2 Kings 2:23: And he 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.
2 Kings 2:24: 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.
This episode on the prophet Elisha cursing the forty-two children contributing to their eventual death is a subject of much controversy in the Bible. Moreover, these victims were not just children but little children as recorded in the Bible. Just because these little children mocked him and he reacted in such a harsh manner is a little too much to stomach for our modern day society.
So Bible critics and God haters have a field day mocking God and the Christian faith for this piece of history concerning prophet Elisha. Hence they conclude the God of love in the Bible in fact is a cruel God not deserving our worship and adoration.
Christians also seek to explain away clumsily concerning these children who may not be little children with the help of the modern perverse bibles.
New International Version
23 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!” 24 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.
New American Standard Bible
23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number.
International Standard Version
23 Later, Elisha[y] left there to go up to Bethel, and as he was traveling along the road, some insignificant young men came from the city and started mocking him. They told him, “Get on up, baldy! Get on up, baldy!” 24 He looked behind him, took note of the young men, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Suddenly two female bears emerged from the woods and mauled 42 of the young men.
New King James Version
23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”24 So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.
Those little children from the passage in the King James Bible are conspicuously missing in the modern perversions of the Scriptures. Even the New King James Version changed little children into youths.
The little children have been replaced with older kids so that this might some how make them more culpable and accountable for their offence. Perhaps this should make the death of these young mockers more palatable to the modern crowd of Bible critics and God haters.
This is clearly a clumsy way of justifying prophet Elisha’s curse. How then should Bible believers respond to such false charges?
Everyone seems to focus the attention on the little children as victims and no one cares about the nature of the offence. So what if someone mocks a person for being bald? Is he so thin skin and has to get himself into a murderous rage?
Today bald men could seek treatment to manage this unhappy and socially awkward condition even though it does pinch on the wallet significantly. So there is no just cause to cause the death of those poor little children. The fault lies with prophet Elisha and not those little children who mocked him. This is the humanistic way of approaching the Holy Bible.
However, what modern people view as bald has a very different meaning altogether during the times in the Old Testament for the children of Israel. Being bald and making oneself bald is a sign of God’s curse and judgment as well as death and mourning. It is no laughing matter.
Jeremiah 16:5: For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.
Jeremiah 16:6: Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:
Jeremiah 16:7: Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.
Ezekiel 27:30: And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes:
Ezekiel 27:31: And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing.
In addition, shaving bald is connected with contracting leprosy, a form of judgment from God.
Leviticus 14:8: And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days.
Leviticus 14:9: But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean.
Moreover, the priests are not allowed to shave their head bald.
Leviticus 21:5: They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
Even in the New Testament, shaving of heads is part of the cleansing rituals where the apostle Paul participated as well.
Acts 21:24: Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
So mocking someone concerning his bald head is not funny at all. Such accusatory remarks suggesting the person to be unclean is insulting to say the least. What more Elisha the prophet who was greatly used by the Lord during his time!
Since these little children mocked the prophet whether intentionally or not alluding to God’s judgment and mourning for him, they got what they asked for even without knowing the significance of a bald head.
Even though balding is natural and common, the meaning behind and the mockery with regards to balding cannot be understated. Their parents had failed them if these children were ignorant of this fact!
Is Elisha a child hater? Far from it!
When the elderly couple who did him good, he repaid them by praying for them to have a child. Subsequently, the child died. He did his best and restored the child back to life to the mother.
2 Kings 4:30: And the mother of the child said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her.
2 Kings 4:31: And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.
2 Kings 4:32: And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
2 Kings 4:33: He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.
2 Kings 4:34: And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
2 Kings 4:35: Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
2 Kings 4:36: And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son.
Clearly to condemn prophet Elisha for being harsh and cruel is unwarranted. At first glance, those little children may seem to have innocently and playfully mocked Elisha.
Unfortunately, Elisha was no ordinary man on earth. He was God’s prophet and God looked upon such mockery on sin with impending judgment and will not let it pass because God has expressly forbidden anyone from doing His prophets any harm. They were kids when they mocked God’s prophet, imagine what they might do when they grew up!
1 Chronicles 16:22: Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
Psalms 105:15: Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
Those little children dying prematurely may be tragic but they were not alone. God from time to time terminated lives of little children when the situation warranted such a call.
King David who committed adultery had his little child taken away from him.
2 Samuel 12:13: And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
2 Samuel 12:14: Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
2 Samuel 12:15: And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
2 Samuel 12:16: David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
It was king David who had sinned and what had this poor child done?
Nothing! Just that he should not be allowed to live because this child would grow up to bear his father’s reproach and become a constant snarl and mockery to everyone reminding them of king David’s sin.
