27 Feb 2009

Fun Friday: Bear attax!

bear-attackToday’s Fun Friday post is inspired by none other that God’s Holy Word (The Bible,  so it claims)

Elisha was Gods Prophet…one day Elisha was walking on his way to Bethel when a group of 42 little children started making fun of him for having a bald head. How did Elisha respond? Read it for yourself:

2 Kings 2:23-24:

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.

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.

That’s right kids, God’s holy and chosen prophet decided to curse them, causing two female bears to maul them to death…sweet Jesus, no wonder I miss God so much!

No, I know this really isn’t a fun thing to think about…actually it’s quite depressing…but this is something God obviously wanted to leave into the Bible–unashamed of the actions of He and his Prophet…

Is God Love?

If so, how can you reconcile actions like this, among other things, with God being love? I think Guy Vestal wanted me to provide some sort of scriptural source for god’s own lack of mercy and benevolence…well here is just one simple verse.  Notice that this verse doesn’t say teenage boys or anything, it says LITTLE CHILDREN…

Theists:

How does this make you feel? Does this contradict your understanding of YHWH?

Non-Theists:

Got any other verses you enjoy? Did stuff like this have anything to do with your overall or eventual rejection of the Idea of YHWH or God in general?

Tags: , , , , ,
written by
Matt is a former Christian who, through facing his own doubts found a life without faith. Now atheist he dedicates his life to helping people transition through stages of belief via private counseling. Matt is currently working on his first book - Embracing Doubt, and contributing to the dialogue between atheists, Christians, and skeptics.
Related Posts

18 Responses to “Fun Friday: Bear attax!”

  1. Reply Eric Soto says:

    I think the important thing to keep in mind is the fact that a prophet…is still a man. A prophet still is capable of sin.

    I dont see in that verse where it says it was "and God says it was cool with him". Elisha may have caused it in the "Lord name" but that doesnt persay mean it has Gods approval

    Kindof like in matthew when Jesus talks about those that will come to him saying "Lord Lord, we did many works in your name…" bla bla bla but he says "depart from me…to those people".

    People can do stuff in the Lords name and not actually be the will of the Father.

    • Reply Caprise says:

      If it wasn't the will of the father, why would the father give this guy the power? Isn't God all knowing? Doesn't he know this guy is sensitive enough about his bald head to murder 42 children over it? Would you give a guy like that control over bears?

  2. Reply Thorne says:

    Uh… so, Eric. What you're saying is that when this prophet cursed the little kids, that he is the one who made the mama bear come and eat them? The passage reads to me as if the prophet calls on god to handle the kids, and then god sends mama bear in to rend and destroy.

    I mean, if Elisha had the power and did the bear calling and directing, wouldn't that make him some kind of witch or sorcerer or other self empowered types that god doesn't care for?

    It hardly matters exactly who called on mama the bears, anyway. I think our dear Rev's point is that if your holy book has indeed been assembled by your so-called loving god, then god had a reason to leave this in. What could that reason be? Love? Hmmmm. I'm not buyin' it!

  3. Reply Eric Soto says:

    You know what the funny thing is? the heart of the skeptic isnt after God

    their only after reasons to not believe/obey Him. I personaly ask myself the hard questions, but its in an attempt to understand a God i never will fully understand…not to find as many holes as i can and say "AHA I CANT BELIEVE IN THAT AND YOUR STUPID IF YOU DO!"

    its just retarded

  4. Reply TMinut says:

    I checked into this before to see if it really meant 'little' children and it does from most sources I read. Not sure just how little…

    Anyway, depending on the age of the children, if a pack of young teens was harassing and maybe assaulting an old man, why is it a problem? In America now, nothing can be done but other cultures don't necessarily allow people, even kids, to get away with being like that. Also, we don't have the whole story apparently because it doesn't make sense in english (Go up bald head? What the heck does that mean? Must be more to it).

    We have special rules about assaulting police officers now, they probably had some about God's prophets in Jewish areas, you've got to figure the boys had a clue. I would have no problem with this if the word wasn't specifically for LITTLE boys. Must be my western culture showing, I give little kids a break – I don't consider things like selling my children for debts or wait until they're three to name them to make sure they'll live before thinking of them as people. Other cultures don't feel the same way.

