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Christogenea on Talkshoe – Matthew Chapters 14 and 15, July 1st, 2011
XIV 1 At that time Herodas the Tetrarch had heard the report of Yahshua, 2 and he said to his servants: “This is Iohannes the Baptist! He has risen from the dead and for this reason works of power operate in him!”
This is the first time we have seen the name Herod since chapter 2, but this is not the same Herod. There are ten different men named Herod, all of the same family of Edomites, identified in the index to Whiston's Works of Josephus. That first Herod, whom the jews like to call “the great”, is better known as the usurping murderer of the Hasamoneans and the son of the Edomite Antipater. He died just a short time after the birth of Christ, about 1 or 2 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Herod Archelaus, who was so cruel that after only a few years the Romans took the kingdom from him and exiled him to Vienna in Gaul. From that point on Judaea was split into four pieces, and rulers called tetrarchs were set over them, a tetrarch being a ruler of a fourth. Rather, this is Herod Antipas, another son of the first Herod, and he and his brother Philip each received a tetrarchy from Rome.
Herod Antipas was tetrarch over Galilee and Peraea (which was just east of the Jordan). Philip was tetrarch of Gaulanitis, Trachonitis and Panaea, which were all north of Peraea and east of the Sea of Galilee. Some time after Philip's death, another Herod, named Agrippa, was by the emperor Caligula made a king of this tetrarchy, since Philip had left no sons. Herod Agrippa was a grandson of the first Herod by Aristobulus, a son whom Herod had put to death. It is Herod the tetrarch, however, Philip's brother, the Herod who had his brother's wife, who is the Herod so prominent in the Gospels during the ministry of Christ. When John the Baptist upbraided Herod for taking Philip's wife as his own, Philip was still alive – for which see Josephus, Antiquities, 18.5.4. This Herod the tetrarch was later banished to Spain by Caligula (who was emperor from 37-41 AD), and his tetrarchy was added to the kingdom of Herod Agrippa (Josephus, Wars, 2.9.6). It is Herod Agrippa whose death is described later, in Acts chapter 12.
The family of Herod is quite confusing, since many of them were adulterers, and they married their own nieces and first cousins as well as their brother's wives, and they typically used only a handful of names across their generations. There are basically four men named Herod mentioned in the New Testament. These are Herod the usurper at the birth of Christ, Herod the tetrarch during the ministry of Christ, Herod Agrippa I in Acts chapter 12, and Herod Agrippa II at the end of Acts, who is called only Agrippa in the account given there. That last Herod had an incestuous relationship with the Bernice mentioned along with him in the account in Acts, who was his sister and not – in the civil sense – his wife.
Here we see that not only is it attributed that Herod the tetrarch was quite superstitious, but that he believed in the possibility of resurrection and therefore also in a continuance of the spirit after death. Therefore it is not likely that he followed the Sadducees, who were the high priests at the time (Acts chapter 5).
3 For Herodas having seized Iohannes had bound and put him away in prison on account of Herodias the wife of Philippos his brother. 4 For Iohannes had said to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her!” 5 And desiring to kill him, he had feared the crowd, because they held him as a prophet.
Leviticus 18:16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.
Leviticus 20:21 And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.
6 But with the birthday feast of Herodas coming to pass, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst and pleased Herodas, 7 from which he had promised with an oath to give to her whatever she may ask. 8 And being induced by her mother, “Give to me” she says, “here upon a plate the head of Iohannes the Baptist!” 9 And the king, grieving because of the oaths and those reclining together, commanded it to be provided, 10 and sending he beheaded Iohannes in the prison. 11 And his head was brought upon a plate and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And having gone forth his students took the body and buried him and having come reported it to Yahshua. 13 And hearing it Yahshua withdrew from there in a vessel to a desert place by Himself. And crowds hearing it followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 And coming out He saw a great crowd and was deeply moved by them, and He healed their sick.
Herodias was not only the former wife of Philip, this Herod's brother, but she was also their half- niece, the daughter of that Aristobulus who was the son that the first Herod put to death, and she was the full sister of Herod Agrippa I who came to rule over Herod the tetrarch's dominion.
