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WVW: A Beary Bald Prophet (Part Two: Nick's Take) - 2 Kings 2:23-24

Before clarifying and diving into this weird part of scripture, a series of questions need to be asked before an answer can be determined; in fact, the following questions should be asked before reading any book of the Bible in order to understand its context:


What is the setting?


What type of people is the author writing about?


What is the setting?

First off, the setting in this text is extremely important. In the patriarchal period, Abraham had set up an altar and dwelt in Bethel, and its name even means House of God. However, at this time, Bethel was the place of one of King Jeroboam's two golden calves that the northern kingdom worshiped instead of Yahweh. It was the seat of idolatry for the kingdom of Israel. Knowing the evil setting sets the stage for an accurate interpretation of the text.


What type of people is the author writing about?

The “small boys” are up for debate in this text. Some words get lost in translation and in this case, are most likely not little children or small boys, but youth - teens to early twenties. We can safely come to this conclusion because the same term is used of Solomon in 1 Kings 3:7 and he was not a little boy (I can give many other examples). The young men had been reared in idolatry and taught to hate Elijah because of the famine and the killing of Jezebel's prophets. Elisha is Elijah's protégé. Therefore, they were trained to reject and disrespect the prophets of the true Yahweh. As young people do, they were disrespecting their elders and, in this case, the prophet of God. In my mind, the reality that they were not small boys changes everything. In our society, 21-year old men can buy cigarettes and liquor and are completely held accountable for their actions. Yet, in this text, we quickly think it seems unfair for God and Elisha to hold them accountable for their actions.


Regardless of their age, this is not a traditional visual of a bully making fun of another person in the ways we are used to. In our society, we say no to cyber bullying, some people encourage their kids to fight back in many cases, and we rightfully empower women. In the case of our beloved prophet, we say it is overreacting when a crowd of men, whom openly reject and were trained to fight against God’s people, bully him, and in retort he curses them. In fact, lets talk about the number of men for a minute.


The text says 42 of them were mauled but it does not say how many men were exactly there. It could possibly be more but just 42 of them were mauled. In any case, lets assume there were just 42 men and 1 Elisha.


Imagine 42 men making fun of you. 42









If Elisha was being bullied by 1 or 2 guys, I would be like yo, man up.











Let’s be real for a minute. How many times have we crossed the street or walked the opposite way when we see a crowd of 10 or more men walking down the same block? Isn’t it intimidating? (Ryan will probably say he’s never done that cuz he’s Superman). We can safely come to an in-context realization that 42 men making fun of Elisha’s baldness is next level intimidation. It’s beyond mockery. It’s a straight up mob. It’s beyond Ryan’s wife making fun of his runways (which I don’t think are that bad myself- I got your back bruh). There are some commentators that claim Elisha wasn’t even bald and that calling him bald was a sign of disrespect and labeling him equal with a leper. I most definitely think that’s a cop out. Unfortunately, it seems as if Elisha was balding at a young age and desperately needed some Rogaine which was invented a good 2500 years later.


Either way, I think Ryan’s explanation focuses so much on the baldness that it loses site of what’s actually happening in the text.


There’s a mob making fun of Elisha that have more than one agenda:


1. Make Elisha feel like an insecure bald human with no authority over them (which means God’s authority meant nothing to them either since he was obviously God sent and they knew it).


2. I believe in any given situation, there is power in numbers. With the amount of men causing trouble in the text, It is obvious they wanted to delay Elisha and they had no regard to his important path to bringing true teaching to a people that desperately needed it.


3. These people were taught and trained to reject God at all costs. What do you think they were doing here? A large crowd of 50 people is never formed accidentally unless you are in Times Square waiting for a subway. From the numbers involved, it seems to be an organized display of rebellion against Elisha and everything he represents.


If I haven’t given real world examples as to why I believe Elisha was justified, let’s examine the common sins of Israel; In 2 Chronicles 36:16, we see that it was very common for them to mock the passengers of the Lord. This gives us some type of clarity that it wasn’t their first offense of this nature. Maybe if it was there first time, we could have said Elisha was unjust and responded out of pride; however, I believe in this case, the curse was used to send a message and teach a lesson-


1. Don't think you can stay in habitual sin without severe consequences and

2. We should always have respect for God and His purpose.


In conclusion, I can respect Ryan’s belief that people of the Bible are purposely presented in imperfect ways in order for us to always look to God as our perfect Creator, Healer, Father, Savior, etc., however, in 2 Kings 2: 23-24, God’s chosen prophet was justified and his actions were confirmed and allowed by God.


Ding on!


-Nick