What Nation Was that Gentile Woman From?

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Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

In Matthew 15:22, we are told that the Gentile woman who went and met Jesus in order to ask his help to cure her daughter was a Canaanite:

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

Canaan is the area now known as current-day Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[1]

However, Mark 7:26 informs us that the woman was from Syro-Phoenicia:

“The woman was a Greek and a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.”

Phoenicia is a name of the area (current Lebanon, the area near Beirut) which was incorporated into the Roman province of Syria (hence the name Syro-Phoenicia). Syro-Phoenicia is in the southwest region, which includes not only the coastal Phoenicia but also the territory beyond the mountains and into the Syrian desert.[2]

Syro-Phoenicia and Canaan are miles apart and therefore cannot be the same nation. According to Mark, the woman was a Greek by birth from the nation of Syro-Phenicia, yet Matthew informs us that the same woman was from Canaan. Definately a contradiction here.


[1] Encyclopedia Brittanica, 20th edition

[2] ibid.Endmark




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