Herod the tetrarch and Philip were both sired by the first Herod with Mariamne, the daughter of Hyrcanus, the last High Priest of the Hasamonean dynasty, whom Herod killed. It is amazing, that the man whom the jews love to call “Herod the Great” gained his kingdom by bribery and treachery, and had killed both several of his own sons, wives, his father-in-law, and many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other people. He even married his own niece (contrary to Hebrew law), as many of his children and grandchildren later did. Herod Agrippa was the son of this first Herod by his niece, the daughter of his sister Salome, and she was named Bernice. We have seen that Herod Agrippa also had two children – Herod Agrippa II and Bernice, who were themselves later involved in incest. The name Bernice is recorded among women six times in the family of Herod – adding to the confusion. The Herodiana who was married to both Philip and then Herod the Tetrarch, was also a daughter of Aristobulus, the son of the first Herod, and so she was both wife and niece to each of them.
[If you don't get the picture by now, the Herodian family tree was basically shaped like a long two-by-four: it went straight up!]
Here is what Josephus wrote of the death of John, after Herod had gone to war against Aretas the king of Arabia and suffered defeat:
2. (116) Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; (117) for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [ with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. (118) Now, when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. (119) Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure against him.
The Romans, as Josephus goes on to describe, then sent Vitellius with two legions against Aretus king of Arabia. Now it should be evident, that Josephus' account, written perhaps 60 years after these things actually happened, is revisionist in the reason he gave for Herod's having killed John. It may well have been that this was the excuse later used by Herod, who was clearly embarrassed at the circumstances under which he put John to death, and we need not look on either version as suspect or even totally dishonest. What we actually see is the difference between eyewitness account and political history, much like we see all the time today, where accounts of events are spun in order to suit those in power.
15 Now it becoming late the students came forth to Him saying “The place is a desert and the time has already passed! Release the crowds, in order that departing into the villages they may buy food for themselves.” 16 But Yahshua said to them: “They have no need to depart, you give to them to eat.” 17 Then they say to Him: “We have not here except five loaves and two fish.” 18 But He said: “Bring them here to Me.” 19 And commanding the crowds to recline upon the grass, taking the five loaves and two fish, looking up into the heaven He blessed and having broken them gave the loaves to the students, and the students to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were filled, and they took the excess of fragments, filling twelve baskets. 21 Now those men eating were about five thousand, besides women and children!
This event is also described in Mark chapter 6, Luke chapter 9, and John chapter 6. There is a similar event described in Matthew chapter 15 and Mark chapter 8. There is no precise Old Testament prophecy of this miracle, but there is – aside from the feeding of Israel with manna in the desert for forty years - an Old Testament precedent for this miracle, at 2 Kings 4: 42: “And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. 43 And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. 44 So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.” While it is not as extreme an example as a few loaves and fish for five thousand, we see that a large group of people were somehow filled, and there were leftovers, from a relatively small amount of food, and there were certainly women and children with the hundred men also, as there were with the five thousand.
These examples are here so that we know, that if indeed God wants us to eat, then we shall eat and we shall have plenty. The manna in the desert did not fail our fathers for forty years. The woman of Zarephath who comforted Elijah ate for many days from a small amount of meal and oil, while there was a great famine in the land because it did not rain for quite some time. It says at 1 Kings 17:16: that “the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.” When Elijah met the woman, the barrel contained but a handful of meal. Christ tells us in Luke chapter 12: “22 … Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.” We should believe Him – our God shall provide for us in the hardest of times.
This same event where Yahshua fed the five thousand from a few loaves and fish, and then walked on the water to catch up with His disciples, is also recorded in the Gospel of John, in chapter 6. John wrote from a very different perspective, and recorded some things which happened afterward which Matthew did not record, and among them is the great “Bread of Life” discourse. Here is part of the conversation from John which Matthew did not include here:
John 6:22 On the next day the crowd which stood across the sea had seen that there was not another boat there except one, and that Yahshua had not entered together with His students into the vessel, but only His students had departed. 23 But vessels came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate the bread giving thanks to Yahweh. 24 Therefore when the crowd had seen that Yahshua is not there, nor His students, they themselves boarded into the boats and came to Kapharnaoum seeking Yahshua. 25 And finding Him across the sea they said to Him “Rabbi, when did You arrive here?” [We are about to read Matthew's description of the account where Yahshua had walked on the water to meet His disciples.]
