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Featured Elisha, two bears, and 42 massacred children.

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by Xavier Graham, Jun 24, 2022.

  1. Xavier Graham

    Xavier Graham Your local anarchist. God is Love is Love is Love

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    2 Kings 2:23-25 is often cited by non Bible believers as evidence of God’s lack of benevolence. I’m not a Christian anymore, but I wanted to delve into this incident in the Bible a bit. Talk about the literary theme.
    Elisha just witnessed Elijah ascend to the sky. He was returning from that incident. During that incident, he inherited great prophetic and godly power. As he was headed to bethel, some boys went up to him and made fun of him for being bald. Elisha cursed them, and 2 bears mauled 42 boys. Harsh!
    let’s talk about it.
    Suppose this really happened. I imagine that this incident is not an example of God’s harshness or ferocity. Well, it is, but perhaps that isn’t what is meant to be highlighted here. Elisha was probably in a bad state of mind, clouded let’s say. He just inherited crazy power, but he watched his teacher ascend! A whirlpool of emotions he must’ve had. I think the bear massacre was a learning experience for Elisha. He didn’t appreciate the power he had. His predecessor called fire out of the sky to engulf bands of soldiers! And he inherited twice that power! Do you think Elisha wanted those 42 boys to die? He was probably heart stricken from Elijah’s parting, and cursed those boys out of emotion. Then he saw the result. Do you suppose he felt good about that? I don’t. I suppose he was traumatized by that incident. Look at the character development of Elisha from that point on, there isn’t any similar incidents I think.
    Anywho, I think that specific passage of the Bible is often viewed as only an example of gods violence. I think it’s deeper than that. I think it’s about the responsibility one has when they try to serve god, and the power it comes with.
     
    #1 Xavier Graham, Jun 24, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
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  2. rocala

    rocala Active Member

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    An interesting post, thank you. This is one of the more disturbing parts of the bible, so much so that I feel sure there must be some other, deeper meaning. But what, I cannot say.
     
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  3. KenS

    KenS Face to face with my Father
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    What is the other viewpoint to this event?
     
  4. Xavier Graham

    Xavier Graham Your local anarchist. God is Love is Love is Love

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    I’ve just see people point to this event and say “See, God isn’t moral!” I mean, it makes sense why they’re saying it. The OP intends to offer an alternative viewpoint.
     
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  5. KenS

    KenS Face to face with my Father
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    Another thought.

    there came forth little children out of the city;
    the word for "children" is used of persons of thirty or forty years of age; and though these are said to be "little", they were so well grown as to be able to go forth out of the city of themselves, without any to guide them, or to take care of them; and were of an age capable not only of taking notice of Elijah's baldness, but knew him to be a prophet, and were able to distinguish between good and evil; and, from a malignant spirit in them, mocked at him as such, and at the assumption of Elijah; which they had knowledge of, and to whom, taught by their idolatrous parents, they had an aversion: some Jewish writers F24 say, they were called "Naarim", which we render "children", because shaken from the commandments, or had shaken off the yoke of the commands; and "little", because they were of little faith: (john Gill)
    F24 T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 46. 2.
     
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  6. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
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    Ok, so poor Elisha had a bad day, and basically shot up a movie theater packed with children (or adults if you prefer) with his machine gun. You gotta give the guy a break. :shrug:

    Of course, I suppose that would still leave God on the hook in some sense for that not taking away Elisha's guns and put him in prison for mass murder after that? Kind of like a pardon from a corrupted President for the unrepentant because they were friends on the golf course? Point is, where is the condemnation for murder here?
     
    #6 Windwalker, Jun 24, 2022
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  7. Truth in love

    Truth in love Well-Known Member

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    Its worth noting that the word for Children there also translates to youth AKA punk teenagers who were telling the prophet to go and die. I don't think he was all that bothered about being bald.
     
  8. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    That like so many events in the Bible it never happened. The God of the Old Testament was not nearly as evil as he was portrayed to be.
     
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  9. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
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    So slaughtering punk teenagers is Okay with God?
     
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  10. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Hmm, are you trying to appeal to my "Get off my lawn!!!:mad::mad:" nature? On some days it just might work.
     
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  11. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    If there's 42 of them surrounding you and presumably about to kill you because you worship God and not their idols? Yes. They were telling him to "go up" to the high places of one of their gods and offer sacrifice. I'd like to see what conclusions you would make upon being surrounded by 40-something hostile grown men.
     
  12. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Well that is quite the translation. Many of them say that they were "little children" or "little boys". How do you go from that to "40 something hostile grown men"? And then you have your added interpretation of him offering himself to the gods in sacrifice. Most modern versions merely interpret "go up" as "go away". Do you have a preferred interpretation?

