Matthew 15:23
But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and sought him, saying, Send her away; for she cries after us.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) He answered her not a word.—Two alternative views present themselves as to our Lord’s action in this matter. That which has found favour with nearly all ancient and most modern interpreters assumes that from the first He had purposed to comply with her request, and spoke as He did only to test and manifest her faith. Men have been unwilling to recognise the possibility of a change of purpose in the human nature of our Lord which they, unconsciously heretical, confused with the divine, and have preferred to fall back on the supposition of a simulated harshness. The truer and more reverential course, I venture to think, is to accept the impression which, apart from any à priori theory, the facts seem naturally to make, and to see, in what passed, the prevailing power of prayer working on the sympathy of Christ, and leading Him to pass beyond the ordinary limits of His appointed work. On this assumption, it is our work to trace, with all reverence, the successive stages of the process. And first, even the silence is significant, and implies a conflict. It would have been easy to dismiss her with a word. But the tenderness which He felt towards this sufferer, as towards others, forbade that course, and yet the sense of the normal limitation of His work forbade the other. Silence was the natural outcome of the equilibrium of these conflicting motives.

Send her away; for she crieth after us.—The disciples were clearly unable to enter into either of the two feelings which were thus contending for the mastery. Their words, as interpreted by our Lord’s answer, were, in some sense, a plea in favour of the woman. They wished Him to grant what she asked for, and so to dismiss her. And yet we feel that their words were far harsher than their Master’s silence. They wanted only to be rid of her presence, which had followed them from the streets into the house, to be freed from the loud eager cries which vexed them.

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.But he answered her not a word - This was done to test her faith, and that there might be exhibited to the apostles an example of the effect of persevering supplication.

The result shows that it was not unwillingness to aid her, or neglect of her. It was proper that the strength of her faith should be fully tried.

23. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us—(Also see on [1310]Mr 7:26.)Ver. 22,23. Mark saith, A certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it unto the dogs, Matthew 7:25-27. Though the woman appears to have been a pagan, yet living so near Galilee, she had doubtless heard of Christ, both what he had done in casting out devils, and also that he was looked upon as the Son of David, and usually called by that name by those who went to him for any cures; she therefore gives him that title. Others think her to have been more specially enlightened, and to have called him the Son of David, not as a usual compellation given him, but as believing him to have been the true Messias promised to the Jews: nor is that impossible, for though the gospel at this time had not shined out upon any considerable number of the heathen, yet God in all times had his number amongst them; and this woman living so near to the Jews, and so near to Galilee, where our Saviour hitherto had most conversed and preached, it is not improbable that she might have received the grace as well as the sound of the gospel, so God might have kindled in her heart a true faith in the Messias. Our Saviour’s commendation of her faith in the following discourse maketh this very probable. Matthew saith that

he answered her not a word. Mark saith that he said to her, Let the children first be filled, & c. To the observing reader this will appear no contradiction. For by Mark it should appear, that she first came to our Saviour into the house, into which he went that he might be private, and there fell at his feet. Here Christ answered her not a word, took no notice of her at all. But it appeareth by Matthew that Christ soon left the home, and she followed after him upon the way. The disciples said, Send her away; for she crieth after us. Then it was that our Saviour said to her,

Let the children first be filled; his disciples first interposing, saying,

Send her away; for she crieth after us. How many of the papists think that this text patronizes their invocation of saints departed I cannot tell, for these disciples were alive, and we do not read that she spake to any of them to intercede for her. It is certain they did move Christ on her behalf. But he answered her not a word,.... Not that he did not hear her, or that he despised either her person or petition, or that he was not moved with it; but to continue her importunity, and try her faith, and make it manifest: for like reasons the Lord does not always, and immediately, answer the requests of his people. This giving her no answer, either that he would, or would not help her, carried in it a tacit repulse of her, and a denial of assistance to her; and it seems as if she did for a while desist from her application to him, and betook herself to his disciples to plead with him for her:

and his disciples came; to the house where he was; who, it seems by this, had been elsewhere;

and besought him, saying, send her away; not in any shape, with any sort of answer, without curing her daughter, or without a promise of a cure; no, they desired she might be dismissed, with a grant of her request, to her entire satisfaction, as appears from Christ's answer: the reason they give is,

for she crieth after us; not only because she was troublesome to them, was importunate with them, and would take no denial from them: she followed them wherever they went; there was no getting rid of her: but also, because her case was so moving, was delivered in such an affecting manner, and her cries were piercing, that they could not bear them; and therefore entreat him, that he would relieve, and dismiss her.