John 6:26 Yahshua replied to them and said: “Truly, truly I say to you, you seek Me not because you have seen signs, but because you have eaten of the loaves and have been satiated! 27 You must work not for that food which perishes but for that food which abides for eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you. Indeed Yahweh the Father has confirmed Him!” [If we seek the food which abides for eternal life, He shall provide for us the food which perishes, our daily bread.] 28 Then they said to Him “What should we do that we may accomplish the works of Yahweh?” 29 Yahshua replied and said to them: “This is the work of Yahweh: that you would believe in Him whom He sent!” [As Paul says in 1 Timothy chapter 6, that includes believing in all of His Word.]
John 6:30 Then they said to Him: “Then what sign do You do, in order that we would see and we may believe in You? What could You accomplish? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, just as it is written: ‘bread from heaven He had given them to eat.’” [John seeks to demonstrate to us their argumentativeness. They either saw, or at least heard the accounts, of how He had just fed the five thousand from so little food. Now they seem to be saying to Him “big deal, our fathers ate manna in the desert”, as if to attempt to belittle what He had done. ] 32 Then Yahshua said to them: “Truly, truly I say to you, Moses did not give to you bread from heaven, but My Father gives to you the true bread from heaven! [They sought their righteousness from the laws of Moses alone, and not from God.] 33 For the bread of Yahweh is He descending from heaven and giving life to the Society! [Meaning the society which He had created, and not the society which had become corrupted by the Adversary.]” 34 Then they said to Him: “Prince, always give to us this bread!” 35 Yahshua said to them: “I am the bread of life! He coming to Me shall not hunger, and he believing in Me shall not ever thirst!
“36 But I have said to you that even you have seen Me and you do not believe. 37 Each whom the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and he coming to Me I shall not cast outside, 38 because I have descended from heaven not in order that I would do that of My will, but the will of He who has sent Me. 39 This is the will of He who has sent Me: That each of them who are given to Me I shall not destroy, but I shall resurrect them in the last day. [This describes all of Israel, and then all of the other Adamic nations.] 40 For this is the will of My Father: that each who seeing the Son and believing in Him would have eternal life [as Peter described that Christ preached the gospel to those who died before the flood], and I shall resurrect him in the last day.
22 And immediately He compelled the students to board into the vessel and to go ahead of Him to the other side, until when He would release the crowds. 23 And releasing the crowds He went up into the mountain by Himself to pray. And it becoming late He was there alone. 24 And the vessel was already many stades away from the land, being tried by the waves, for there was an opposing wind. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night [between approximately three and six on our clocks] He came to them, walking upon the sea. 26 And the students seeing Him walking upon the sea were troubled, saying that it is an apparition, and they cried out from fear. 27 But immediately Yahshua spoke to them, saying: “Have courage! It is I, do not fear!” 28 Then responding to Him, Petros said “Prince, if it is You, bid for me to come to You upon the waters!” 29 And He said “Come!” And descending from the vessel Petros walked upon the waters and came to Yahshua. 30 But seeing the wind he feared, and beginning to sink cried out, saying “Prince, save me!” 31 Then immediately Yahshua extending the hand took hold of him and says to him: “You of little faith, for what reason do you doubt?” 32 And upon their ascending into the vessel, the wind abated. 33 Then those in the vessel worshipped Him, saying “You are truly a Son of Yahweh!”
I may have read this passage when discussing Matthew chapter 8, where Christ was asleep on the boat and the disciples woke Him up, in fear of the storm, but I did not. Here is Psalm 107:28-30, from the Septuagint: “28 Then they cry to the Lord in their affliction, and he brings them out of their distresses. 29 And he commands the storm, and it is calmed into a gentle breeze, and its waves are still. 30 And they are glad, because they are quiet; and he guides them to their desired haven.”