  5. Reply Matt Oxley says:

    @TMinut

    IT means little, i think its quite clear…wouldn't doubt the originals agreeing.

    I highly doubt it was young teens also, in Hebrew culture boys are called men soon after 12 or 13, once they had their Bar Mitzvah's and I am unconvinced that Little Children would apply to anyone that was considered a man at the time.

    so im thinking between the ages of 6 and 11 and I'm being generous here..

    if culture is the problem, remember that this is God's culture and God's barbaric people…sounds like God's standards for some is lower than for others

  6. Reply TMinut says:

    They had to be old enough to wander around in unsupervised packs for one so 6-11 isn't being generous. Besides, there are little ones who are evil; I remember hearing about the pack of third-graders who conspired to kill their teacher. And the two little boys who kidnapped, sodomized, and killed a two-year-old. I have no problem with children like that NOT growing up to adulthood. You've got to figure maybe their parents shouldn't have either – isn't that what science keeps finding now? That everything bad that people do is passed down in genes? Alcoholism – genetic; homosexuality – genetic; addictive behaviors – genetic; violence – genetic? So destroying a bloodline would make sense.

    I don't know what it has to do with lower standards, which do you mean? For the boys in the bible? For the culture now, then?

  7. Reply TheRevRuss says:

    I feel like what I'm about to type will be a waste of time because I'm almost positive it's not going to making any difference for those who don't believe in God anyway and in fact, I'll probably take additional heat. But for what it's worth, here goes:

    First, I think the age of the "youths" or boys is really irrelevant. The words translated in English (at least in the NIV) as "youth" both times is actually 2 different Hebrew words and between the two of them it could include anyone from infancy to that of "marriageable" age – so who knows, anywhere from 2 to 16 I suppose. Again, it really doesn't matter all that much what the exact age is. If your beef with God is because he took out these "boys being boys" why is that more palatable if they're older?

    Second, to say this was a sinful action of Elisha and not of God's will is really an attempt to get God off the hook. The reality is, as has been pointed out by others, God did indeed sanction this by sending the bears to maul the kids, ultimately it would be assumed to die. So ultimately, God did the killing here.

    Third, this isn't simply a case of kids "just being kids" and picking on some random crotchety old man who got ticked off and said "I'll show you, you hooligans!" These kids probably knew full well who Elisha was, namely that he was carrying on the duties of Elijah in terms of trying to call the kings to repentance for turning their backs to God. So ultimately in jeering at God's representative and calling him baldhead (impotent would be a good parallel today), they were effectively saying that God has no power The kids were effectively mocking God, hence the reason for including this account. Does that give me, a pastor, the right today to call a curse upon someone who makes fun of me knowing I'm God's "representative" or even any Christian, for that matter? No. This is a descriptive incident (describing how God chose to act in this particular scenario and context) and not prescriptive (not prescribing Christians today to take it on our own initiative to follow Elisha's example).

    Finally, this isn't so much about the story at hand itself but about the bigger picture of judgment coming on those who turn away from God. This story is a foreshadowing or typological (in addition to being real) of what would in a sense happen to those who chose to turn away from God. That is to say, it doesn't mean those who turn away from God will ultimately be mauled by bears, but there are consequences for denying the one true God and blessings for those who follow him. To limit that simply to the temporal sense misses the whole point. Those who follow God in Christ have the ultimate blessing of forgiveness and eternal life because Christ has died for our sins. Those who reject this do not have that inheritance.

    A similar example of this "typology" would be of the prophet Hosea who had a prostitute wife. He remained faithful to his wife though she went whoring after other men just as God ultimately remained faithful to the Israelites though they often strayed and went whoring after other false gods and idols.

    All that being said, I won't pretend to say I fully understand this or other similar accounts in Scripture. What I do understand is that God is a loving God, despite all the attacks to the contrary and I know this because instead of receiving the eternal punishment I deserve for my sins against a holy God I receive the blessing of forgiveness and eternal life because Christ – God in the flesh – took the punishment in my place and yours (see Romans 5:8 or John 3:16). Is there an aspect of fear in all that? Sure – a reverent respect and awe for my Father and Creator. No different than how I "feared" the punishment from my parents if I broke the rules. But just as it was with my earthly parents (and I certainly recognize this is not the case for everyone – in fact some of you reading this may have had some pretty terrible family lives growing up) ultimately it is not that fear that drives me but the peace and comfort that comes in knowing my Heavenly Father loves me so much, He's given me the 2nd chance of 2nd chances.

