Зображення сторінки

between the 23d and 24th verses of the text of Matthew, and it is explained by this that Jesus hastens into the house, in order there to be concealed. But He does not succeed; for already a Syrian woman had heard of Him; she had already gone after Him, beseeching Him on the way, and now pressed into His immediate presence, where she more urgently renewed her cry for help. As regards the woman herself, she is called by Matthew 'a woman of Canaan;' on the other hand, by Mark, “a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation. Both mean the same. In the Septuagint, the Canaanites are the names of the inhabitants of Palestine whom Joshua found there, and partly rooted out, partly drove up into the extreme north. Consequently in this expression is included the Greek,' a Gentile according to the religious view, as the “Syrophenician by nation,' a Phoenician woman from her country. According to Matthew, the woman had for a long time followed Jesus with her requests: 'O Lord, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.' Bengel says: “suam fecerat pia mater miseriam filiæ.' The motive of her request was κακώς δαιμονίζεται, she is very ill from demoniacal possession; but Jesus is silent, quite contrary to His usual custom. The disciples become impatient, and request Him to put an end to the matter, certainly, in the sense that He should grant her request.

If our Lord is silent, He has still patience with their cries, in the beautiful sense in which it is said of God in the parable (Luke xviii. 7): ' He bears with those crying after Him day and night.' It will not be burdensome to Him to listen always to their renewed requests; but He will least fulfil it in order to gain rest. However, He has grounds for His negative conduct; and He explains it to His disciples, Matt. XV. 24. This saying is directed to those only who addressed Him, not to the woman; on the way He has given the explanation, not in the house. (The scene is changed to the house by means of the Édouga in the 25th verse.)

In order to understand the 24th verse, we must emphasize the expression åreotálny. By this our Lord refers to the instructions which He has received from above; and we know that He was sent eis tà Ydia. He was indeed come for the whole world, as the Light of the world;' still, as far as regarded the planting of the kingdom of God on earth, He should work exclusively in Israel. It is quite conceivable that the Jews, in John vii. 35, should break out into the wondering question, Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles ?' The waonteúelv of all things to the Gentiles was the task of the apostles, although even they were not to leave out of sight the 'first to the Jews;' and they did not.

It is an untenable representation, and one contrary to truth, to say that our Lord only appeared as if disinclined, in order to prove or raise their faith. To accept of such a dissimulation, would be to mar the holiness of His picture. Once for all away with this worn-out and really impious view, which gains the appearance of edification at the expense of truth. Never ought Jesus to be judged according to our own, even though well-meant, practice. But certainly, two dark questions present themselves. First, our Lord seems not to act consistently with the proposition advanced by Him. The centurion in Matt. viii. was also a Gentile (by no means a proselyte, for he is spoken of in opposition to Israel), and yet Jesus fulfilled at once his request, without raising difficulties. But it must not be overlooked that this centurion lived in the midst of Judaisin, that he had shown his predilection for it, and in the sense of the apostle, was a Jew in spirit. A benefit shown to him was therefore no metáßaois eis äido yévos. Secondly, the conduct of Jesus against the Canaanitish woman does not appear quite reconcilable with the assertion, which our Lord made, Luke iv. 24, etc., after the sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth : There were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah, and to none of them was the prophet sent, save unto a woman that was a widow in Sarepta of Syria. How then ? Would he not see therein an intimation for him on his part to be ready to bestow a higher benefit than that merely of increasing the meal in the barrel and the oil in the cruse? But we again call attention to the åreotálny in the 26th verse. Of Elijah Jesus Himself says (Luke iv. 26) étréupon, that is, he had received a special divine command to do so. He, the Saviour, had not this task, but He was to move within Israel, in order to save the lost sheep of this fold; thus was the historical beginning of redemption to be. He knew that there were still other sheep which were not of this fold, and He would also åryayelv them, only not during His personal work on earth, but, according to our supposition, when all the scattered ones were collected together at the fulfilment of His death (John xi. 52). And thus His silence had a good motive, but He was not by this placed under an inflexible law; He had power and right to break through the restriction in a given case. Only there must be a good reason for it. And here there is


Let us seek it in the right place; let us not seek it in the renewed request of the woman in itself. That our Lord allowed Himself to be persuaded, that the repeated blows opened the door, and that the more fervent, uncontrollable weeping conquered His opposition ; against this there arise


more important considerations than the expressions of the promise: κρούετε και ανοιχθήσεται υμίν. It requires another answer. The supposition that Jesus has determined otherwise than had been His original intention is not astonishing; there is at least no cause for fearing the consequences which arise from it.

In some sense the ordinances of our Lord must be changeable, from the fact that His kingdom has a history. Only His ethical laws are eternally , un- , changeable, and can neither grow old nor become superannuated (that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Heb. viii. 13). No one can move Him to give something evil,—to offer a stone, a serpent. On the other hand, with regard to the ordinances of His kingdom, He can in given cases anticipate what was to become the rule in a later phase. The time was to come in which the heathen also should be drawn, out of the fulness of His grace, into grace. This time was not yet fulfilled, therefore · He turned away the beseeching Canaanitish woman. But when the woman showed herself in this sense as an értpwua, by which a Paul has thus distinguished himself, έρχεται ώρα could become in her a και νύν εστίν. . It will be asked, perhaps, by what means the claim for such grace before the time was justified. We renew the protest we have already made against the fancy, that the intensity with which she cried at the feet of Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on me,' conquered His opposition. Nothing that has grown out of the soil of nature, no maternal love, no maternal anxiety, even though it had arisen from the tenderest emotions, from the deepest and best sensations, could have done this; it required another and more effective factor. We see that Jesus answered her renewed "have mercy on me,' even though there lay in the cry the whole

yearning of the mother's heart, with renewed refusal. What changed His determination ? In order to find out an answer, we must consider more thoroughly the answer which contains the refusal. We keep to the account of Mark. Not that it differs from that of Matthew, but it contains a clause before that of the latter which bears in itself the guarantee of originality. According to this, Jesus thus commenced : "Let the children first be filled,' and after that He added, with the word “for,' what Mark has in common with Matthew (Mark vii. 27). We set a high value on this clause, that is, on one word of it, the word first. This it is which the apostle brings forward in the Epistle to the Romans, not only by means of the repeated 'first to the Jews,' but it lies also at the root of a complete exposition of the 15th chapter, that the Jews received salvation for righteousness' sake; the Gentiles, on the other hand, for mercy's sake. Our Lord says, therefore: I am come for the children of the kingdom, that is, for the Jews-these must first be satisfied; I may not take their bread and cast it to the dogs. And by this stress is laid on two points. In the cast it to the dogs ’ is considered the despising of the bread, a misuse of the noble gift designed for better receivers. In the 'take the children's bread,' on the other hand, is shown the claim which the children have on it; it is their bread (the children's bread, as in Matt. vi. 11 : Give us this day our daily bread'). It should be given to no one not authorized to receive it; and on both points was our Lord in complete earnest.

He does not wish simply to see if the woman will be humble enough to hear this speech, if she will be pleased with the comparison with dogs (a comparison which was, besides, a very general one, and in no way surpassed the very similar expression terávns kai

« НазадПродовжити »