There is no prophecy of Christ walking on water that I have found, but there are some poetic references in prophecy to Yahweh doing this same thing: Psalm 77:19: “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.”; Job 9:8: “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.”; and Isaiah 43:16: “Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters”. So by walking on the water, I believe that Christ again shows us that indeed He is Yahweh. He also shows us, I believe, that we will overcome the physical world, if indeed we follow Him, as He told us, at Matthew 17:20: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
34 And crossing over they came upon the land at Gennesaret. 35 And recognizing Him, the men of that place sent into that whole surrounding region and they brought to Him all those being ill 36 and exhorted Him that they may only touch the border of His garment. And as many who touched recovered.
The word Gennesaret is apparently the Hellenized form of Kinneroth, an Old Testament town of Naphtali, and the same as the Old Testament name for the Sea of Galilee, which was the Sea of Chinneroth (Joshua 12:3). The town was on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was called Lake Tiberias by the Romans.
We see in Luke chapter 8 the woman who had the flow of blood for twelve years, who also believed that she would be healed if only she touched the border of His garment, and she was.
XV 1 Then the Pharisees and scribes came forth from Jerusalem to Yahshua, saying: 2 “For what reason do Your students transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash the hands when they eat bread!” 3 And replying He said to them: “For what reason then do you transgress the commandment of Yahweh by your tradition? 4 For Yahweh said ‘Honor the father and the mother’ [Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16], and ‘He speaking evil of father or mother must die by sentence of death’ [Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9]. 5 But you say ‘Whoever should say to father or mother: ‘Whatever you may benefit from me is a gift’, 6 shall by no means honor his father’, and you have made void the Word of Yahweh by your tradition. [Proverbs 28:24 Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.] 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you, saying: ‘This people honors Me with the lips, but their hearts are far from Me. 9 And vainly do they worship Me, teaching for education the commandments of men.’”
Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.
First, the laws of God should govern us all, and are an absolutely necessary component of Christian civilization. However in Jeremiah Chapter 8, verse 8, and I will quote it from the NAS, Yahweh says “How can you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made it into a lie.” The Pharisees had traditions which they claimed were developed from am obviously imperfect law! Yet they were really the artificial elaborations of men, and there is no real proof that they were the traditions of the Hebrew elders. They may well have been the traditions of the elders of the ancient Edomites, which the Pharisees claimed had been from Moses, since some of their practices to this very day seem to be quite alien to the Old Testament. On another note, since the letter of the Old Testament law is corrupted in at least some places, and since the law was never meant to cover every situation which a man should face by its letter alone, it is by the examples set in the Old Testament and by the words of God throughout the Scripture that we should seek guidance from in order to govern our lives, and not from the letter of the law alone.
There is a parenthetical statement explaining the position of the Pharisees in Mark chapter 7, verses 3 and 4: “3 for the Pharisees and all the Judaeans if they do not wash the hands to the elbow they do not eat, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and from the marketplace if they do not rinse they do not eat, and there are many other things which they undertook to hold to, washings of cups and pitchers and pots.” So we see even in minor things that the Pharisees sought to regulate life to the extreme. We have many of these same legalists among us today – especially in our bureaucracy. However even in our own Christian Identity community there are those who seek to rule over their brethren with the letter of the law, and inject themselves into aspects of their lives where they do not belong.
10 And calling to the crowd He said to them: “You hear and understand! 11 That which goes into the mouth does not defile the man, but that coming out from the mouth, this defiles the man!”
A lot of really silly people, and perhaps a lot of outright deceivers, have over the years turned this statement into an insistence that Christ would advocate the consumption of poisons as an act of faith, or the eating of swine, or many other things which are obviously not fit to eat. But in context, here He is only talking about food. The Pharisees were taking the law to extremes, so insistent that a man must not consume a speck of dirt or a mite or a gnat that they sought to regulate their entire lives with such strict commandments. Christ is simply telling them that a little dirt really does not matter, and that such is not why the law was given in the first place. Likewise, it is recorded in Matthew chapter 23 that He called them “Blind guides, straining out the gnat, but swallowing the camel!”
12 Then the students having come forth say to Him: “Do You know that the Pharisees are offended hearing the Word?” 13 Then He replying said: “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be uprooted! 14 Leave them alone, they are blind leaders, and if the blind should lead the blind, both shall fall into a ditch!”
