“And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.' …But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!' …Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.' And her daughter was healed at once” (Matt 15:22, 25, 28).

It is obvious by Matthew's frequent quotations of and allusions to the Hebrew Bible that these sacred Scriptures are the primary go-to source for Matthew's readers to figure out Yeshua's true identity. By comparing the way this Canaanite woman “prays” to Yeshua with prayers to God in the Hebrew Bible, the answer to our quest for the identity of the biblical Yeshua is obvious.

Consider, for example, her plea in the original Greek. “Have mercy on me Lord” (v. 22). These same words are used many times in the book of Psalms as a prayer to God in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In Psalm 86:3-5, David prays: “HAVE MERCY ON ME, O LORD, because to you I will cry all day long. Gladden the soul of your slave, because to you, O Lord, I lifted up my soul, because it is you, O Lord, who are kind and gentle and abounding in mercy to all who call on you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my petition.” (NETS translation of the Greek Septuagint; see also 2 Sam 12:22; Ps 6:2[3]; 9:13[14]; 30:10[11]; 56:1[2]; 123:3). Likewise her plea, “Lord, help me” (v. 25), and this to the person whom Matthew has identified as God with us (Matt 1:23). These words are incredibly similar to the prayer of the sons of Korah in Psalm 44:26[27]: “Rise up, O LORD, HELP US, and redeem us for the sake of your name” (NETS translation).

What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?

Given Yeshua's biblical idenitty, it's no wonder this woman's daughter was healed at once. The only real surprise in this passage is this Canaanite woman's tremendous faith and theologically rich understanding of Yeshua over against the disciples' absence of faith and theological misunderstanding of Yeshua earlier in the book! “And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!' He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'” (Matt 8:25-27).

Would that we had the great faith and theological insights of this incredibly persistent woman!

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