Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

2 Kings 2:23-24

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

Not that I would consider doing so... except for that guy who cut me off this morning on the freeway. :) This just comes across as against Christianity as I know it.

share|improve this question

put on hold as off-topic by David Stratton Jul 22 at 0:54

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "General philosophical or sociological questions are off-topic unless clearly asking for a doctrinal answer. See: On-topic and constructive examples." – David Stratton
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
well if they cut you off it is probably ok... –  Greg McNulty Mar 22 '12 at 17:53
    
Or, apparently, if there are bears around. –  Affable Geek Mar 23 '12 at 3:00
    
What if they post something on christianity.stackexchange.com that I don't agree with? –  user1054 Jun 12 '12 at 19:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

David in Psalm 139:21-22 states:

"Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies."

It is important to remember here that God had set aside a nation for himself and at this time the enemies of David the King of Israel were also the enemies of God.

Today we have a King who is greater than David, King Jesus. His kingdom is "Not from this world". Paul also notes that:

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12)

More specifically the prophets of God, like Elisha, were His messengers and called to a purpose that men no longer have given the Word of God is complete in the Scriptures.

I believe that this means that we no longer have a calling to curse anyone but instead to fight against spiritual wickedness. We do this by wrestling in prayer and by using the Word of God to tear down the enemies strongholds.

share|improve this answer

First off, "boys" is a very unfortunate translation here, as the original word properly means "youths" (teens/young men, not children.) And a group of over 40 youths coming out to confront a single man with angry words is a lot more than simple "jeering". Imagine the scene! His life was most likely in danger. (Remember when Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away because Ishmael was endangering young Isaac with his "teasing"? The ancient Hebrews seem to have had quite the gift for understatement in these matters!)

Also, this wasn't just any man they were harassing. This incident came right after Elisha witnessed Elijah's ascendance into heaven, when Elisha was granted an official status as the spiritual heir to Elijah. In other words, he was the new prophet of God, as Elijah had been. To harass him was to reject his authority as the emissary of God to Israel, and that is where Elisha is different from us. He was a prophet of God, and he had the authority to call upon the powers of heaven in order to protect himself, as Elijah did.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for the good answer and great hermeneutics! So, when is it okay to curse someone in the name of the Lord? When your life is in danger and after witnessing a miracle? –  user1054 Mar 22 '12 at 20:30
3  
@Dan: I'd say more like, "after having been called of God and receiving the authority to do so, when and if the need arises." (Not something that's likely to happen to most of us.) Bear in mind that falsely claiming to speak or act in God's name is expressly prohibited by the 3rd of the Ten Commandments, so in general, we should stick to the rules that have been given to Christians in general: "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay." "I say unto you, Swear not at all... but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." –  Mason Wheeler Mar 22 '12 at 20:39
    
I'm not sure that God told Elisha that he had the power to do so, if he did it wasn't recorded. However, I do believe you're correct. –  user1054 Mar 22 '12 at 20:45

I had to consider how to answer an atheist (on Twitter, no less) who used this passage as "proof" that if God does exist, He is a cruel and petty one. At least here I'm not limited to 140 characters! The hermeneutics of this passage have been well covered by others. During the reign of Ahab, not too long before this, Jezebel killed every prophet of the Lord she could get her hands on, and we can assume there was probably still significant persecution of the faithful minority. Bethel was home to one of the 2 golden calves that Jeroboam made to entice the people of Israel into idolatry and away from the Lord, so it is not surprising that we see Ejisha being ridiculed here by a gang of youths. My college OT professor told us that this carried the connotation of calling him an "emptyhead." Now look at 2 Kg. 1:9-15, where King Ahaziah sends soldiers to demand that Elijah come to him, and Elijah calls down fire from heaven and turns 2 bands of 50 into crispy bits. When the captain of the third band humbles himself and begs for his men's lives, God spares them. I see these passages as representing what is soon to befall Israel as a whole: those who reject God will be punished, but mercy will be given to those who humble themselves. These prophets were acting in the authority of God, proclaiming His message.

Now as to whether we have the authority to do this, look at Luke 9:51-56. A Samaritan village rejects Jesus because He was going to Jerusalem, and James and John ask Him if they should call down fire on them, as Elijah did. Jesus rebukes them and says "The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." So we do not have the authority to curse anyone in the name of the Lord.

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to Christianity.SE! This is a fine answer, and I especially like your Luke example. Good to have you here! :) –  El'endia Starman Mar 29 '12 at 18:59
    
@Robert Kornman +1 for a great answer. There are some concerns with Matthew 10:34-36 NIV: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[a] –  user1054 Mar 30 '12 at 12:44
    
Thank you both for your comments! @Dan Andrews, Paul said "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Rom. 12:18) There will always be enmity between God's people and those of the world (see Gen. 3:15), but that comes about as a result of their rejection of Christ, and we need to pursue a path of reconciliation if we can. Paul actually said of anyone who preached a false gospel, "Let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9), but I think that comes from God, and it is not our place to pronounce a curse on them (if the Apostles couldn't, how can we?) –  Robert Kornman Mar 30 '12 at 13:30

I met a person who is evil to the core and the holy ghost spoke to me and told me to curse them. (That the next time they commit an evil act against a child that they will be cursed) I cant say what the curse is. Mark 11: 13-14 Jesus curses a fig tree, Galatians 3:10-14 for living by the law and not by faith you are cursed, (Romans 13 the bible does say follow the law of your land unless it is against God's word.) 2 kings 2:24 Elisha curses Lads who mocked him and 1 kings 17:1 Elijah curses Ahab.

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This is kind of an answer. You reference some relevant scripture but make no developments on what that means for this topic. Can you edit more into this, please? –  fredsbend Jul 21 at 19:27