Matthew 15:27
And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs.—The insertion of the conjunction “for” in the Greek gives it a force which it is hard to reproduce in English, “Yet grant what I ask, for the dogs under the table . . .” The woman catches at the form which had softened the usual word of scorn, and presses the privilege which it implied. She did not ask that the “children” might be deprived of any fragment of their portion; but taking her place, contentedly, among the “dogs,” she could still claim Him as her Master, and ask for the “crumbs” of His mercy. The Talmud contains a story so singularly parallel to this that it is worth reproducing. “There was a famine in the land, and stores of corn were placed under the care of Rabbi Jehudah the Holy, to be distributed to those only who were skilled in the knowledge of the Law. And, behold, a man came, Jonathan, the son of Amram, and clamorously asked for his portion. The Rabbi asked him whether he knew the condition, and had fulfilled it, and then the supplicant changed his tone, and said, ‘Nay, but feed me as a dog is fed, who eats of the crumbs of the feast,’ and the Rabbi hearkened to his words, and gave him of the corn.”

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.And she said, Truth, Lord ... - What you say is true.

Let it be that the best food should be given to the children - let the Jews have the chief benefit of thy ministry; but the dogs beneath the table eat the crumbs. So let me be regarded as a dog, a pagan, as unworthy of everything. Yet grant one exertion of that almighty power displayed so signally among the Jews, and heal the despised daughter of a despised heathen mother."

25. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me—(Also see on [1312]Mr 7:26.) Mark reports it to the same sense, Mark 7:28. She goeth on after three repulses, the last of which was not without a reproach, for our Lord had implicitly called her a dog. These words are as much as if she had said, Lord, I confess the Jews are children; I am a dog, a poor heathen, no proper member of the household of God; and it is truth that it seemeth unreasonable that I, being a dog, should be served before all the children are filled. Lord, I do not beg such a full manifestation of thy power and goodness for the Gentiles. I beg but a crumb of mercy for myself and poor child; and, Lord, though we do not use to give our loaves prepared for our children to the dogs that feed under our table, crumbs of our children’s bread, as Mark expresses it, yet we suffer our dogs to gather them up. Lord, I know thou hast a plenty of grace and blessing, the children may be filled, and yet I may have some crumbs. Three things are remarkable in her answer, besides her faith so eminently expressed.

1. Her humility; she owneth herself a dog.

2. Her modesty; she begs no more than a crumb.

3. Her fervency and importunity after three repulses.

By this we learn our duty in prayer, to go to God humbly, to implore him modestly, and to be instant in prayer, going on in our duty, though we have not presently such an answer as we desire. These things, conjoined with faith, make an acceptable prayer. And she saith, truth, Lord,.... She owns all that he had said to be true, that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: that she was indeed but a dog, a poor sinful creature, and unworthy of any favour; and that it was not right and fitting that all the children's bread should be taken from them and given to dogs:

yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. The Syriac and Persic versions add "and live": thus she wisely lays hold upon and improves in a very beautiful manner, in her own favour, what seemed to be so much against her. It is observed (q) of the Syrophoenicians in general, that they have all, in their common talk, something "pleasant and graceful", as there is indeed in this smart reply of her's, who was one of that people. She suggests that though the Gentiles were but dogs, and she one of them; yet their common Lord and Master had a propriety in them, and they in him; and were to be maintained and fed, and ought to live, though not in such fulness of favours and blessings, as the Jews, the children of God: nor did she desire their affluence, only that a crumb of mercy might be given her, that her poor daughter might be healed; which was but a small favour, in comparison of the numerous ones he heaped upon the children, the Jews: nor would this be any more detrimental to them, than it is to the children, for the dogs, under the table, to eat of the crumbs that fall.

(q) Eunapius in Vita Libanii.

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 15:27. Ναί, as in Matthew 11:9; Matthew 11:26, confirms the whole statement of Jesus in Matthew 15:26 (not merely the appellation of dogs, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Maldonatus); and καὶ γάρ means, as everywhere in the New Testament, and even to a far greater extent among classical writers (who use it but rarely in the sense of namque,

καί consequently is connective), for even; see especially, Kühner, II. 2, p. 855. It gives a reason for the ναί; but it is quite according to rule to regard τὰ κυνάρια as the expression to which καί is meant to give prominence. Consequently the passage would run thus: Yes, Lord, Thou art right in what Thou sayest, for even the dogs eat of the crumbs, and so on; or, to express it negatively (with οὐδὲ γάρ): for even the dogs are not sent away empty, and so on. That is to say, this καί, so far as can be seen from the context, cannot be intended to serve any other purpose than to suggest a comparison between the κυνάρια and the τέκνα, so that the passage may be paraphrased as follows: Thou art right, Lord; for not merely the children are filled with bread at the family-meal, but—so richly is the table spread—even the dogs receive their share, inasmuch as they eat of the fragments, and so on. It would therefore be but the more unseemly to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs, so as possibly to leave the former unfed. But in thus justifying her ναὶ, κύριε, the woman seeks to suggest the inference to our Lord that He might yet venture to give her that which is hinted at in those ψιχία with which the κυνάρια have to be contented. Of course by this she means a share of His abundant mercy, after the wants of Israel have been fully supplied. Following Grotius and Kuinoel, de Wette explains incorrectly: For it is even usual for the dogs to get nothing but the fragments. In that case we should have expected to find: καὶ γὰρ ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων ἐσθίει, κ.τ.λ. Fritzsche (comp. Bleek, Schegg) is likewise wrong when he explains thus: Yes, Lord, it is allowable to give the bread to the dogs, for, and so on. As against this view we have not merely ναί, which can only be taken as a confirming, a justifying of what Jesus had said, not simply the ignoring of καὶ γάρ, which it would involve, but also the “repugnandi audacia,” which is not to be excused in consideration of the κύριε, and the meaning itself, which would certainly not bear out the idea of a contradiction on the part of the woman. But if there is one thing more than another that must not be associated with the tender language of this woman, it is the appearance of anything like contradiction. Finally, all interpretations are wrong which would necessitate our having ἀλλά instead of καὶ γάρ (Chrysostom, Luther, Vatablus, Glöckler, Baumgarten-Crusius).