{5} But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

(5) In that Christ sometimes shuts his ears, as it were, to the prayers of his saints, he does it for his glory, and our profit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 15:23. At first a silent indication, and then an express intimation of His disinclination to favour her.

ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν] send her away, that is, with her request granted. Bengel says well: “Sic solebat Jesus dimittere.”

Thus they begged Jesus; very frequently in the New Testament (in Matthew, only on this occasion; in Mark, only in Matthew 7:26; in Luke and John, very often; in Paul, only in Php 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1), and contrary to classical usage, though according to the LXX. (= שָׁאַל, see Schleusner, Thes. II. p. 529). ἐρωτάω is used in the sense of to beg, to request. It is not so with regard to ἐπερωτάω. See note on Matthew 16:1.

ὅτι κράζει, κ.τ.λ.] so importunate is she.Matthew 15:23. ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπ.: a new style of behaviour on the part of Jesus. The rôle of indifference would cost Him an effort.—ἠρώτων (ουν W. and H[93] as if contracted from ἐρωτέω), besought; in classics the verb means to inquire. In N. T. the two senses are combined after analogy of שָׁאַל. The disciples were probably surprised at their Master’s unusual behaviour; a reason for it would not occur to them. They change places with the Master here, the larger-hearted appearing by comparison the narrow-hearted.—ἀπόλυσον, get rid of her by granting her request.—ὅτι κράζει: they were moved not so much by pity as by dread of a sensation. There was far more sympathy (though hidden) in Christ’s heart than in theirs. Deep natures are often misjudged, and shallow men praised at their expense.

[93] Westcott and Hort.23. answered her not a word] Jesus, by this refusal, tries the woman’s faith, that he may purify and deepen it. Her request must be won by earnest prayer, “lest the light winning should make light the prize.”

Observe that Christ first refuses by silence, then by express words.

Send her away] By granting what she asks, by yielding, like the unjust judge, to her importunity.Matthew 15:23. Δὲ, but) It was fitting that this declaration, and as it were protestation of the unworthiness of the heathen, should precede the declaration of individual worthiness for which it prepared the way: nor did our Lord grant help so much to the prayers of the Canaanitess alone, as to those of the Canaanitess and the disciples together.—οὐκ ἀπεκρὶθηλόγον, answered not—a word) Thus the LXX. in Isaiah 36:21; 1 Chronicles 21:12.—ἀπόλυσον, dismiss) An instance of metonymy of the consequent for the antecedent: i.e. Help as you are wont, cf. Matthew 15:24; for our Lord was not wont to dismiss those who called upon Him for aid without according it.—κράζει, cries out) We may suppose that the disciples feared the judgment of men, and made their petition to our Lord, both for their own sake, lest her crying out should produce annoyance, and for the sake of the woman herself.Verse 23. - Answered her not a word. The woman made no specific request; she had not brought the sufferer with her, and entreated Christ to exorcise the evil influence; she did not urge him to go to her house, and by his gracious presence work a cure. Simply she tells her affliction, and lets the woeful tale plead for itself. But there was no response. The Merciful is obdurate; the Physician withholds his aid; in the face of misery, to the voice of entreaty, the Lord is silent. It is the discipline of love; he acts as though he hears not, that he may bring forth perseverance and faith. Send her away. There is some doubt concerning the feeling of the apostles in thus addressing Christ. Did they wish him to grant her virtual petition or not? On the one hand, it is urged that they were thoroughly annoyed at her importunity. They had sought for quiet' and privacy, and now this woman was bringing a crowd around them, and occasioning the very notoriety which they wished to avoid. Their Jewish prejudices, too, were aroused by this appeal from a Canaanite; they could not endure the idea that favour should be extended to this Gentile of an abhorred race; hence they desire Christ to dismiss her at once, give her a decided rejection. On the other hand, the answer of Christ to their request leads to another explanation, as if he understood them to be asking him to grant her prayer. And this is undoubtedly what they did want, though they did not presume to prescribe the manner or to beg for a miracle. They range themselves on the woman's side, not from any genuine compassion, but from mere selfishness. The ground of their appeal is, She crieth after us. The appeal had been first made in the open street, and the Canaanite had followed them, as they moved, continuing her piteous cry, and thus attracting attention to them and defeating their hope of retirement and rest. So they, for their own peace and comfort, ask Christ to grant the prayer of this obstinate suppliant: "Give her what she wants, and have done with her." Send her away

With her request granted; for, as Bengel exquisitely remarks, "Thus Christ was accustomed to send away."

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