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Leviticus 26:

21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.

In the curses and blessings for Israel in Leviticus 26:22, it states that wild beasts shall kill many children of the Israelites and destroy their cattle. I know this happened already but when did something like this occur in Israel, and can it be shown through scripture or other sources?

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There was a fulfilment of the threat of one of those Leviticus 26:22 plagues recorded in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings, chapter 2. It is not stated to be such in 2 Kings 2 but - with hindsight - the people who suffered this would likely have remembered the warning given to their forebears.

You ask for "when did something like this occur in Israel", so let me give you the time-line. Elijah, God's prophet, had recently died, with Elisha having been clearly shown to be God's prophet through miracles. That time would be around 850 B.C. The curses for disobedience had been pronounced by God at the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, so that would be around 1446 B.C. That gives a gap of almost 600 years.

Then comes the account of Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23:25. A gang of at least 42 youths ganged up against this solitary man on his way to Bethel. They came from the town that was the royal cult centre of the northern kings, in opposition to Elisha’s mission. Elisha and his predecessor were in the business of confronting the wickedness of the kings who had given the nation over to apostasy and idolatry. So you might view this mob as the Youth Wing of the Cult Party.

The particular phrase of abuse they hurled might have been a reference to how Elisha’s predecessor had been taken away from the scene of the earth, wishing Elisha would disappear just as suddenly, before his ministry could start. Well, God had just ordained Elisha, verifying that with signs, and those hooligans should have known that God was the power behind the ministry. They had clearly identified themselves as being on the side of idolatry and rebellion against Yahweh, so when Elisha called down an unspecified curse, the result was two bears coming out of the woods, mauling 42 of them. It doesn’t say they were all killed but to be mauled might well have resulted in death for some.

Further, when the parents of the mauled youths heard the dreadful news, they would likely remember the warning God had given in Leviticus 26:21-22 - "If you remain hostile towards me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children..." (NIV). God's warnings stand, even after 600 years.

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It may be that this intended to convey an immediate literal fulfillment as a warning, to serve as a parable for a later, more severe prophetic fulfillment. The literal fulfillment would be from actual attacks by wild animals. The prophetic meaning would be attacks by hostile empires.

  1. Civil war (northern kingdom of Israel versus Judah)
  2. Assyria
  3. Babylon
  4. Medo-Persia
  5. Hellenistic Empires (Alexander the Great, Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires)
  6. Rome
  7. Islamic Caliphates

The logic is that beasts are frequently code names for wicked empires used by God to execute judgment. Revelation 17 speaks of seven kingdoms:

They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. (Revelation 17:10)

Preceding verses in Revelation 17 make the analogy of a beast being a kingdom. The five that had already fallen are the first five on the list. The "one is" kingdom is Rome (#6), that was still in existence when John wrote. The remaining kingdom was the Islamic empires. All these empires carried off Jewish people into exile or caused refugees to flee, thus they did "rob [Israel] of [her] children".

Note that beasts 3 to 6 correspond to the beasts named in Daniel.

(The rationale for choosing the listed empires derives from work by the late Ellis Skolfield. His test for inclusion in the list was that the seven beasts all captured Jerusalem, and other proposed empires did not. One exception is Assyria, which deported Israel but merely made a vassal of Judah, which had to pay tribute. Assyria was well attested in other prophecies as fulfilling this role. Another exception is the British Empire, which qualifies as one of the wiggling toes of Rome's iron beast.)

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