Sy'ro-Phoeni'cian (Συροφοίνισσα v.r. Συροφοινίκισσα), a general name (Mr 7:26) of a (female) inhabitant of the northern portion of Phoenicia, which was popularly called Syro-Phoenicia, by reason of its proximity to Syria and its absorption by conquest into that kingdom. SEE PHOENICIA. The name is made especially interesting to the scriptural student on account of the woman who besought our Lord in behalf of her afflicted daughter, and the miraculous cure wrought by him on the latter. Matthew calls the woman a woman of Canaan (Mr 15:22), being in respect to her nationality, in common with the Phoenicians, a descendant of Canaan; Mark describes her as "a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by nation" (Mr 7:26), but Rosenmüller rightly observes that the Jews called all Gentiles Greeks ( ῾Ελλήνες), just as the Greeks called all strangers barbarians. She was therefore a Greek, or Gentile, and a native of that part of Syria which belonged to Phoenicia. We have a curious instance of the interchange made in respect to the term's Canaanites aid Phoenicians, of an earlier kind, in the case of Shaul, the son of Simeon, who is said in Genesis (Ge 46:10), according to the Sept., to be the son of a Phoenician woman, and in Exodus (Ex 6:15), to be the son of a Canaanitish woman. The case of the Syro-phoenician woman was a very singular one, both on account of the strong faith manifested on her part, and the exercise of divine grace and power in miraculous working by Christ beyond the proper sphere of his personal ministrations. In the latter respect it stands in a sort of affinity to the cases in Old Test. history referred to by our Lord in Lu 4:26-27.
The invention of the words "Syro-Phoenicia" and "Syro-Phoenicians" seems to have been the work of the Romans, taught it is difficult to say exactly what they intended by the expressions. It has generally been supposed that they wished to distinguish the Phoenicians of Syria from those of Africa (the Carthaginians); and the term "Syrophoenix" has been regarded as the exact converse to "Libyphoenix" (Alford, ad loc.). But the Libyphsenices are not the Phoenicians of Africa generally they are a peculiar races half-African and half Phoeniciain ("mixtum Punicum Afris genaus," Livy, 21:22). The Syro-Phoenicians, therefore, should, on this analogy, be a mixed race, half Phoenicians and half Syrians. This is probably the sense of the word in the satirists Lucilius (ap. Non. Marc. De Proprietat. Serin. 4:431) and Juvenal (Sat. 8:159), who would regard a mongrel Oriental as peculiarly contemptible. In later times a geographic sense of the terms superseded the ethnic one. The emperor Hadrian divided Syria into three parts- Syria Proper, Syro-Phoenica, and Syro-Palaestina, and henceforth a Syro-Phoenician meant a native of this sub-province (Lucian, De Conc. Der. § 4), which included Phoenicia Proper, Damascus, and Palmyrene (see Rawlinson, Herod. 4:243 sq.).