2nd Kings 2: 23-25 - I keep reading this and it seems VERY harsh… this cannot be all that is here at face value. I would appreciate anyone who knows the backstory here. How old is a “young lad” and 42 of their number are mauled so we’re talking a very large group so it would seem that there are deeper stirrings?
Sticks and Stones may break my bones but the wrong words to Elisha could have young lads mauled by bears?
Good question, it appears as though this wasn’t just kids, but rather young men maybe in their late teens to twenties, who were organized into a malicious mob, and were wanting Elisha dead (go up perhaps being in reference to how Elijah was taken to heaven, and bald head being a fairly significant cultural insult)
What are your thoughts on this possible scenario: 42 20 something year olds onto one prophet…
@scottbeau Bethel was the center of Baal worship and idolatry and Elisha represented the true God. So just as we discussed recently in 1 Kings, there was some serious opposition between the prophets of Baal and the prophets of the true God. As depicted in the ‘Action Bible’, it is likely this was a mob of young men (not kids) who may have even had violent intent against Elisha.
Picture from the ‘Action Bible’:
"As Elisha was traveling from Jericho to Bethel several dozen youths (young men, not children) confronted him. Perhaps they were young false prophets of Baal. Their jeering, recorded in the slang of their day, implied that if Elisha were a great prophet of the Lord, as Elijah was, he should go on up into heaven as Elijah reportedly had done. The epithet baldhead may allude to lepers who had to shave their heads and were considered detestable outcasts. Or it may simply have been a form of scorn, for baldness was undesirable (cf. Isa. 3:17, 24). Since it was customary for men to cover their heads, the young men probably could not tell if Elisha was bald or not . They regarded God’s prophet with contempt…Elisha then called down a curse on the villains. This cursing stemmed not from Elisha pride but from their disrespect for the Lord as reflected in their treatment of His spokesman (cf. 1:9-14). Again God used wild animals to execute His judgment (cf., e.g., 1 Kings 13:24). That 42 men were mauled by the two bears suggests that a mass demonstration had been organized against God and Elisha. " [Bible Knowledge Commentary]
Hey there! I know this is a symbolic interpretation, but it has helped me in the past so I hope it can do the same for you. It took that ‘sting’ or ‘shock’ factor away, leaving me thinking clearly. Which I believe may be helpful.
Also @SeanO your reply was helpful for me. Answered some of my thoughts I still had.