Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Story of Jesus Healing the Daughter of the Syrian Woman: What Really Happened ?
In the New Testament (NT) Bible there is a small incident described in the Gospel (of Jesus Christ) according to Mark, Chapter-7, verses 24-30. This is a passage, where Jesus is apparently equating a woman from a non-Jewish community (commonly referred to as the gentiles) to that of dogs.
Did Jesus actually make such a differentiation? What was his intention? The Bible passage is not very clear.
First let us examine what Mark wrote as translated to modern English:
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.
In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Now, I had been thinking about this for some time. I wanted to know more about what possibly could have happened. But there was no other source other than the Bible. The same story is narrated in a similar way in the Gospel according to Matthew too in the NT Bible. It is in Matthew Chapter 15 verses 21 to 28. Let me reproduce it too below:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Essentially both these Biblical narrations are the same, only with some minor changes. Here too Jesus is apparently equating this woman who was belonging to an inferior community by the community to which Jesus belonged, as dogs. Of course such caste differentiation existed in the olden times and we are aware of it.
Yet I was curious to know more. I now have my favorite book of divine revelation and life guidance, the Urantia Book, which tells exactly what had happened in this case. This is narrated in Paper-156 of this Book. Let me quote below the relevant narration from this wonderful book of celestial authorship:
On Friday afternoon of June 29th AD 29, [Put this date in the Julian Calendar conversion slot to see whether it was really a Friday! See my blog here for more details!] Jesus and his associates arrived in the environs of Sidon, where they stopped at the home of a well-to-do woman [ named Karuska ] who had been a patient in the Bethsaida hospital during the times when Jesus was at the height of his popular favor.
There lived near the home of Karuska, where the Master [Jesus] lodged, a Syrian woman [named Norona ] who had heard much of Jesus as a great healer and teacher, and on this Sabbath afternoon she came over, bringing her little daughter. The child, about twelve years old, was afflicted with a grievous nervous disorder characterized by convulsions and other distressing manifestations.
Jesus had charged his associates to tell no one of his presence at the home of Karuska, explaining that he desired to have a rest. While they had obeyed their Master’s instructions, the servant of Karuska had gone over to the house of this Syrian woman, Norana, to inform her that Jesus lodged at the home of her mistress and had urged this anxious mother to bring her afflicted daughter for healing. This mother, of course, believed that her child was possessed by a demon, an unclean spirit.
When Norana arrived with her daughter, the Alpheus twins [disciples of Jesus] explained through an interpreter that the Master was resting and could not be disturbed; whereupon Norana replied that she and the child would remain right there until the Master had finished his rest. Peter [disciple of Jesus] also endeavored to reason with her and to persuade her to go home. He explained that Jesus was weary with much teaching and healing, and that he had come to Phoenicia for a period of quiet and rest. But it was futile; Norana would not leave. To Peter’s entreaties she replied only: “I will not depart until I have seen your Master. I know he can cast the demon out of my child, and I will not go until the healer has looked upon my daughter.”
Then Thomas [disciple of Jesus] sought to send the woman away but met only with failure. To him she said: “I have faith that your Master can cast out this demon which torments my child. I have heard of his mighty works in Galilee, and I believe in him. What has happened to you, his disciples, that you would send away those who come seeking your Master’s help?” And when she had thus spoken, Thomas withdrew.
Then came forward Simon Zelotes [disciple of Jesus] to remonstrate with Norana.
Said Simon: “Woman, you are a Greek-speaking gentile. It is not right that you should expect the Master to take the bread intended for the children of the favored household and cast it to the dogs.”
But Norana refused to take offense at Simon’s thrust. She replied only: “Yes, teacher, I understand your words. I am only a dog in the eyes of the Jews, but as concerns your Master, I am a believing dog. I am determined that he shall see my daughter, for I am persuaded that, if he shall but look upon her, he will heal her. And even you, my good man, would not dare to deprive the dogs of the privilege of obtaining the crumbs which chance to fall from the children’s table.”
At just this time the little girl was seized with a violent convulsion before them all, and the mother cried out: “There, you can see that my child is possessed by an evil spirit. If our need does not impress you, it would appeal to your Master, who I have been told loves all men and dares even to heal the gentiles when they believe. You are not worthy to be his disciples. I will not go until my child has been cured.”
Jesus, who had heard all of this conversation through an open window, now came outside, much to their surprise, and said: “O woman, great is your faith, so great that I cannot withhold that which you desire; go your way in peace. Your daughter already has been made whole.”
And the little girl was well from that hour. As Norana and the child took leave, Jesus entreated them to tell no one of this occurrence; and while his associates did comply with this request, the mother and the child ceased not to proclaim the fact of the little girl’s healing throughout all the countryside and even in Sidon, so much so that Jesus found it advisable to change his lodgings within a few days.
The next day, as Jesus taught his apostles, commenting on the cure of the daughter of the Syrian woman, he said: “And so it has been all the way along; you see for yourselves how the gentiles are able to exercise saving faith in the teachings of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven.Verily, verily, I tell you that the Father’s kingdom shall be taken by the gentiles if the children of Abraham are not minded to show faith enough to enter therein.”
My dear readers! Could you see any difference in the story as retold by the celestial (non-human) authors of the revealed book of knowledge to modern mankind?
If you could discern that difference, you should consider reading this revelation to know what God wants us to know and do.
And if that desire burns even faintly inside you, you are in search of God. But nurture that desire.
May the Great God, the Universal Father of all, bless you in your endeavor!