It can be clearly ascertained in the Bible and in history, that many of the Pharisees and other members of the ruling class in Jerusalem were Canaanite-Edomites, and not Israelites. “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted” tells us that there are people here which Yahweh did not create. This is why Yahweh lamented, as it is recorded in Jeremiah chapter 2, “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” This is also one reason why Christ said, as we saw last week in Matthew chapter 13, that “... the kingdom of the heavens is like a net having been cast into the sea and it gathers from out of every race, 48 which when it is full, bringing up upon the shore and sitting they gather the good ones into vessels, but the rotten ones they cast out.”
The only race that the Bible records Yahweh as having explicitly planted is the Adamic race. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, which are the fallen angels, were already here when Adam was created. They were engaged in miscegenation from the beginning, and possibly even long before the time of Adam, as is evident in some of the Enoch literature. The archaeological record surely cannot be used to disagree with this interpretation, and can rather be used to support it. The parable of the net certainly indicates that only the Adamic race is left in the end, as do several other parables and scriptures in the New Testament. For only the Adamic race can be the Wheat of the parable of the wheat and the tares, or the Sheep in the parable of the sheep and the goats, or the Sons in Paul's statement concerning sons and bastards. The rest of the people in the world, the “every race” of the parable of the net or the “all nations” of the parable of the sheep and the goats, can only fit into the non-Sheep category. As the apostle John explains in the fourth chapter of his first epistle, there are people who are the children of God, who came from God, and there are people who are of the world, meaning that their origin is found in the world. Since God created all things, and the world can create nothing of its own, those who come from the world must be those violations of “kind after kind” which can come only from miscegenation, and we cannot give God credit – we cannot blame God - for transgression.
15 Then responding Petros said to Him “Elucidate the parable for us!” 16 And He said: “Still also are you without understanding? 17 Do you not perceive that everything going into the mouth is contained in the belly and cast out in the latrine? 18 But the things coming out from the mouth come out from the heart, and these things defile the man. 19 For from out of the heart come evil arguments, murders, acts of adultery, acts of fornication, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile the man, but to eat with unwashed hands would not defile the man.”
The imaginings which come from the heart of man do much more to defile him than the eating of some dirt or a gnat. The Pharisees cared more about regulating the minute details of life than they did for gaining a true understanding of the Scriptures!
21 And having departed from there Yahshua withdrew into the regions of Turos and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from those borders having come out cried out saying “Pity me, Master, Son of David! My sick daughter is possessed by a demon!” 23 But He did not respond to her a word. And coming forth His students begged Him saying: “Dismiss her, for she cries out from behind us!” 24 Then replying He said: “I have not been sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!” 25 But she coming makes obeisance to Him, saying “Master, help me!” 26 But He responding said “It is not good to take the bread of the children and to cast it to the little dogs!” 27 Then she said “Yes, Master, yet the little dogs eat from the crumbs falling from the table of their masters!” 28 Then replying Yahshua said to her: “O woman, great is your belief! It must be for you as you desire.” And her daughter had been healed from that moment.
Before beginning to explain this account, it must be understood that this woman was indeed a Canaanite, and nothing else. Mark calls the woman in his version of the account a “Syro-Phoenician”. That is not a Greek ethnic description, but only a geographical description. Mark also calls her a “Greek”, but neither is that an ethnic description, but only a cultural one! The Greeks did not call themselves Greeks, but rather they called themselves after either their tribes or their districts. The term “Greek” properly represented a language and a manner of living. However Matthew, a Hebrew, identifies the woman as a Canaanite, which is a word virtually unknown to the Greeks, and which was not an ethnic or a geographical description in use at the time. The Greeks knew of Syrians, Idumaeans, Arabians, etc., but not as Canaanites. Therefore Matthew must be identifying her from a racial perspective, and the Greeks were not aware of the Canaanite race as a distinct entity, excepting what is found in the Septuagint, in the passages referring to those events of antiquity. However the Hebrews were aware of the Canaanites, and could make a more accurate distinction, being much more intimate with them. The woman is clearly a Canaanite.
