Matthew 15:26
But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
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(26) To cast it to dogs.—The word used was diminutive in its form, and as such pointed not to the wild, unclean beasts that haunt the streets of an Eastern city (Psalm 59:6), but to the tamer animals that were bred in the house, and kept as pets. The history of Tobias and his dog, in the Apocrypha, furnishes the one example in Biblical literature of this friendly relation between the dog and his master (Tobit 5:16).

The answer has, even taking this into account, a somewhat harsh sound, but it did not go beyond the language with which the woman must have been familiar, and it was probably but a common proverb, like our “Charity begins at home,” indicating the line of demarcation which gave a priority to the claims of the family of Israel to those of strangers. We may well believe that there was no intentional scorn in it, though it emphasized an actual distinction.

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 and said, It is not meet ... - That is, it is not appropriate or proper.

Children's bread - The Jews considered themselves as the special children of God.

To all other nations they were accustomed to apply terms of contempt, of which dogs was the most common. The Muslims still apply the term "dogs" to Christians, and Christians and Jews to each other. The term is designed as an expression of the highest contempt. The Saviour means to say that he was sent to the Jews. The woman was a Gentile. He meant merely using a term in common use, and designed to test her faith in the strongest manner - that it did not comport with the design of his personal ministry to apply benefits intended for the Jews to others. Evidently he cannot be understood as intending to justify or sanction the use of such terms, or calling names. He meant to try her faith. As if he had said, "You are a Gentile; I am a Jew. The Jews call themselves children of God. You they vilify and abuse, calling you a dog. Are you willing to receive of a Jew, then, a favor? Are you willing to submit to these appellations to receive a favor of one of that nation, and to acknowledge your dependence on a people that so despise you?" It was, therefore, a trial of her faith, and was not a lending of his sanction to the propriety of the abusive term. He regarded her with a different feeling.

25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me—(Also see on [1312]Mr 7:26.) Mark saith, Mark 7:27, Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled; for it is not meet, &c. By the children here he means the Jews, by the dogs he means the heathen. The Jews are called the children of the kingdom. Israel is called God’s son, his firstborn, Exodus 4:22. The apostle, Romans 9:4, saith, to them belonged the the adoption. By bread here our Saviour means the publication of the gospel, and the miracles by which the truth of the doctrine of it was confirmed; by dogs he means the heathen, whom the Jews did count as dogs, no members of the household of God: it was a term of contempt, 2 Samuel 3:8 2 Samuel 16:9 2 Kings 8:13. When our Saviour saith,

It is not meet he means it is not just, nor equal.

Objection: How came it then that the gospel was ever carried to the Gentiles?

Mark expounds our Saviour’s meaning, or rather gives us an account of our Saviour’s words, more perfectly: Let the children first be filled; for it is not meet, &c. The Jews are God’s children, a people whom he chose out of all the nations of the earth, to whom he gave many privileges; it is his will the gospel should be first preached to them, and then to the Gentiles. Gentiles are as dogs, of whom God hath not taken such a care; but they shall have their time. Only it is not consonant to my Father’s will that the gospel, and the miracles by which it is confirmed, should be exhibited unto you Gentiles, till it hath been fully preached to the Jews, and they be first filled with the sound, and with the confirmations of it.

But he answered, and said,.... To the woman, as the Persic version reads it, and the sense requires:

it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs; which he said, to try her faith the more, and make it the more illustrious; and that not so much from his own sense of things, as in the language of the Jewish people, and which she might not be a stranger to. By "the children", are meant the Jews, to whom the adoption belonged; who, as a nation and people, were the children of God in a large sense; being distinguished by many blessings and favours, which others had not, and being under the more peculiar care and notice of God; not that all of them were the children of God by special grace: by "the bread"; which belonged to them, is meant the external ministry of the word, and the miracles of Christ wrought among them: and particularly such outward favours which related to the good of the bodies of men, by healing their diseases, and dispossessing them of devils: and by "the dogs" are designed the Gentiles, so called by the Jews in a way of contempt, because of their ignorance, idolatry, and impurity. Christ here speaks not his own mind, as if he reproached the Gentiles, and held them in scorn and contempt, but uses the common dialect of the people; and which, this woman, living upon the borders of the Israelitish nation, was acquainted with; so that it was not so shocking and surprising, or quite so discouraging, as it would otherwise have been. The Jewish doctors say (k), that the idolatrous Gentiles are not called men, that they are comparable to the beasts or the field (l), to oxen, rams, goats (m), and asses (n): the foetus in the bowels of a Canaanitish servant, they say (o),

"ymd hmhb yemb dlwk, "is like the foetus in the bowels of a beast".''

Take the following passage, as an illustration of this, and as a further proof of the Jews calling the Gentiles dogs (p).

"A king provides a dinner for the children of his house; whilst they do his will they eat their meat with the king, and he gives to the dogs the part of bones to gnaw; but when the children of the house do not do the king's pleasure, he gives the dogs the dinner, and the bones to them: even so: while the Israelites do the will of their Lord, they eat at the king's table, and the feast is provided for them, and they of their own will give the bones to the Gentiles; but when they do not do the will of their Lord, lo! the feast is "for the dogs", and the bones are their's.''

