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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.: Chapter XVI

Early Church Fathers  Index     

16.  Concerning the Canaanitish Woman.  Meaning of the “Borders of Tyre and Sidon.”

And Jesus went out thence and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon.  And behold a Canaanitish woman.” 5487   Whence the “thence”?  Was it from the land of Gennesaret, concerning which it was said before, “And when they had crossed over they came into the land of Gennesaret?” 5488   But He withdrew, perhaps because the Pharisees were offended when they heard that “not that which entereth in, but that which proceedeth out, defileth the man;” 5489 and that, because of their being suspected of plotting against Him, it is said, “He withdrew,” is manifest from the passage, “And when He heard that John was delivered up He withdrew into Galilee.” 5490   Perhaps also on this account, when describing the things in this place, Mark says that “He rose up and went into the borders of Tyre, and having entered into the house wished no man to know it.” 5491   It is probable that He sought to avoid the Pharisees who were offended at His teaching, waiting for the time for His suffering, which was more fitting and rightly appointed.  But some one might say that Tyre and Sidon are used for the Gentiles; accordingly when He withdrew from Israel He came into the parts of the Gentiles.  Among the Hebrews, then, Tyre is called Sor, and it is interpreted “anguish.”  Sidon, which is also the Hebrew name, is rendered “hunters.”  And among the Gentiles likewise the hunters are the evil powers, and among them is great distress, the distress, namely, which exists in wickedness and passions.  When Jesus, then, went out from Gennesaret He withdrew indeed from Israel and came, not to Tyre and Sidon, but into “the parts” of Tyre and Sidon, with the result that those of the Gentiles now believe in part; so that if He had visited the whole of Tyre and Sidon, no unbeliever would have been left in it.  p. 445 Now, according to Mark, “Jesus rose up and went into the borders of Tyre,” 5492 —that is, the distress of the Gentiles,—in order that they also from these borders who believe can be saved, when they come out of them; for attend to this:  “And behold a Canaanitish woman came out from these borders and cried saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David, my daughter is terribly vexed with a demon.” 5493   And I think that if she had not come out from those borders she would not have been able to cry to Jesus with the great faith to which testimony was borne; and according to the proportion of faith one comes out from the borders among the Gentiles, which “when the Most High divided the nations He set up according to the number of the sons of Israel,” 5494 and prevented their further advance.  Here, then, certain borders are spoken of as the borders of Tyre and Sidon, but in Exodus the borders of Pharaoh, 5495 in which, they say, were formed the plagues against the Egyptians.  And we must suppose that each of us when he sins is in the borders of Tyre or Sidon or of Pharaoh and Egypt, or some one of those which are outside the allotted inheritance of God; but when he changes from wickedness to virtue he goes out from the borders of evil, and comes to the borders of the portion of God, there being among these also a difference which will be manifest to those who are able to understand the things that concern the division and the inheritance of Israel, in harmony with the spiritual law.  And attend also to the meeting, so to speak, which took place between Jesus and the Canaanitish woman; for He comes as to the parts of Tyre and Sidon, and she comes out of those parts, and cried, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David.” 5496   Now the woman was Canaanitish, which is rendered, prepared for humiliation.  The righteous, indeed, are prepared for the kingdom of heaven and for the exaltation in the kingdom of God; 5497 but sinners are prepared for the humiliation of the wickedness which is in them, and of the deeds which flow from it and prepare them for it, and of the sin which reigns in their mortal body.  Only, the Canaanitish woman came out of those borders and went forth from the state of being prepared for humiliation, crying and saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David.”



Matt. 15:21, 22.


Matt. xiv. 34.


Matt. xv. 11.


Matt. iv. 12.


Mark vii. 24.


Mark vii. 24.


Matt. xv. 22.


Deut. xxxii. 8.


Exod. viii. 2.


Matt. xv. 22.


Cf. Matt. xxv. 34.

Next: Chapter XVII