed among the Jews for a descendant of David? The latter every way likely, cf. Matthew 4:24. There would be some intercourse between the borderers, though doubtless also prejudices and enmities.

22. a woman of Canaan] Called in Mark “a Greek, a Syrophœnician by nation.” The two expressions are identical, for the land of Canaan, literally, the low lands or netherlands, at first applicable to the whole of Palestine, was confined in later times to the maritime plain of Phœnicia. In Joshua 5:12 “the land of Canaan” appears in the LXX. version as the “land of the Phœnicians.” The important point is that this woman was a foreigner and a heathen—a descendant of the worshippers of Baal. She may have heard and seen Jesus in earlier days. Cp. Mark 3:8, “they about Tyre and Sidon … came unto him.”

out of the same coasts] Literally, those coasts. Jesus did not himself pass beyond the borders of Galilee, but this instance of mercy extended to a Gentile points to the wide diffusion of the Gospel beyond the Jewish race.

Have mercy on me] Identifying herself with her daughter. Cp. the prayer of the father of the lunatic child: “Have compassion on us and help us,” Mark 9:22.

Song of Solomon of David] A title that proves the expectation that the Messiah should spring from the house of David. It is the particular Messianic prophecy which would be most likely to reach foreign countries.

Matthew 15:22. [693]Ἐξελθοῦσα, κ.τ.λ., having come forth, etc.) For Jesus did not enter the borders of the Canaanites.—ἐκραύγασεν, cried out) from a distance, from behind; cf. Matthew 15:23; Matthew 15:25.[694]—με, me) The affectionate mother had made her daughter’s misery her own; see Matthew 15:25; Matthew 15:28.—Υἱὲ Δαυὶδ, Song of Solomon of David) Therefore the woman had heard of the Promise either long ago or lately.

[693] Χανανάια) of the posterity of Canaan.—V. g.

[694] That is, Matthew 15:23, “She crieth after us,” shows she was in the rear, behind Him; Matthew 15:25, “Then came she,” etc., shows she had previously been at a distance.—ED.

Verse 22. - Behold. The word marks the sudden and unexpected character of the incident. A woman of Canaan. She belonged to the accursed race of Canaan, the ancient inhabitants of the land, doomed, indeed, to destruction, but never thoroughly extirpated. St. Mark calls her "a Greek," i.e. a Gentile, and "a Syro-Phoenician," which explains her proper nationality. Out of the same coasts. Some join these words with "a woman;" but came out would still imply that she left her own territory to meet Christ. Have mercy on me. She speaks as though she herself were the one that needed healing, identifying herself with her diseased daughter, as though the horrible incubus lay upon her own spirit and could not be relieved without the cure of the suffering girl. O Lord, thou Son of David. Living among a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles, she had heard this title applied to Jesus; she knew something of the hopes of the Hebrew nation, that they were expecting a Messiah, son of the great King David, who should preach to the poor and heal the sick, as she heard that Jesus had done. We know that the reputation of Jesus had spread into these parts, and that persons from this country had come to him to be healed (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17). There is no reason to suppose that the woman was a proselyte; but evidently she was of a humble and religious spirit, open to conviction, and of an enlightened understanding, which needed only grace and instruction to ripen into faith. At present she saw in Christ only a merciful Wonder-worker - an error which he often combated, and which now by his conduct he corrected. My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. She must have learned from her Hebrew neighbours to attribute her child's malady to demoniacal influence, as such an idea would not have naturally occurred to a heathen Greek. The power of the devil was shown more openly in heathen localities. We do not read of many bad cases of possession in strictly Jewish districts. It is in Gentile or semi-Gentile regions that the worst instances occur; and while the pagan inhabitants attributed the mysterious maladies to natural causes, the truer insight of believers assigned them, and often most justly, to spiritual agencies. In the present case, the possession must have been unconnected with any ethical relations. It was not that the child, by any act of her own, had put herself into the demon's power. We must regard it, like the sufferings of innocent infants, as a providential arrangement which God for wise purposes allows. Matthew 15:22Out of the same coasts (ἀπὸ τῶν δρίων ἐκείνων)

Lit., as Rev., from those borders; i.e., she crossed from Phoenicia into Galilee.

Cried (ἐκραύγασεν)

With a loud, importunate cry: from behind. Compare after, Matthew 15:23.


Making her daughter's misery her own.

Grievously vexed with a devil (κακῶς δαιμονίζεται)

Lit., is badly demonized. Sir J. Cheke, very evil devilled.

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