Xenophobia – The Canaanite woman’s story

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This is not the first year that I have used xenophobia for my letter X post. I don’t know enough about Xerxes to try to construct a story.

Xenophobia (the fear of strangers) is not a word that appears in the Bible.  However a search of Bible Gateway suggested a story from Matthew Chapter 15:21-28.

First a little background from the Old Testament. There are many instructions in the books of the Law (Exodus to Deuteronomy) about how to treat foreigners living among the chosen people. They did not have the same rights as the people of Israel, but they were able to join in with the celebration of the Passover, for example, if they obeyed the Law by having all their males circumcised. They were to observe the Day of rest (Sabbath) and not to be oppressed. They were allowed to glean whatever remained of the harvest of various crops (presumably as they did not own any land of their own).

In the multicultural world we live in it is challenging to consider our own attitude towards foreigners and refugees. The Laws in the Bible were intended to help people live together in peace. There are also plenty of accounts in the Old Testament of wars between nations.

On a personal level it is good to treat everyone with respect. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies. Enemies may not be strangers. In some cases they are people, who live nearby, but perhaps bear a grudge against us. Perhaps you consider some groups of people as enemies.

The Canaanite woman was not one of the people of Israel. She was a foreigner. However she asked Jesus to heal her child. His reply was rather unexpected. It concentrated on her being a foreigner. She persisted in her request replying in a witty manner. Jesus healed her child. I wonder why he treated her in this way. Perhaps he wanted to make a point about other people’s prejudices. Perhaps he was exploring his calling. As the only person, who is fully God and fully man, he had to learn in the way that other people do. It is an interesting episode in the New Testament.

This year for the A to Z Challenge I have taken my 2013 Challenge as a starting point for most of the posts. I have written a post based around something or usually someone from the Bible. Sometimes it is a fictional story, for example when I have added some back stories (as a writing exercise). Sometimes it is a summary.

 I hope my readers will be challenged to consider the original texts in more depth. (If only to discover what liberties I have taken with them!)

My Y post for 2013

3 thoughts on “Xenophobia – The Canaanite woman’s story

  1. I think we should respect everyone though I don’t go out of my way to respect everyone’s belief systems especially if they are essentially anti-Christ or not in line with my values.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  2. I think we should respect everyone too. It’s interesting, though, that a lot of those who are screaming for ‘tolerance’ are very intolerant of other points of view. When I give respect, I expect respect in return.

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  3. Respecting others is important and accepting that everyone doesn’t share our belief system and social values is simply fact, but I believe respect and acceptance should be a two-way street. Unfortunately for many, it’s still, my way or the highway.

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