I have always found it interesting that Elijah gets such a better billing than Elisha. Many Jewish Rabbis believed that Elijah was still alive and that’s why they set a place for him at the Passover meal. Since he didn’t die, it was assumed that he would return at some point. But scripturally, there is little information about Elijah. Even when John the Baptist came on the scene, the people thought he was Elijah.
I love the stories of Elisha though. He does some really cool stuff. The story of the bears mauling the boys because they were calling him baldy is one of my favorites. Back in August of 2003, I had the opportunity to teach on this passage. I have inserted a few of the points below if you have been wondering what was happening during this event.
1.Who is Elisha?
It is interesting to find that Elijah was only in his twenties, hardly old enough to be bald.
2.What are the ages of these boys?
It is interesting to see that they were not boys but young men, as the Hebrew work is translated in other places, and would be better understood as a gang…the same type we fear today. Looking at different translations will help you see this.
3.Is there any significance to their mocking?
Most translations say “Go up” because they are telling him to blast off like Elijah just did. Elisha most likely shaved his head in response to Elijah being taken. He had torn his clothes and the bible gives us many examples of head shaving as a normal response to this type of situation. The young men are teasing him about the loss of Elijah. The repetition in the passage shows how powerful this mocking was.
4.Why did Elisha turn around and look at them?
This is like a second chance; the Bible shows many of the second looks to confirm bad decisions, like when Jesus looked at Peter when Peter denied him three times.
5.Why did he curse them?
You see this all through Scripture, when someone mocks God, His word or even his messenger, God passes judgment on them.
6.What is the significance of the bears mauling the boys?
It shows how serious this offence is but it is also seen as a warning because later the whole place is destroyed. If only they would have listened.
This blog was originally written by Pastor Doug Bartel of Hillcrest Church, starting in Spring 2009. Keep that in mind if you read anything that doesn't quite add up to the time of year.