    2 Kings 2:23 From there, Elisha went up to Bethel, and as he was walking up the road, a group of boys came out of the city and jeered at him, chanting, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!"
     
  13. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

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    Strikes me like a Kung Fu movie: Two (2) bears maul 42 men? Really? Did they stand around waiting their turn to die?
     
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  14. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
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    How unlike Jesus, this image of God is.
     
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  15. Windwalker

    Windwalker Veteran Member
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    That's quite true. Either that or they were super ninja bears, where all you could see is a blurry flash and blood splattering everywhere? It was all over in a matter of seconds, with 42 kids slaughtered by 2 ninja bears.

    Elisha! Ninja Bear Master
    . (Roll credits). :)
     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Why? To quote Robert Alter:

    The early rabbis were so outraged by this story that they felt constrained to assert it never really happened. Their formulation, "neither bears nor forest," became idiomatic in Hebrew for a cock-and-bull story."​

    But inviting "God is a meanie" posts is always so much more enlightening.
     
  17. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Because the word translated there as "children" can mean not just a boy, but also a young man, or a servant, or even a royal official. Such as in 2 Samuel 16:1-4, where Ziba is described as a servant (root word na'ar) of Mephibosheth and also in charge. This na'ar also is established to have already had 15 sons earlier in the text (see 2 Samuel 9:10). Last I checked, your average little kid didn't have 15 sons. Na'arim are also described in the Bible as fighting in skirmishes. AKA, fighting-age men.

    Now, how do you figure that a whole gaggle of children wandered outside a city and were on the road, where there are often robbers, bandits, murderers? Even with the description "little", that doesn't imply that they were necessarily children. Far more likely than a bunch of children somehow walking out of a city unnoticed and unaccompanied is that these were servants or officials. These servants or officials could have been either young (the usual meaning of the adjective in question), or lesser officials (this adjective is used to describe the moon as the lesser light in contrast to the greater light, the sun, and is also used in Jeremiah 42:8 to describe how the least and the greatest alike will know God).

    Bethel is described earlier in the text as having had a temple set up on one of the high places, built by King Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12:28-33. Additionally, Elijah was hunted on a semi-regular basis by the kings of Israel for not worshipping their gods and actively prophesying and fighting against those who worshipped Ba'al and Asherah and the other Canaanite gods, and Elisha as his successor had just as big a target on his back. The previous king's wife (Jezebel) had tried to have Elijah murdered. Priests of YHWH had been slaughtered by Ahab's forces in the hundreds before (1 Kings 18:1-18).

    Additionally, the Hebrew verb translated here as "to go up" can be used, not just for ascending in a fiery chariot, but also for going up to a high place, as in Isaiah 15:2, or even just in the first part of 2 Kings 2:23, when Elisha was going up to Bethel. i.e. going up a hill, or to a city of higher altitude (i.e. Joshua 15:3, Joshua 16:1, Judges 1:22. Judges 14:2, and even in 2 Kings 1:3, 1 Kings 22:12, I could go on).

    So yes, contextually, it is far, far more likely that it was a bunch of servants or low-ranking city officials who came out to Elisha and were trying to compel him to go to the temple at Bethel to offer sacrifices to Ba'al and therefore make him comply with the state religion. This not only is perfectly in line with the text, but also makes the most sense of all that had happened so far in the book (1 Kings and 2 Kings were originally one book and only got split into 2 in the West because Greek takes up a lot more ink than Hebrew).
     
  18. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Wow! Where did you grow up? The roads are not like that now and were likely not like that then.

    Your translation is quite the stretch and you have not justified it one iota.
     
  19. Eli G

    Eli G Member

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    Some things to clarify here:

    1) God has more right to condemn and execute to death than any human court. PERIOD. Try not to bother Him too much.

    2) Have you ever seen 42 kids get together and start harassing a religious person? NO; they were youngsters who seem like they were used to snogging and disrespecting decent people... but they messed with the wrong person.

    3) Elisha invoked evil against those young men, but he did not call the two female bears. The scandal of the young people attracted them. Do you know how upset two bears with cubs are when they think someone is endangering their cubs? Google on that and you will see. Better do not disturb the bears with cubs.

    4) Being cursed for their misconduct, God did not protect the bullies. He abandoned them to their fate, and they paid dearly for their contempt for Jehovah's prophet.

    Did you know that Jehovah is going to destroy many people soon and eliminate them from the planet? He has to do it so that good people don't suffer more because of the actions of those others.

    Psal. 37:10 Just a little while longer, and the wicked will be no more; You will look at where they were, And they will not be there. 11 But the meek will possess the earth, And they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.
     
  20. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Okay, please demonstrate that bears are attracted to "scandals".

    It is rather sad when someone believes in an evil God and tries to defend that evil God.
     
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