Exorcism of the Syrophoenician woman's daughter

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The Woman of Canaan by Michael Angelo Immenraet, 17th century

The Exorcism of the Syrophoenician woman's daughter is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels and is recounted in the Gospel of Mark in Chapter 7 (Mark 7:24-30) and in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 15 (Matthew 15:21-28). In Matthew, the story is recounted as the healing of a Canaanite woman's daughter.[1] According to both accounts, Jesus exorcised the woman's daughter whilst travelling in the region of Tyre and Sidon, on account of the faith shown by the woman.

The Passage

The relevant passage from Matthew is as follows:

A Canaanite woman came to Jesus, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly."

Jesus exorcising the Canaanite Woman's daughter from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 15th century.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel".

The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs".

"Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."

Then Jesus said to her:

"Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted."

And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Many English translations of the gospels state that Jesus was in the region of Tyre and Sidon having withdrawn from Galilee where he had entered in discussion with the Pharisees over their interpretation of the Jewish law.[2] The Geneva Bible and the King James Version suggest that the visit was to the coast (i.e. the Mediterranean Sea), but the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges argues that Jesus went to "the neighbourhood, [or] district, not the sea-shore, as might be thought".[3]

This episode is, according to Graham H. Twelftree, an example of how Jesus emphasizes the value of faith, as also shown in the Healing the Centurion's servant episode.[1]

Syrophoenician woman

Etching by Pietro del Po, The Canaanite (or Syrophoenician) woman asks Christ to cure, ca. 1650.

The woman described in the miracle, the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:26) is also called a "Canaanite" (Matthew 15:22) and is an unidentified New Testament woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon. "The woman is ... described as Syrophoenician by race. It is unclear whether Mark seeks to distinguish between a Phoenician from Syria and one from northern Africa or between someone living in the coastal area of Syria and someone living in the central part."[4] Her other notable characteristic is her non-Jewish status: the Gospel of Mark adds that she is a Greek (Greek: Ελληνις).

The third century pseudo-Clementine homily refers to her name as Justa and her daughter's name as Berenice.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ a b Jesus the miracle worker: a historical & theological study by Graham H. Twelftree 1999 ISBN 0-8308-1596-1 pages 133-134
  2. ^ Translations available at Biblegateway.com
  3. ^ Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Matthew 15, accessed 22 January 2017
  4. ^ Stein, Robert H. (2008). Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. p. 351. ISBN 9780801026829.
  5. ^ Pseudo-Clementine. Homilies. 2.19, 3.73.
  6. ^ This passage is also discussed in Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 2.3, 3.1.

Further reading

  • Burkill, T. A. "The Historical Development of the Story of the Syrophoenician Woman (Mark vii: 24-31).", Novum Testamentum 9 (1967): 161-177.
  • Downing, F. Gerald. "The Woman from Syrophoenicia, and her Doggedness: Mark 7:24-31 (Matthew 15:21-28)." Women in the Biblical Tradition. Ed. George J. Brooke. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992. 129-149.
  • Schäfler, Markus, "The Syrophoenician Woman (Mk 7:24-31)"
  • Alt, C., The Dynamic of Humility and Wisdom: The Syrophoenician Woman and Jesus in Mark 7:24-31a, Lumen et Vita, Vol. 2, 2012
  • Alonso, P. 2011. The woman who changed Jesus. Crossing Boundaries in Mk 7,24-30. Biblical tools and studies, 11. Peeters Publishers.

External links

Media related to Jesus and the woman of Canaan at Wikimedia Commons

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