The reason why we find Jesus, Matthew 15:26, and consequently the woman also, Matthew 15:27, making use of the diminutive κυνάρια (a classical term, Plat. Euthyd. p. 298 D; Xen. Cyr. viii. 4. 20, although discarded by Phrynichus, p. 180), is because His idea is that of a family-meal, in connection with which it was not unnatural to think of the little house-dogs that ran about under the table (comp. τραπεζῆες κύνες, Hom. Il. xxiii. 173). The plural τῶν κυρίων may be ascribed to the fact that, in what she says, the woman is understood to be stating what is matter of general experience.Matthew 15:27. ναί, κύριε· καὶ γὰρ, etc.: eager assent, not dissent, with a gleam in the eye on perceiving the advantage given by the comparison = Yes, indeed, Lord, for even, etc. Kypke cites an instance from Xenophon of the combination ναί καὶ γὰρ in the same sense.—ψιχίων, dimin. from ψίξ, a bit, crumb, found only in N. T. (here and Mark 7:28, Luke 16:21 T. R.), another diminutive answering to κυνάρια = the little pet dogs, eat of the minute morsels. Curiously felicitous combination of ready wit, humility and faith: wit in seizing on the playful κυνάρια and improving on it by adding ψιχία, humility in being content with the smallest crumbs, faith in conceiving of the healing asked as only such a crumb for Jesus to give.27. yet the dogs eat of the crumbs] “Yet,” of the E. V., is misleading. Translate “for even;” the woman takes Jesus at his word, accepts the name of reproach, and claims the little share that falls even to the dogs. No need to cast the children’s bread to the dogs, for even the dogs have crumbs from the Master’s hands.

the crumbs] Probably as in E. V., not, as Trench suggests, the pieces of bread used by the guests to wipe their hands on and then thrown to the dogs.

their masters’ table] The “Masters” must be interpreted to mean God, not, as by some, the Jewish people.Matthew 15:27. Ναὶ, yea) The woman seizes upon the appellation κυνάρια, for she says immediately, καὶ γὰρ, which must be rendered, for even (etenim). The particle ναὶ partly assents, partly as it were places on our Lord’s tongue the assent to her prayers, i.e. prays. The word is thus used in Philemon 1:20, and Jdt 9:12.[699]—ἘΣΘῚΕΙ, eat) since the children often waste their bread.—ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων, of the crumbs) She does not say the morsels, nor the bread.—τῶν πιπτόντων, which fall) in opposition to λαβεῖν καὶ βαλεῖν, to take and cast, in the last verse. She asks for it as a favour, essential to herself, injurious to no one.—ἀπὸ, from). She does not ask to be admitted to the table, but implies that she was not far distant from it. Her nation was contiguous to Israel.—τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν, of their masters) This indicates the prerogative of the children, and vet a certain tie of connection (necessitudinem) with them on the part of the little dogs. The language of the Canaanitess corresponds with the curse addressed to Canaan, Genesis 9:26 : “A servant of servants shall he be,” etc.

[699] Such modes of pleading she could not have learned from books by anticipation. The Spirit of faith supplies the best forms of prayer.—V. g.Verse 27. - And she said, Truth, Lord; or better, but she said, Yea, Lord (Revised Version). Christ's answer might have seemed the climax of rejection, and to have at once closed the matter forever. But her love for her daughter, and her growing faith in Jesus, overcame all seeming hindrances. With a woman's ready wit, quickened by urgency and affection, she seizes the opportunity, and turns Christ's own words against himself. Thou sayest truth, she means; the Jews are the children; we are the dogs; and as dogs we claim our portion. This we can receive without defrauding the children of any of their food. Yet; καὶ, or καὶ γὰρ, for even; nam et (Vulgate). The Authorized Version injures the significance of the mother's reply, as if there were something adversative in the particles, which really introduce the confirmation of her assent. The dogs eat of the crumbs, etc. Dogs in the East have access to the rooms, and live on what they can pick up or on what is thrown to them. The fragments at meals were naturally numerous, the abundance being occasioned by the nature of the food, the use of fingers instead of spoons and forks, and the employment of pieces of bread as platters and napkins. We may paraphrase the Canaanite's reply thus: By calling us dogs, you virtually grant what I desire. You can do what I wish without infringing your rule, in the justice of which I humbly acquiesce. I claim nothing as a daughter of Abraham; I look only for uncovenanted mercies; I ask only for that portion which falls to the lot of the creatures which hold the lowest place in the household, and the loss of which will never be felt. Truly by humbling her Jesus educated her, taught her that her real plea was her unworthiness, that in acknowledgment of her degradation lay the force of her appeal. And in asking for this one act of mercy she is doing no wrong to the sons of the house.
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