Will he be acceptable to the rest of the king’s sons, his brethren? Definitely not.
Even one of the sons of Jacob had trouble being accepted by his brethren and Moses before he died prayed for him.
Deuteronomy 33:24: And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
What did Asher do to cause such misgivings with the rest of the brethren? Just because he was the youngest son of Zilpah, Leah’s maid and hence lower status with the rest of the brethren? Or was it because Leah named him Asher which means happy and this caused resentment?
Imagine the trouble the son of king David born out of adultery was allowed to live and grow up. The troubles he had to deal with would be so horrible and immense beyond imagination.
So God’s termination of his young life was an act of mercy even though it was a judgment upon king David causing him pains and grief. But king David’s attitude was one of optimistic and prayerful worship trusting God’s plan on this matter. He was looking forward to meeting this young child in the life after and it was not a hopeless eternal separation.
2 Samuel 12:22: And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
2 Samuel 12:23: But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
Another young child taken away was the son of the wicked king Jeroboam who caused Israel to sin. The Lord allowed this child to die and be buried because he was the only one God found good in him from Jeroboam’s lineage. The rest of them were allowed to live and grow up to face condemnation and judgment.
1 Kings 14:13: And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.
Children are not always innocent. They can be little rascals and devils who will misbehave badly if they don’t get their ways. They can be up to no good and a pain to deal with as Job had found and complained during his trials and tribulation.
Job 19:18: Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.
This sounds very much like the mocking Elisha received at the hands of those little children.
Even the Lord got so upset with the nation of Israel, including their children.
Isaiah 30:9: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
Looking at the tragic death of little children and accusing the God of the Holy Bible as an unjust and cruel tyrant is completely wrong. Those little children Elisha cursed and died were not entirely innocent.
Little children are capable of mischief. The recent death of a two-year old girl was partly caused by two very young children playing a prank on the toddler.
It is painful and heartbreaking to watch the CCTV of these little children and the innocent toddler before her demise. Her death was tragic and a serious reminder to parents to watch over their children and teach them because of inherent folly in children.
Proverb:22:15: Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverb 23:13: Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
Proverb 23:14: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
Those who refuse to take on their parental responsibility seriously are actual hater of their own children and such parental neglect could cause the death of their children.
Proverb 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
While folly is found in children because they lack understanding, they also bear no malice.
1 Corinthians 14:20: Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
As such, as far as accountability is concerned, they are not liable for their folly as everyone is born dead in trespasses and sins.
Romans 5:13: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Romans 4:8: Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Those who think they have finally found a passage in the Bible that gives them an excuse to reject God’s Son for their salvation, they are indeed ignorant and their compassion misplaced. These liberal minded God haters will have no qualms murdering unborn children and yet they wish to appear compassionate and concern about the welfare of little children. Hypocrisy is fine art to these hypocrites and Bible critics.
Why they will not give God the benefit of the doubt when they cannot understand the Scriptures? Because they have no light in them.
Foolish Christians are also ignorant of the Scriptures when they do not study the Holy Bible diligently. They take a humanistic approach and think they can help God out by changing the Scriptures to suit the narratives of the unsaved bleeding heart liberals hell-bound in finding excuses to reject the Bible and the all merciful God who offers them salvation in Christ.
So what happened to those forty-two little children who perished after mocking prophet Elisha? Can’t this be another act of God’s mercy to prevent them from eternal burning should they be allowed to grow up? If they deserved eternal damnation, God is of course just to mete out accordingly.
So far from Scriptures, God has mercifully terminated the lives of little ones from growing up to face eternal damnation. Those little children who are innocent where God will not impute sin will have a future in the life after, albeit ignorantly get into trouble in a moment of folly.
Yonder years ago Abraham asked God who was about to destroy those reprobate wicked sinners in Sodom and Gomorrah whether as a Judge of all the earth He would do right.
Genesis 18:25: That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
The destruction of the two cities was history. All those little ones and little children were burnt to ashes together with those sinners worthy of death. Will they be held accountable with those hell-bound sinners? Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?
You bet He would. He would do right for those little children who died with those sinners in Sodom and Gomorrah as well as the forty-two children who were torn by the bears during that sorry episode of folly.
Trying to put on a credible defence of the Bible on this event using the ways of the world will do no good. The enemies of the Lord are humanist at heart and Christians would do well to avoid them. Give God the benefit of the doubt that the God of the Bible will not be unjust. Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ loves little children.
Matthew 19:14: But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:14: But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:16: But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
No child in this world is neglected from above even though parents may be guilty of neglect in raising their child in this world.
Matthew 18:10: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Psalms 103:17: But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;