Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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which, however, he does not withhold. "Do you not understand
that whatsoever enters the mouth goes into the stomach, and is
evacuated into the draught? But the things coming out of the
mouth come from the heart, and they profane the man. For out
of the heart come forth evil purposes, murders, adulteries, forni-
cations, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies: these are the things
that profane a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not/'
This is consistent with all his teachings, that a man's purity must
be that of the character interfused through the whole life.

It was quite apparent now that the Jewish ecclesiastical au-
thorities meditated extreme measures. The labors of Jesus and
his Apostles had been exhaustive. There was a
Matt, xv.; Mark fearful ordeal in advance of them: Jesus mani-

vn. In Phoenicia. .

restly saw that, whether it was apparent to the

others or not. His field of operations was daily more and more
circumscribed by his enemies. lie could not " walk" in Judaea
nor in Galilee without being beset by his ecclesiastical foes.
Capernaum could no longer be a retreat to him. It would seem
that in view of these things Jesus meditated a season of retire-
ment, and so withdrew his disciples up towards the confines of
Phoenicia, designated in Matthew and Mark by the names of the
two principal cities, Tyre and Sidon.

It has been a epiestion whether Jesus ever crossed the boundary
of his native country during his public ministry. It is not neces-
sarily implied in the words of Matthew and Mark, " into the
coasts," "into the borders of Tyre and Sidon." The word may
be as well translated " towards," or " unto," as " into." That
he had declared his ministry to be confined to the Jewish people


does not touch the question, because he was seeking a place where '
he might for a season have recuperative repose, which he could
better find in a heathen country in which he did not intend to
preach. But now the question has been settled by the recently
discovered Codex Sinaiticus, the text of which, in Mark vii. 31,
is, " And again going from the coasts of Tyre he went through
Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of

Of a woman of this country one of the most touching of all
the stories in the New Testament history is narrated. Jesus
sought retirement. lie went into a house and
took measures to prevent persons from seeking Syro-Phoe-

i • -r> , i \ i ,ii.i o n nician woman,

him. ±>ut he could not be hid. borne report or

his power had crossed the frontier and reached the ears of a wo-
man in those coasts. She now heard that Jesus, a descendant of
that great Jewish king who was the wonderful Solomon's father,
a worker of many cures, the most beneficent of prophets, was in
the neighborhood. Her daughter was strangely and fearfully
ifrlicted, and her countrymen, in common with the Jews, believed
in demoniacal possession. She had nothing but this great afflic-
tion to commend her to the attention of Jesus. Everything was
against her. Her nationality was an offshoot of that base Canaan-
itish stock that God had aforetime doomed to utter destruction,
but which had been spared by the weakness of the ancestors of
the people to whom Jesus belonged. She was a Syro-Phomician.
Then, in her creed, she was a pagan — a Greek. So she had in
her veins the blood of three hated races — Greek, Syrian, and
Phoenician : and her religion was against her in her appeal to the
Jewish prophet.

But her grief and love for her daughter transcended all such
considerations. She sought Jesus and found him, and fell at his

feet, and besought him, saying : " O sir, David's „

. ° ii. • Her persistence.

Son, pity me! for my daughter is grievously de-

monizedl" For the first time in his career Jesus seemed un-
touched by the plea of suffering. He paid no attention to the
suppliant at his feet. lie answered her not a word. But sho
fallowed him, prosecuting her pleadings. At length the disciples
put in a word in her behalf. " Dismiss her: for she cries after
us." That this word was in her favor is manifest from the reply
of Jesus, but it seems to have conic rather from a desire to


be rid of her importunity than from any special regard for the
poor petitioner. The reply was another discouragement to the
agonized mother : " I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the
house of Israel." This reminded them of the limit of their own
commission, and perhaps recalled to them the fact that Jesus had
made no cures of any heathen. It did not positively say that he
would not grant their request and hearken to her prayer, but that
if he did so it would transcend the limits of his mission and
theirs. To the woman it must have sounded like a fresh repulse.

She had, however, made her daughter's case her own, with such
motherly sympathy that when she opened her petitions to Jesus
it was in the pathetic appeal, " Pity me ! " as if she were the
sufferer. Such love is unconquerable. She could not go back to
her daughter with no relief. The picture of the paroxysms of the .
wretched patient goaded her maternal heart to utmost effort.

Again she worshipped him. Again she cried : " O sir, help
me ! " As if she had said: " I cannot go wholly unhelped : if my
daughter cannot be utterly cured, do something for me ! I leave
it to your wisdom and goodness to decide what." Jesus again re-
pulsed her by a speech embodying a picture from domestic life.
His first word to her was : " It is not a fair thing to take the
bread of the children and throw it away (waste it) on the little

All the history of Jesus shows the fineness of his organization.

It is a remembrance of this which must help us here. With

what tone and look did Jesus utter this speech ?

