Matthew 15:22, The Canaanite Woman

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;

//Today’s verse leads into the story of Jesus healing the daughter of a Canaanite. At first Jesus ignores her pleading for mercy, stating that his duty is to Israel. But she persists, humbling herself, and Jesus succumbs to mercy. He heals the woman’s little girl.

I’ve written about this story before. It’s fascinating and encouraging on a number of levels. But today, I want you to note one word in particular:

Canaanite.

Matthew calls this woman a Canaanite. It’s an odd description, because there were no Canaanites anymore by Jesus’ time. They no longer existed as a culture. Maybe this Old Testament verse is why:

And when the LORD thy God shall deliver [the Canaanites] before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: –Deuteronomy 7:2

Even the daughters of the Canaanites were destroyed. They were not fit as wives for Israelites. Israel was to show no mercy for them, even for their little girls.

Is this why Jesus at first refused to heal the little girl of this “Canaanite” woman? Was he letting their meeting build to a climax before making his point: that things were changing and even “Canaanites” were to be treated mercifully in God’s new world?

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

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