Here, in the account of Christ and the Canaanite woman, we have a model of the suppliant recognizing and beseeching a powerful man. The concept of the suppliant was very important in the ancient world, and we in modern times have lost it in the mechanizations of bureaucracy. A suppliant, or supplicant, is today in English merely one who makes a humble, earnest, and expectantly sincere plea for something from another. But in the ancient world the idea had a religious connotation attached to it. Those who refused suppliants were seen as cruel, and invited the wrath of the gods – or of God – upon themselves. Suppliants often acted in desperation, and took olive branches as a sign of their humbled state, sometimes even wearing garments of mourning, throwing themselves at the feet of a ruler, a general, or even an altar, often grasping the garment of the one they sought favor from, and they begged earnestly for the mercy that they wished to receive.
The Greek tragic poets very often portrayed suppliants in their plays. Euripides wrote a play, Suppliant Women. Aeschylus likewise, Suppliant Maidens. Both of those stories are accounts of the Danaans who had come from Egypt to Argos, in ancient Greece. The opening line of Aeschylus' version, from the Loeb Classical Library, reads thus, a chorus of Danaan women doing the talking: “May Zeus, who guardeth suppliants, of his grace look upon our company that took ship and put to sea from the outmost land of fine sand at the outlets of the Nile.” The suppliant was often a subject of Greek poetry, and of history, whether the suppliant be at the feet of a general or king, an ancient hero, or the altar of a pagan idol.
From Plato, Laws, Book 5, on suppliants: In his relations to strangers, a man should consider that a contract is a most holy thing, and that all concerns and wrongs of strangers are more directly dependent on the protection of God, than wrongs done to citizens; for the stranger, having no kindred and friends, is more to be pitied by Gods and men. Wherefore, also, he who is most able to avenge him is most zealous in his cause; and he who is most able is the genius and the god of the stranger, who follow in the train of Zeus, the god of strangers. And for this reason, he who has a spark of caution in him, will do his best to pass through life without sinning against the stranger. And of offences committed, whether against strangers or fellow-countrymen, that against suppliants is the greatest. For the God who witnessed to the agreement made with the suppliant, becomes in a special manner the guardian of the sufferer; and he will certainly not suffer unavenged.
From Livy, the ancient Roman historian, here we shall see some references shedding light on the ancient concept of the suppliant:
From Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2 Chapter 14, describing a war between Rome and the Etruscans: “By these means the Etrurians, after having almost gained the victory, were surrounded and cut to pieces: a very small part of them, their general being lost, and no place of safety nearer, made the best of their way to Rome, without arms, and in their circumstances and appearance merely like suppliants; there they were kindly received, and provided with lodgings: when their wounds were cured, some of them returned home, and gave an account of the hospitality and kindness which they had experienced. A great number remained at Rome, induced by the regard which they had contracted for their hosts and for the city: they had ground allotted to them for building houses, which was afterwards called the Tuscan street.”
From Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2 Chapter 14, of an event which took place during the Punic Wars: Hippocrates and Epycides knowing them by their standards, and the fashion of their armour, advanced to them, holding out olive branches and other emblems of suppliants, and besought them to receive them into their ranks, to protect them there, and not to betray them into the hands of the Syracusans, by whom they themselves would soon be delivered up to the Romans, to be murdered. The Cretans immediately, with one voice, bade them keep up their courage, for they should share every fortune with them.
From Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45 Chapter 6, on the defeat of Perseus the king of Macedon, in a final military defeat at the hands of the Romans, at which he took refuge in a temple on Samothrace: “Then, after uttering many execrations against fortune, and the gods to whom the temple belonged, for not affording aid to a suppliant, he [Perseus] surrendered himself, and his son, to [Cneius] Octavius.”
From Homer's Odyssey, Book 9, Odysseus is addressing Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians, on the legendary island of Scheria: "We were frightened out of our senses by his loud voice and monstrous form, but I managed to say, 'We are Achaeans on our way home from Troy, but by the will of Jove, and stress of weather, we have been driven far out of our course. We are the people of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, who has won infinite renown throughout the whole world, by sacking so great a city and killing so many people. We therefore humbly pray you to show us some hospitality, and otherwise make us such presents as visitors may reasonably expect. May your excellency fear the wrath of heaven, for we are your suppliants, and Jove takes all respectable travellers under his protection, for he is the avenger of all suppliants and foreigners in distress.'
