When Jesus was outside Israel’s borders in the Roman province of Syria, a Greek woman approached to ask for help. Jesus’ response included an illustration that suggested a comparison between non-Jews and “little dogs.
Under the Mosaic Law, dogs were deemed to be unclean animals. But did Jesus mean to insult this Greek woman and other non-Jews?
Jesus’ point, as he explained to his disciples, was that his priority at that time was to help the Jews. So he illustrated the point, saying to the Greek woman: “It is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little dogs.”
Among the Greeks and Romans, the dog was often a beloved pet that lived in its owner’s house and played with the children.
So the expression little dogs might have called to mind a warm, endearing picture. The Greek woman picked up on Jesus’ words and replied:
“Yes, Lord, but really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters.”
Jesus commended her faith and healed the woman’s daughter. Matt 15:27, 28