    Here endeth my 2 cents.

  8. Reply Hrafnkell says:

    The Hebrew Bible is full of such salutary lessons, isn't it? It's really quite frightening, the horrors unleashed in YHWH's name and on his behalf. And saying YHWH did not command the bear attack is being disingenuous. YHWH commands much worse in the Hebrew Bible. Why hesitate at bears? Entire cities are consumed, everyone, men, women, and children, killed, "dedicated" to YHWH (in other words, entire cities made a human sacrifice). I have to agree with you Thorne, and with the Rev. It's pretty horrific and no amount of fancy dancing by apologists can minimize it or argue it away. The truly frightening part for me, however, is that thousands of congregations of people listen to or read this crap every Sunday and find nothing wrong with it. They LIKE a god like this, who takes entire cities as human sacrifices and murders children for being children, but begrudge Odin a single sacrifice? The Pagans are the monsters? Really?

  9. Reply Biblical Context: God's Wrath and Anger | RagingRev says:

    [...] adhere to the rosy-loving filter. It doesn’t outright ignore them but instead of the 2 Kings bear attack looking to them like some mad tyrant God, he instead looks like he is bringing a mauling upon those [...]

  10. Reply Hercules says:

    1.First of all, they weren't "little kids"!

    "'Little children' is an unfortunate translation by the King James version. The Hebrew expression neurim qetannim is best rendered 'young lads' or 'young men.' From numerous examples where ages are specified in the Old Testament, we know that these were boys from twelve to thirty years old. One of these words described Isaac at his sacrifice in Genesis 22:12, when he was easily in his early twenties. It described Joseph in Genesis 37:2 when he was seventeen years old. In fact, the same word described army men in 1 Kings 20:14-15…these are young men ages between twelve and thirty."

    2. Bald or not bald?

    In 1 Kings 19:19, Elisha was the same age as those young adults. When he was called upon he was still living with his parents and plowing the fields with the oxen. When Elijah anointed him to be his successor, he kissed his parents goodbye. That’s pretty unusual if he was an old man that was balding. He was certainly a young adult. The epithet baldhead may allude to lepers who had to shave their heads and were considered detestable outcasts. Also in that culture, it was custom for men to covers their heads so it would be hard to tell if Elisha was bald or not. Even is Elisha was bald, there are 2 words in Hebrew that mean bald: bald in the front or bald in the back and they were using the word for bald in the back. This meant that at least 42 of them were surrounding him.

    3. The Warning: In Leviticus 26:21-22, God warned anyone that was hostile to Him, infliction would be done to them 7 times more and wild animals would take their children. So that would imply that those young adults weren't simply just teasing as you think they were but were meaning hostility towards God! There has been many accounts of prophets being ridiculed or threatened but nothing happened so it was definitely more than just poking fun of. Also, just because they were young, does NOT mean that they were innocent.

    4. Looking at 1 Kings 19, Elijah was weary, scared for his life, and so hopeless that he wanted to die because some of the evil Israelites wouldn't listen

    and were trying to kill him. So God knew it was too much for Elijah to take on so he sent him to Elisha to be his successor to fulfill the rest of the job. Now when the responsibility was shifted to Elisha, do you think that the Israelites and Baal worshippers were going to forget and just be nice and respectful to Elisha? Of course not!! If they were trying to kill Ezekiel for being a prophet then what makes you think they were going to let Elisha off the hook? History has shown that they weren’t too fond of prophets and Elisha, could've been endangered! Remember how the prophets were being treated. Prophets didn’t have an easy job to start off with as some of them were being killed off, stoned, sawed in half, (Hebrews 11: 35-40)

    3. Look at the Setting:

    The setting took place around Bethel. Bethel at that time was the most anti-Jehovah place out there was the a major Baal worship site at one point. Baal worshippers would sacrifice their own children by throwing them into the fire while having orgies. Those were detestable in God's eyes. In 1 Kings, Jeroboam attempted to make Bethel the capital of idolatry worship and blasphemed God. He even instituted an idolatrous feast in correspondence to the Feast of the Tabernacles and set up idol images. Bethel thereafter became increasingly associated with heathen worship—hence the denunciations by Amos and by Hosea, who called it "Beth-aven" [house of wickedness] So that pretty much tells you the nature of the people that lived there.