Jesus tries her Tq fancy ^^ ^ meant tnat fafe anx j us mother

at his feet was a dog, would be a wretched f orget-
fulness of the whole spirit of Jesus thus far manifested in his
words and works, especially in his treatment of women. He did
not mean that. The woman knew, and the disciples knew, that
the Jews were accustomed to apply the unhandsome epithet of
" dog " to all heathens. He never could have called any woman
a " whelp." None but the grossest of all gross men ever apply
this word to any woman, and then they conceive her to be the
basest of all base women. There is nothing here to justify this
interpretation. He was simply reminding them of what the
Pharisees and Scribes would say if he should help this woman,
and also presenting to them in concrete words the abstract but
vigorous prejudices of their own hearts against all peoples whe


were not of their nation, as if he had said : " Ton know that the
Jews are Jehovah's peculiar children, and that this woman is a
dog of a Canaanite; would you have your Master outrage all
decency and orthodoxy by helping /(erf" The coldest of most
impoetic historians might fancy that a faint smile of pity for their
narrowness passed over his now benignant features as he uttered
these gently satirical words.

There was something in that look which stimulated the poor
pleader's fainting hope. In the light of the smile which fell on
her eyes, her heart — a woman's and a mother's — seemed to detect
a warmth from the inmost soul of Jesus which escaped the eyes
of the disciples, and which could not possibly be transferred to a
written narrative. Quick-witted, persistent, faithful, she caught
at the very word " little-dogs." In the original it is only one
word. lie did not employ the harshest name for those worth-
less, vicious, vagabond canine prowlers through oriental villages.
It is the only passage, so far as I can recollect, in the Bible his-
tories, in which occurs any allusion to dogs which is not much
against that animal. The word here is a diminutive, softening
the meaning, not intensifying the contemptuousness. And it Is a
home scene. The little dogs are in the house; they are men-
tioned in close connnection with " the children." It was a hint
to her faith. She caught it, and replied with admirable spirit and
celerity. She did not deny what Jesus affirmed, but gave it a
most sudden turn in her own favor. She did not degrade her-
self. She did not allow herself to be worthless as a dog. It was
the love for her daughter which gave her strength to hold herself
up while her self-respect was thus apparently tortured by another
and held down by herself. She loved another better than she
loved herself. She said : " True, sir ; but even the dogs eat of
the crumbs falling from the table of their masters." She assented
to the truth of the general proposition of Jesus, but argued that
so far from being a reason for her rejection it contained a reason
for her acceptance. She does not make a demand for even the
crumbs, but she pleads that she may not be driven from even

Simon Peter must have resembled Martin Luther in many of
his characteristics. When Luther read this passage he burst ut
so that you can almost hear the clapping of his hands in bis

written syllables: "Was uot thai a ni:i-tt t Stroke 1 She snared


Jesus in his own words ! " With what delight the fo. lowers of
Jesus must have regarded the swift beauty of this most finely
delicate repartee. How could Peter contain him-

Jesus appreci-
ates holy wit.


How he must have glanced from the face

of the Pagan at her prayer to the sad face of the
wearied but good Jesus, who was gazing down into her eyes, to
cee the effect of his speech. And when the reply came, the most
spiritual bon mot on record, if the exuberant Peter did not flow
over with gesticulations of delight, Jesus broke into applause at
the wit of the speech and the humility and faith of the utterer.
" O woman ! great your faith ! Be it unto you even as you de-
sire ! " The prophet that at first refused to listen to her, and then
repelled her, and then seemed to insult her, now that her faith
has triumphed, gives her all. " Your utmost wish in its very form
is granted." She rose, withdrew, and found on her return that
her daughter had recovered while she lay pleading at the sad and
holy Prophet's wearied and dusty feet.

There was no more rest for Jesus. He could not be quiet in
Judasa, nor in Galilee, nor in a heathen country. He was not
disposed to hasten any crisis ; but if he must
work it must be in his own country. He resolved
to return. From Tyre he went northward " through
Sidon,"* probably going by a circuit through the
mountainous country which lies between Tyre and Lebanon, where
he might have opportunity for solemn retirement and deep dis-
course with his disciples. But we have no itinerary of this jour-
ney. He may have crossed from the Phoenician boundaries di-
rectly to Hermon, and down by the east bank of the Jordan towards
the lake, and thus have gone through the midst of Decapolis.
ISTor do we know exactly what part of Decapolis was thus visited.
This name, which means " Ten Cities," and describes a region,
was east of the Jordan, except a little territory near the western
bank, at the southern end of the lake, and called Scythopolis.
Upon the conquest of Syria by the Romans (b.c. 65) these ten
cities were rebuilt, colonized, and allowed certain peculiar munici-
pal privileges, making an assemblage of little principalities some-
what after the manner of the Ilanse Towns of Germany. Various

The Decapolis.
Slatt. xv. ; Mark
pii. , viii.

* Aia 2i5ii os is the text in the Codex
FUnait., and is now the accepted reading,
being well authenticated, Tischendorf,

Alford, Tragelles, Meyer, Lachmann,
and others following it.

minis. ».uul



lists of Dames are given. Perhaps the larger number of authori-
ties agree on the following: namely, Damascus, now the oldest
city in the world ; Scythopolis, whose site is well known ; Gadara;
Pella ; Philadelphia, which was the ancient Rabboth Amnion ;


Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 41 of 77)