Usually, when I read about interpretations and/or sermons about the Syrophoenician Woman pleading with Jesus Christ to excorcise/healing of her demon-possessed daughter, it usually gives credit to the woman for her persistence in asking/request/crying out to Jesus Christ.

However, would it be correct to also take the following analysis of the scripture?

1) A Syrophoenician woman who Knows that she is viewed in society as being lower in terms social status than Jews( basically it's racism/discrimination) pleads with Jesus Christ who is a Jew

2) Jesus Christ is aware of the prevalent social conditions of his time period( i.e., the Racist attitude that Jews have toward Syrophoenicians, and how Jews mistreat Syrophoenicians )

3) Therefore, Jesus Christ tests to see if she can overcome her inferiority feelings due to her lower social status by hinting/suggesting that he has Not come for dogs

Would the aforementioned interpretation be accurate?

Update: Thanks to many of answer and comment postings to this question, I now understand that it would be better to rephrase by asking if it was test to see if her "faith in Jesus Christ" could overcome the challenges of the racist attitudes at that particular time period.

Matthew 15:21-28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Syrophoenician Woman
21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting [a]at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began [b]to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not [c]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; [d]but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed [e]at once.

Mark 7:24-30 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Syrophoenician Woman
24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre[a]. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; [b]yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a [c]Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not [d]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this [e]answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child [f]lying on the bed, the demon having left.

Update: Thanks to many of answer and comment postings to this question, I now understand that it would be better to rephrase by asking if it was test to see if her "faith in Jesus Christ" could overcome the challenges of the racist attitudes at that particular time period.

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    Your explanation does not fit the facts of the passage. The woman was blessed because of her faith. And her faith was evident because, though she accepted she was a 'dog' (as compared to a Jew) yet she still believed that Jesus could - and would - bless her with some crumbs. Her faith overcame the massive problem of God choosing a particular nation : and not any other nation.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 11 '20 at 13:26

First off, let's get the facts straight. Jesus was in Gentile territory, where Jews were the minority. Mark makes clear that Jesus went there for anonymity.

So, Jesus is a foreign town where he wants to maintain a low profile. He doesn't want to do any miracles, because that would draw attention. We don't know his exact motivation, but the account itself makes clear that Jesus was strongly set against doing anything that could draw attention.

A woman recognizes him and begs for help. Jesus is now faced with a choice. He can help her and draw attention, or he can ignore her. Initially, he tries to ignore her.

This leads to the reason Jesus did miracles of healing. The big picture reason was to plants seeds of faith in many Jews, whom God had prepared for that purpose. Jesus typically avoided Gentiles because they, in general, were not prepared to understand that God had sent Jesus to fulfill the OT.

So, Jesus initially ignored her because he didn't want to draw attention and he didn't think that she had enough understanding to come to faith.

However, Jesus was moved by her plight, and so he tested her with a very rude comment. The woman showed both wisdom and faith in her reply. Matthew says that Jesus was pleasantly surprised by her answer; she had passed his test. He then, very quietly, did as she asked.

To your proposal, Jesus was not interested in racial issues, as he was the minority in the situation. Women were poorly treated, but the fact that he spoke to her, which in those cultures was frowned upon, showed he wasn't concerned about, either.

To summarize what I said above, Jesus wanted to know if she would show faith (in some general sense.) She did.


Jesus is not testing the woman, but rather showcasing her persistence in order to praise her faith as an example to others. In Matthew's account He praises her, O woman, great is thy faith.

Theophylact (11th c. Byzantine Greek) summarizes here:

Now Jesus shows the reason why He put off healing her at the beginning. So that the faith and understanding of the woman might be made manifest. Christ did not immediately give His assent at the beginning and even drove her away. But now when her faith has been revealed she hears the words of praise, "Great is thy faith."*

He also takes the occasion to show that her faith, and not her supplication, were necessary for her daughter to be healed. In Matthew's account, Be it unto thee even as thou wilt; in Mark's, For this saying go thy way.

* Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew (tr. from Greek; Chrysostom Press, 1992), p.133


Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And not one of them will fall to the earth apart from your Father.

The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles out of faith, announced the gospel beforehand to Abraham: "In you shall all the nations be blessed."

It is written,"After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen; and I will rebuild its ruins and erect it again, so that the remainder of men may seek out the Lord, even all the Gentiles upon whom My name has been called."

Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations"?

What inferiority complex? She had no inferiority complex. She boldly asked Him, loudly, publicly, as it says. Using His Israeli title "Son of David" in Matthew's record. Christ reminds her of her "lower" racial status, she's not of the King's physical family, from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She receives His word and takes it. Admitting she's a dog compared to the children, in that case...and pointing out He provides even for her.


Would not one say it was Christ humanity responded first because he was it a time period in which racism had penetrated society at that time it had become systemic; it was engraved within the culture so his humanity answered first, but then at woman persistence the deity; the Christ responded to the action or reacted to her faith which was principally grounded on her love, hope and need for daughter to get heal ; and knowledge of the racism her daughter was going to face as a gentile and female; Because of the cruelness of injustice of the society that child was already under the bus. Unless God put her on the bus which he did through Christ Jesus, His Son.

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