    Also, Elisha just finished performing a miracle by restoring the water supply there since the land was under an age old curse and was unproductive! Elijah was just seen being carried way from God. An awesome event took place in front of the eyes of the people, showing the Baal worshippers the true God and His powers. The insults were obviously made towards God and his prophets, not just some petty insult. Think about it: WHY WOULD SOMEONE PLACE AN INSULT OR RIDICULE SOMEONE AFTER THEY JUST WITNESS GOD'S POWER AND HAVING THEIR WATER SUPPLY FINALLY RESTORED AFTER MANY YEARS?

    In my opinion, if that event took place in front of me, I would be thankful and then convert!

    That itself only reveals 2 things:

    1. They didn't worship God nor wanted to

    2. They purposely wanted to blaspheme God.

    4. It did not say that the bears killed 42 of them, it said that the bears mauled (to injure with claws) 42 of them. What were the 42 young men doing when the bears killed 1 of them: stand in line for their turn??? The bears probably came out and started mauling a few of them while the others were mauled in the process of fighting them off. Also, it never mentioned how many were mocking Elisha, it just said that 42 were mauled after he curse them. Now keep in mind, Elisha the young prophet, was traveling by himself in a city filled ungodly men that wanted to kill his predecessor which is a scary situation to be in. Now according to that passage, if 42 were mauled, then that would mean that there were more than 42 involved in that gang.

    In conclusion, this was not just simply an account of some children hanging out and pointing out the baldness of a man in which God responded by having 2 bears kill all of them but a demonstration on judgment that happens when godless people blaspheme God and his prophets.

    Just picture yourself in that place. What would you do if there was a band of a minimum of 42 teenagers poking fun of you in a town of ungodly men that wanted to murder prophets like you and you were by yourself in the middle of the road? I wonder what you would do.

  11. Reply Jacob says:

    hey id like to talk with you about your blog. please email me – thanks.

  12. Reply What Happens When Christians “Let The Holy Spirit Illumine The Bible?” « Camels With Hammers says:

    [...] adhere to the rosy-loving filter. It doesn’t outright ignore them but instead of the 2 Kings bear attack looking to them like some mad tyrant God, he instead looks like he is bringing a mauling upon those [...]

  13. Reply Holland says:

    Id like to explain this away , but I CANT imagine teenagers going up to an old man and doing something so childish as calling him bald head. Sounds like very young small children.

  14. Reply Holland says:

    Hmmmm ? What Id would like to know was there an supernatural force that caused 42 children to get killed by bears. Logic tells me that these kids had to be in some kind of pen or cage or enclosure for 42 to get “tared”.. Didnt say killed did it ?

    Usually when a bear attacks a group and gets hold of ONE person, it doesnt take a nab at them and try to get ” points” by attacking the highest number possible. It grabs one and tears him or her to shreds while ALL the others run for safety. With the information set in front of me , this doesnt make sense. HOW does a group of 42 ALL get “tared” by only 2 bears ?

  15. Reply Ray says:

    first excellent comments by RevRuss and Hercules. second, 
    you cannot understand that God is a loving God until and unless you first understand that He is Holy and Just.
    Who would say that a judge that let guilty murderers, rapists, thieves, etc. go unpunished was a "good" and "loving" judge?

  16. Reply Carol says:

    This truly amazes me……the mental gymnastics one will go through to defend such barbaric and cruel acts that Yahweh committed in the bible. I was a Christain for 12 years until I realllly started reading and studying the bible. I would rather burn in hell than to serve such a sadistic, petty, vengeful, and cruel deity!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Reply Thinker says:

    Christians are sick immoral homophobes…and to justify bears killing anyone…what a bunch of douche bags!!!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: