Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN 2 KINGS 2:23-25?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A very puzzling account is recorded in 2 Kings 2:23-25. It says: “[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. [25] And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.” What is going on here? Let us “search the Scriptures!”

Earlier in the chapter, Elijah the Prophet left the Promised Land… actually, planet Earth! After traveling eastward and crossing the Jordan River, exiting the land of Israel, he was taken into Heaven by a whirlwind (verse 11). Elisha, his successor, travels westward back across Jordan to re-enter the land of Israel. The Prophet Elisha makes a very important announcement in the passage currently under discussion. What follows is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

As per the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant, God would send five rounds/courses/stages of increasing and accumulative judgment/chastisement on Israel for breaking His commandments. These curses are outlined in Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28. If Israel failed to perform, she was punished, more and more and more. These were God’s attempts to reform her, get her turned around again to Him.

Read Leviticus chapter 26: “[14] But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; [15] And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: [16] I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. [17] And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.” This is the first course of judgment. Historically, it began in the Book of Judges. Throughout Judges, idolatrous Israel suffered and died under the rule of her oppressive Gentile neighbors.

Leviticus chapter 26 continues: “[18] And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. [19] And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: [20] And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” This second round of chastisement—political weakening—followed King Solomon’s death. Israel’s kingdom was divided between King Jeroboam (Israel) and King Rehoboam (Judah)—see 1 Kings chapters 11-12. The second part of the second course of judgment—droughts and famines—began under wicked King Ahab (see 1 Kings chapter 17).

Continuing in Leviticus chapter 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.” This passage sheds light on the destruction of the children who mocked the Prophet Elisha. Considering what we have just read in Scripture, we return to that enigmatic passage and expound its contents.

Second Kings 2:23-25 again: “[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. [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. [25] And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.”

As Elisha is traveling to Bethel, “little children” from the city come and mock him by chanting, “Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.” It is important to note that these “little children” are not as young as we might think. They are unbelievers, people who have made a conscious decision to tease God’s spokesman. In fact, they could have been as much as 15 to 30 years old. They were young adults. Verse 24 says there were more than 42, all of whom were scoffing at Elisha!

They addressed Elisha as “bald head… bald head.” Perhaps he suffered from natural hair loss. Maybe it was a deliberate shaving of the head to identify his role as a prophet. Whatever the reason for the baldness, the key word is “mocked:” “…mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.” This was more disrespectful than factual. It was disparaging. As others have rightly pointed out, these children were repeating what their parents told them. There was much unbelief in Israel, to the point that parents have caused their children to disrespect God’s prophets. They have no shame in mistreating God’s representative!

It is also noteworthy that those young adults tell Elisha “go up… go up.” You will recall our earlier comments about the chapter’s previous verses. Elijah the Prophet has just ascended—“went up”—to Heaven. Notice verse 11: “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” By chanting “go up… go up,” these young adults mock both Elijah and Elisha (two prophets, the latter taking the place of the former). They wanted Elisha to leave them, too!

The Bible says of Elisha: “[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. [25] And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.” Elisha “cursed them in the name of the LORD.” Rather than a reference to obscene language, expletives, Elisha quoted the Law of Moses. He recited God’s Word to announce the third course of chastisement coming on Israel.

Leviticus chapter 26 again: “[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 that third course, JEHOVAH God, Ruler of all creation, would send “wild beasts” to attack and eat the children of Israel. Elisha quoted that to those satanic children. What immediately happened? Wild beasts—two female bears—immediately came out of the forest and ripped up 42 of those children insulting him!

The third course of judgment thus began!

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» Is God chastening me?
» Must I maintain fellowship with God?

One response to “Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

  1. Pingback: Light Bulbs and Lenses #2 – 333 Words of Grace

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