Children & Dogs: More on Mark 7:24-30
One further observation about the little scene between Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 is that the initial response ascribed to Jesus is not a derogatory reference to the woman, or a simple misogynist or racial put-down, but is instead a parable-like saying specifically appropriate to the woman.
In the ancient setting, a woman with a child at home has, as a prominent responsibility, seeing that food is prepared and provided for her family. And in such a setting, with both children and household dogs, every such woman would practice exactly what Jesus is portrayed as saying: You first feed the children, then the household dogs. In short, Mark has Jesus using here a proverbial-like saying with which she could specifically relate. (I don’t think commentators have noticed this.)
The woman’s response is entirely in entering into the scene projected in the domestic picture given in this proverbial saying, cleverly noting what mothers in such situations also know–that household dogs do get morsels from the table while awaiting their turn to be fed, dropped from the children’s portions. It’s almost an amusing response, and I am inclined to think that Mark intended readers to smile knowingly. (But you have to have been privileged, as I was, to have grown up in households where the dogs were fed leftovers from the family food. There are some advantages to being an old fart brought up in simple circumstances!)