And a little after,

""thou preparest a table before me"; this is the feast of the king; "in the presence of mine enemies"; , "these are the dogs" that sit before the table, looking for their part of the bones.''

In which may be clearly discerned the distinction between children and dogs, and the application of the one to the Jews, and the other to the Gentiles, and the different food that belongs to each: and hence it is easy to see from whom Christ borrowed this expression, and with what view he made use of it.

(k) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 114. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 4. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 1. 4. (l) Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. & 34. 1. 2. (m) Jarchi in Genesis 15. 10. (n) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 68. 1.((o) lb. fol. 69. 1.((p) Zohar in Exod. fol. 63. 1, 2. Vid. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 147. 4.

But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Matthew 15:26. It is not allowable (see critical notes) to take (sumere, circumstantial way of putting it, not: to take away) the bread belonging to the children and cast it to the dogs,—a general proposition for the purpose of expressing the thought: I must not allow the Gentiles to participate in my blessings, belonging as they do only to the people of Israel (the children of God, Romans 9:4). Jesus speaks “ex communi gentis loquela potius quam ex sensu suo” (Lightfoot); for it was the practice among the Jews to designate heathens (and subsequently, Christians also) as dogs; see Lightfoot and Wetstein, likewise Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. I. p. 713 ff. For the diminutive, see note on Matthew 15:27. In this passage it is intended to mitigate the harshness of the expression.

Matthew 15:26. οὐκ ἔστιν καλὸν, etc.: seemingly a hard word, but not so hard as it seems. First, it is not a simple monosyllabic negative, leaving no room for parley, but an argument inviting further discussion. Next, it is playful, humorous, bantering in tone, a parable to be taken cum grano. Third, its harshest word, κυναρίοις, contains a loophole. κυνάρια does not compare Gentiles to the dogs without, in the street, but to the household dogs belonging to the family, which got their portion though not the children’s.

26. to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs] The “children” are the Jews; the “dogs” are the Gentiles. This was the name applied by the Jews to all outside the chosen race, the dog being in the East a symbol of impurity. St Paul, regarding the Christian Church as the true Israel, terms the Judaizing teachers “dogs,” Php 3:2. Christ’s words, as reported by St Mark (ch. Mark 7:27), contain a gleam of hope, “Let the children first be filled.”

Matthew 15:26. Τῶν τέκνων, the children’s) Our Lord spoke severely to the Jews themselves, but honourably of them [to those without]; see John 4:22. Thus we, concerning the Evangelic Church. κυναρίοις, to little dogs[697]) who are not worthy to receive it. But yet ΚΥΝΆΡΙΟΝ, the word employed by our Lord, is a diminutive, and Jesus thereby gives a handle to the woman to take hold of Him. Midrasch Tillim.[698] says, “The nations of the world are like dogs.”

[697] Diminutives are used as terms of endearment. Therefore κυναρίοις probably here means the household dogs—pet dogs.—ED.

[698] i.e. “Allegorical Commentary on the Psalms,” a Rabbinical work of high repute among the Jews.—(I. B.)

Even the third effort was seeming likely to be abortive. Yet she did not give over.—V. g.

Verse 26. - But he answered and said. At length Jesus spoke directly to her; but his words were rough in sound, still enforcing the previous repulse. It is not meet; οὐκ ἔστι καλόν: non est bonum (Vulgate). Another reading of less authority is oboe ἔξεστιν, "it is not lawful." The question is rather of fairness and expediency than of lawfulness. To take the children's bread. "The children" are the chosen people, "the children of the kingdom" (Matthew 8:12), who held this high position by election, however individuals might forfeit it by an unworthy use of privileges. "Bread" is meant to signify the graces and favours bestowed by God in Christ. To cast it. An humiliating term; not to give it, as you would to your children, but to throw it away as valueless, fit only for animals. Dogs (κυναρίοις). A contemptuous diminutive, rendered by Wickliffe, "whelpies," or, as we might say, "curs." This was the term applied by the Jews to the Gentiles, even as Turks nowadays talk of "dogs of Christians," and as in later times, by a curious inversion, the Jews themselves were generally saluted with the opprobrious name of"dogs." Some have seen a term of endearment in the diminutive "little dogs," as though Christ desired to soften the harshness of the expression by referring, not to the prowling, unowned animals that act as scavengers in Oriental towns, but to the petted inmates of the master's house. But Scripture gives no warrant for thinking that the Hebrews ever kept dogs as friends and companions, in our modern fashion; and our Lord adopts the language of his countrymen, to put the woman in her right position, as one with whom Jews could have no fellowship. To take the blessings from the Church of Israel in order to give them to aliens was to throw them away on unworthy recipients. Matthew 15:26Children's (τῶν τέκνων)

Bengel observes that while Christ spoke severely to the Jews, he spoke honorably of them to those without. Compare John 4:22.

Dogs (κυναρίοις)

Diminutive: little dogs. In Matthew 15:27, Wyc. renders the little whelps, and Tynd., in both verses, whelPsalms The picture is of a family meal, with the pet house-dogs running round the table.

Their masters

The children are the masters of the little dogs. Compare Mark 7:28, "the children's crumbs."

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