Why Did Jesus Call The Canaanite Woman A Dog?


Matthew 15:22-28

22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly tormented by a demon.”
23 Yet He did not say a word to her. So His disciples approached Him and urged Him, “Send her away because she cries out after us.”
24 He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 But she came, knelt before Him, and said, “Lord, help me!”
26 He answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to their dogs.”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table!”
28 Then Jesus replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.” And from that moment her daughter was cured.

Why would Jesus call this woman a dog? The word dog that Jesus used wasn’t of a nasty dog which scavenges garbage in His time. The Greek word for dog in verse 26 is kunarion which means a little dog, a house dog or a puppy. Strong’s#2952

Jesus wasn’t insulting her but was trying to do two things.

  1. Before you feed your pet, you make sure that your children have eaten first. God entrusted the Jewish people with the Word of God (the bread), to be a light unto the world. Jesus came first to those who had a personal relationship with God then to the rest of the world. By Jesus going to His own first and feeding them the bread of life, in turn, He commissioned the twelve to go into all the nations and make disciples by feeding them the Word of God.
  2. She knew (as we saw in her persistence) that God promises in His Word that those who genuinely seek Him will be found by Him as seen in Jeremiah 29:13 which says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jesus was trying to show those around Him that her faith was great but He had to deny her request at the moment so that the genuineness of her faith may result in glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

The reason she got helped was because she first went to Jesus. Whatever you are going through, cry out to the Lord even though it might seem to you like He doesn’t hear you, don’t give up. He doesn’t answer you immediately so that your faith may grow for your benefit and for His glory and yes, He always hears your prayers. Everything Jesus does is good, if we keep this in mind we will always trust Him and not lose heart.

16 Replies to “Why Did Jesus Call The Canaanite Woman A Dog?”

  1. But Jesus didn’t personally call her a dog. Not in the way that we would call a woman a five letter word … he was just using it as a metaphor. And if I’m not mistaken, there’s a parable where Lazarus waited at the table hoping to eat from the crumbs of it. In that society, that’s how poor people got some degree of charity. It’s more of a picture of trickle-down economics: superiors give their inferiors something, and those inferiors are somebody’s superior who give their own inferiors something.

    1. Thanks for your comment but I would have to disagree with your conclusion. Jesus referred to her has a dog, not as the four letter word that you suggested but as the Jews were His priority by stating the obvious “26 He answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to their dogs.”

      The context clearly suggests that the Jewish people were the children and the pagans were the dogs or as the Greek state’s puppy.

      I’m not saying that Jesus meant it in a negative way but I’m not going to go at this time into great details since I already explained what Jesus meant in the post.

      1. Do you have any kids? Have you ever fed your kids only to watch them spend more time feeding the dog than eating the food themselves? See? Trickle down – I don’t think that the ancient Israelites thought of pagans highly enough to consider them dogs.

        1. What you just said doesn’t make any sense. It has nothing to do with the context. I explained what Jesus meant in my post, what is it that you don’t understand or disagree?

          1. Her point is that even though Jesus was supposed to come for the Children of Israel, He just can’t ignore Gentiles; ultimately, through the Israelites, outsiders will be blessed. Don’t get caught up on the children / dog language, it’s the only metaphor she had that could convey her point; but it’s just that, a metaphor, not a literal statement that gentiles are dogs.

          2. Did you actually read what I wrote? Or do you make the habit of misquoting Christians? Even a young in the faith Christian knows its a metaphor which He is reflecting that the Jews were to receive the Word first.

          3. Jamie, I’m just sticking to the text, that’s what it says. Jesus was just making a point the He first came to the Jews than He will go to the gentiles. That’s all to be simple about it. Thanks for your comments and visiting my site.

  2. Yes, the ‘children’ were Jesus’ own people, the Jews, not, as you imply in your original article, anybody who was ‘in relationship with God’. It is very specific. Jesus was not at all interested in involving non-Jews – gentiles, or ‘dogs’ as he calls them here – in his mission. He says so clearly in Matthew 15.24 which you actually quote: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” You spot the word ‘only’ there? Not ‘first’ as you seem to think – ‘only’.

    Jesus uses the dog insult first, not the woman as you incorrectly state above, and metaphor or not, it is both insulting and unkind. I mean, really, if you were called ‘a dog not worthy to eat the scraps under the table’, would you be happy? Even if it was followed by, ‘S’okay, I only meant it metaphorically,’ which of course Jesus didn’t actually add. Yet, acording to you, he didn’t mean the insult in a ‘negative way’ – perhaps you could tell us how it can be interpreted any other way.

    Jesus was not the nice guy you Christians have morphed him into in your own heads. I suggest YOU read what the text says, rather than assuming it says what you want it to say.

    1. That’s incorrect on so many levels that your comment sounds like nonsense. It is clearly that you are an anti-Christ who rambles in your blog like a madman in attacking Jesus as the name of your blog reflects. Why is that? Satan is using you as a puppet to attack the Living God and you are letting him. Dog in the Greek means puppy just read what I wrote but how can you understand when you are devoid of the Holy Spirit. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before it’s too late. Once a person dies it will be too late.

  3. This little bit of scripture is easy to trip over and needs a little explaining. A gentile woman comes to Jesus(Yeshua) and begs Him to heal her daughter of a demon. Jesus tells her that “He came only for the lost of Israel and that it would not be right to give the children’s bread to the dogs. Yikes, this sounds bad, right? No. Jesus is telling this woman that the religion of her fathers is worthless, in other words, unclean. Dogs will eat anything that they get in their mouth and Jesus is likening gentiles to dogs that eat anything that is given to them (The Jews had the scriptures and studied them. They certainly were not perfect, but they were in a better position to understand who Messiah was.). We see this today. “All religions lead to god”, the world says wrongly. Like dogs, they will gobble up any unclean religion that they are given. The worst dog is a wolf. A wolf is the one who teaches the unclean religions, devouring the flock. The Canaanite woman responds by telling Jesus to give her crumbs that fall from the children’s table. It is difficult for a new believer to swallow the whole teaching of scripture at first, so we give them pieces. The apostle Paul used a different way to explain this, in Hebrews. He said that they should have been eating meat, like an adult, but they were needing milk, like a baby. A baby will put anything in their mouth, because they aren’t trained to know food from other things. This is like a new believer. You have to give milk before meat. Jesus is the bread of life and no one goes to the Father, but through Him. Jesus wasn’t a racist, in-fact He was over joyed to see her new found faith. Jesus healed her daughter and she went on to a new life. The angels celebrate every new believer, as we should. We are being bombarded with people who cause confusion in the word of God. My hope is to help sharpen my brothers and sisters, as they sharpen me. God bless.

  4. (2 Peter 2 also refers to those who leave the truth and go back to their old ways and religion, as a dog returning to its vomit.)

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