2 Kings 2:23-24 (KJV)
23 And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

What do these verses mean? What was the purpose of this? The only reason I can think of is to teach the severity of mocking God's anointed.

  • 2
    Is there a problem with bears having access to fresh food? – KorvinStarmast Nov 20 '18 at 22:48
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    @KorvinStarmast bro. you owe me a tissue for my tears of laughter. lol – Jeremy H Apr 1 '19 at 14:36
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    @KorvinStarmast nearly 5 years ago.... I was 15 lol. "Why so serious?" - HL – Jeremy H Apr 1 '19 at 14:36
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    Glad to bring some levity to the topic. :) – KorvinStarmast Apr 1 '19 at 14:41

First, the term "children" is a poor translation in the KJV. It's better rendered "youths" (as in the NKJV), which really changes the meaning of the story.

Imagine being accosted by more than 40 teens at once, intent on making trouble for you, outside of town. This was no simple mocking; Elisha's life could very well have been in danger, and there's no indication that he was a warrior. So instead, he followed his Master's example. If they were taunting him and telling him to "go up" (ascend to heaven as Elijah had,) then he would have the Lord fight for him, as Elijah had in his confrontation with the priests of Baal.


It would be impossible to actually know if there was anything more than taunts Elisha was subjected to by these youths because the Bible does not provide such clarity so to speculate would not be beneficial to us.

My father had a bald head. When I was a youth, I witnessed many times when other youth my age taunted my father with "baldy bean", "Mr. Clean", "Kojack head". When I'd asked my father how he felt about that, he told me that he could take offence and seek retribution, but rather he would just ignore such taunts as silly things youths do.

The Bible does not indicate at all that Elisha's life was in jeopardy by these youths as the previous answer speculates. It does reflect however an example of one of those stories in the Bible that is very disturbing and difficult for a reader to reconcile with a God who is love.

That is, it appears from simply reading this story as it is presented that the attack of the youths by the two bears was a direct result of the Elijah's curse "in the name of the LORD". Is this attack on the youths as an apparent punishment for taunting the prophet equal to the insults they directed at Elisha? Does the crime fit the punishment so to speak.

Yes, God is love, but He is just also a Just God I hear it being said. What justice is apparent here? In the previous answer, "mocking God's anointed" (the crime) deserves death and/or being mauled by wild ferocious animals (justice). Really, there is no justification for Elisha's curse and the apparent result.

If my father cursed in the name of the LORD those youth who taunted him, then immediately some horrible calamity befell them, I would no doubt be afraid of the LORD my father believed in. I would also be appalled at my father for cursing the youth in the name of the LORD, and I would be appalled at the LORD for apparently sending wild animals to kill/maim the youths for something as silly as name-calling.

Instead of retribution, my father would put his hand on his head and shine it laughing with the youth. This is the father I respect and love, representing the kind of God I respect and love. Why couldn't Elisha just shine his head and laugh with them?

This is one of those stories in the Bible that cannot be reconciled with idea that the LORD is a God of love and that He is just no matter how much imagination/speculation/interpretation we embrace in an attempt to do so. In my prayers to Him, I say so. I say to Him, I don't agree with this outcome. I still love Him, I still believe in Him. I just don't agree with Him in this case.

I am a Bible-believing Christian, but just because I believe in the Bible does not mean I agree with everything in it. This is one of the stories I believe happened as the Bible says, but don't agree with what happened particularly to those youths.

I don't think God is threatened when we don't agree with Him. Very often with our mouths we say we agree giving the pious appearance that events like these in the Bible are okay. But in our hearts we really don't agree and secretly grieve at such outcomes that these youths experienced. We just don't SAY we disagree, but keep it to ourselves for fear that we would be seen as unbelieving resulting in being punished.

Just a thought...

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