But he answered, and said
To the woman, as the Persic version reads it, and the sense requires:
it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs;
which he said, to try her faith the more, and make it the more illustrious; and that not so much from his own sense of things, as in the language of the Jewish people, and which she might not be a stranger to. By "the children", are meant the Jews, to whom the adoption belonged; who, as a nation and people, were the children of God in a large sense; being distinguished by many blessings and favours, which others had not, and being under the more peculiar care and notice of God; not that all of them were the children of God by special grace: by "the bread"; which belonged to them, is meant the external ministry of the word, and the miracles of Christ wrought among them: and particularly such outward favours which related to the good of the bodies of men, by healing their diseases, and dispossessing them of devils: and by "the dogs" are designed the Gentiles, so called by the Jews in a way of contempt, because of their ignorance, idolatry, and impurity. Christ here speaks not his own mind, as if he reproached the Gentiles, and held them in scorn and contempt, but uses the common dialect of the people; and which, this woman, living upon the borders of the Israelitish nation, was acquainted with; so that it was not so shocking and surprising, or quite so discouraging, as it would otherwise have been. The Jewish doctors say F11, that the idolatrous Gentiles are not called men, that they are comparable to the beasts or the field F12, to oxen, rams, goats F13, and asses F14: the foetus in the bowels of a Canaanitish servant, they say F15,
``(ymd hmhb yemb dlwk) , "is like the foetus in the bowels of a beast".''Take the following passage, as an illustration of this, and as a further proof of the Jews calling the Gentiles dogs F16.
``A king provides a dinner for the children of his house; whilst they do his will they eat their meat with the king, and he gives to the dogs the part of bones to gnaw; but when the children of the house do not do the king's pleasure, he gives the dogs the dinner, and the bones to them: even so: while the Israelites do the will of their Lord, they eat at the king's table, and the feast is provided for them, and they of their own will give the bones to the Gentiles; but when they do not do the will of their Lord, lo! the feast is (yblkl) , "for the dogs", and the bones are their's.''And a little after,
``"thou preparest a table before me"; this is the feast of the king; "in the presence of mine enemies"; (yblk Nwnya) , "these are the dogs" that sit before the table, looking for their part of the bones.''In which may be clearly discerned the distinction between children and dogs, and the application of the one to the Jews, and the other to the Gentiles, and the different food that belongs to each: and hence it is easy to see from whom Christ borrowed this expression, and with what view he made use of it.
F11 T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 114. 2. Zohar in Exod. fol. 35. 4. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 1. 4.
F12 Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. & 34. 1. 2.
F13 Jarchi in Gen. 15. 10.
F14 T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 68. 1.
F15 lb. fol. 69. 1.
F16 Zohar in Exod. fol. 63. 1, 2. Vid. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 147. 4.