Once we understand the importance which was placed on such supplication in the ancient world, we can begin to understand the exchange between Yahshua and the Canaanite woman. Here I will repeat the passage from Matthew:
21 And having departed from there Yahshua withdrew into the regions of Turos and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from those borders having come out cried out saying “Pity me, Master, Son of David! My sick daughter is possessed by a demon!” 23 But He did not respond to her a word. And coming forth His students begged Him saying: “Dismiss her, for she cries out from behind us!” 24 Then replying He said: “I have not been sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!” 25 But she coming makes obeisance to Him, saying “Master, help me!” 26 But He responding said “It is not good to take the bread of the children and to cast it to the little dogs!” 27 Then she said “Yes, Master, yet the little dogs eat from the crumbs falling from the table of their masters!” 28 Then replying Yahshua said to her: “O woman, great is your belief! [Faith, not 'The Faith', the Greek word πίστις (pistis) is the common Greek word for a faith, belief, assurance, or confidence. It is also in certain contexts sometimes translated as credit, trust, or even honesty. Not every time that the word appears in Scripture does it refer to the saving faith which Israelites have in Yahweh our God. The woman admitted that she was not deserving, but trusted that He could do as she had heard that He could – heal her daughter.] It must be for you as you desire.” And her daughter had been healed from that moment.
Yahshua did not desire to help the Canaanite woman, even though by calling Him the “son of David” she recognized His legitimate claim as King, the heir to the throne of David. He told her that His coming was for Israel exclusively, and for nobody else. Of course since Yahweh does not change, that is still true today. The woman was clearly unworthy of His attention. The apostles wanted to get rid of her, and they were never chastised for that attitude, therefore it could not have been wrong. But the women continued, and made obeisance to Him, meaning that she fell to His feet in her begging for His mercy.
The woman, once having fully – and evidently sincerely - agreeing with all of Christ's statements, by all measures of mercy and clemency, it not actually costing Yahshua anything to grant her wish, He was given little choice but to do so. He always complied with the cultural norms of the time, and it cost Him nothing, such as when Peter retrieved the coin from the mouth of the fish to pay the strangers' tax. The woman, while an enemy, was a supplicant who recognized both His kingship and His purpose, and had agreed with Him fully, while prostrating herself at His feet. Since it was He who also declared that the Wheat and the Tares must live together until the time of the end, He had little choice in the perspective of His Own stated righteousness, than to grant her wish as she desired. However His granting her wish, which was the healing of her daughter, does not mean that she is granted salvation in the context of eternal life. She is still a dog, and her daughter is still a dog. When the time of the end comes, they or their descendants are still going to be gathered and burned in the fire, since they are still tares. Granting her wish, she was not somehow transformed into a sheep.
29 And passing over from there Yahshua went by the sea of Galilaia, and ascending into the mountain sat there. 30 And there came to Him many crowds having among themselves the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others and they cast them by His feet, and He healed them, 31 so that the crowd wonders seeing the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, and the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they honored the God of Israel.
This is all in fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah concerning Him. Luke 7:22: “And replying He said to them: 'Going, report to Iohannes the things which you have seen and you have heard: The blind have their sight restored and the lame walk about, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor are brought good news, 23 and blessed is he who is not offended by Me!'”
32 Then Yahshua summoning His students said: “I am deeply moved by the crowd, because already three days they remain with Me and they do not have anything to eat, and I do not wish to dismiss them fasting, lest they should faint on the road.” 33 And the students say to Him: “From where for us in the desert are there so many loaves so as to feed such a crowd?” 34 And Yahshua says to them “How many loaves do you have?” And they said “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And commanding the crowd to recline upon the ground 36 He took the seven wheat-loaves and the fish and blessing, broke and gave them to the students, and the students to the crowds, 37 and they all ate and were filled. And they took the excess of the fragments, filling seven creels. 38 And those eating were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And releasing the crowds He had boarded into a vessel and came to the regions of Magadan.
This event is also recorded in Mark chapter 8. Again, Christ is the Bread of Life in the desert. As our fathers had only manna in the desert for sustenance for forty years, therefore we should choose only the Word of Yahshua for our true sustenance.