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2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2:2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
2:3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
2:4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
2:5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
2:6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
2:7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
2:10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
2:11 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.
2:12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
2:13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 2:14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
2:16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.
2:17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
2:18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? 2:19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
2:20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
2:21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
2:22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
2:23 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.
2:24 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.
2:25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.


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Everything King James Bible:2 Kings

2 Kings 2:24 is a passage I pointed out to my girlfriend in February, 2001. She consideres herself a very devout believer of the bible, and interprets everything literally as it is written. This passage nearly caused her to break up with me as it frustrated her so.

Moments like that moved me to write: Why I Need to Leave.

What possible interpretations are there of this passage? well, I e-mailed this to her later:

This is what I was able to work up:
   
2 Kings 2:
   
23: And he goeth up thence to Beth-El, and he is going up in the way,
    and little youths have come out from the city, and scoff at him,
    and say to him, 'Go up, bald-head! go up, bald-head!'
24: And he looketh behind him, and seeth them, and declareth them vile in
    the name of Jehovah, and two bears come out of the forest, and rend
    of them forty and two lads.
  
 
What is interesting to me is that the language very clearly
explains that Elijah called the children vile in God's name: God did
not operate on his own.  It reads like Elijah asked God to take the
children for him.  That is very interesting.
  
  
Here is what I found on the web as interpretations:

(Matthew Henry, Modern Christian Interpretation):
  
        The Lord must be glorified as a righteous God who hates sin, and
    will reckon for it. Let young persons be afraid of speaking wicked
    words, for God notices what they say. Let them not mock at any for
    defects in mind or body; especially it is at their peril, if they
    scoff at any for well doing. Let parents that would have comfort in
    their children, train them up well, and do their utmost betimes to
    drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts. And
    what will be the anguish of those parents, at the day of judgment,
    who witness the everlasting condemnation of their offspring,
        occasioned by their own bad example, carelessness, or wicked teaching!
  
Hmm, he doesn't mention if the taking of the children of the bears was
actual or not, be he does say in effect, "Christ (through the holy spirit)
teaches people to raise there children not to mock old people, because God
is listening."

(Jameson-Fanssett-Brown, Interpretation Guide):

On 23 and 24:
        There came forth little children out of the city--that is, the
    idolatrous, or infidel young men of the place, who affecting to
    disbelieve the report of his master's translation, sarcastically
    urged him to follow in the glorious career.

        bald head--an epithet of contempt in the East, applied to a person
    even with a bushy head of hair. The appalling judgment that befell
    them was God's interference to uphold his newly invested prophet.

Okay, so this says that "bald head" does not actually mean "bald head," but
it is more like calling somebody something like an idiot in modern speak;
but this says that God took these children's lives to hold up His new
choice of prophet.  God makes interesting choices in exacting his
vengeance.


(John Wesley's Notes on the Bible, Protestant Interpretation):
(He invented the phrase, "practical piety.")

        Cursed them - Nor was this punishment too great for the offense,
        if it be considered, that their mocking proceeded from a great
        malignity of mind against God; that they mocked not only a man,
        and an ancient man, whose very age commanded reverence; and a
        prophet; but even God himself, and that glorious work of God,
        the assumption of Elijah into heaven; that they might be guilty
        of many other heinous crimes, which God and the prophet knew;
        and were guilty of idolatry, which by God's law deserved death;
        that the idolatrous parents were punished in their children;
        and that, if any of these children were more innocent, God
        might have mercy upon their souls, and then this death was
        not a misery, but a real blessing to them, that they were taken
        away from that education which was most likely to expose them
        not only to temporal, but eternal destruction.

Okay so this one simply says, "God killed the children because
it would have been a far greater injustice to leave them on the earth
and allow their idolatrous parents do them more harm and condemn
their souls to eternal destruction."

Okay, so this interpretation leads me to some direct questions I would
love to have some answers to:

1) If Christ is so compassionate and all forgiving, why were these
   children not offered to repent for their sins?  Why did the rules
   change so drastically in the New Testiment?

2) If I would choose to mock a worker for God, say a Pastor, Priest, or
   Pope: why, not by this example, would God choose to take my soul
   in a similar act?

I am very interested to see how the Korean Christians would interpret
this; as well as how Jews would (I didn't realize at first that this
section was from the Old Testament).  Please do find out!

Moreover, how do you interpret this?  What were your first feelings on
this passage?

Loves and kisses,

Me.
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 2 Kings
Book: 2 Kings
Chapter: 2

Overview:
Elijah divides Jordan. (1-8) Elijah is taken up into Heaven.
(9-12) Elisha is manifested to be Elijah's successor. (13-18)
Elisha heals the waters of Jericho, Those that mocked Elisha
destroyed. (19-25)

1-8 The Lord had let Elijah know that his time was at Hand. He
therefore went to the different Schools of the Prophets to give
them his last exhortations and blessing. The removal of Elijah
was a Type and figure of the Ascension of Christ, and the
opening of the kingdom of Heaven to all believers. Elisha had
long followed Elijah, and he would not leave him now when he
hoped for the parting blessing. Let not those who follow Christ
come short By tiring at last. The waters of Jordan, of old,
yielded to the Ark; now, to the Prophet's Mantle, as a token of
God's presence. When God will take up his Faithful ones to
Heaven, Death is the Jordan which they must pass through, and
they find a way through it. The Death of Christ has divided
those waters, that the ransomed of the Lord may pass over. O
Death, where is thy sting, thy hurt, thy terror!

9-12 That Fulness, from whence prophets and apostles had all
their supply, still exists as of old, and we are told to ask
large supplies from it. Diligent attendance upon Elijah,
particularly in his last hours, would be proper means for Elisha
to obtain much of his Spirit. The comforts of departing saints,
and their experiences, help both to gild our comforts and to
strengthen our resolutions. Elijah is carried to Heaven in a
fiery Chariot. Many questions might be asked about this, which
could not be answered. Let it suffice that we are told, what his
Lord, when he came, found him doing. He was engaged in serious
discourse, encouraging and directing Elisha about the kingdom of
God among men. We mistake, if we think preparation for Heaven is
carried On only By contemplation and Acts of devotion. The
Chariot and horses appeared like Fire, something very glorious,
not for burning, but brightness. By the manner in which Elijah
and Enoch were taken from this world, God gave a glimpse of the
eternal Life brought to Light By the Gospel, of the Glory
reserved for the bodies of the saints, and of the opening of the
kingdom of Heaven to all believers. It was also a figure of
Christ's Ascension. Though Elijah was gone triumphantly to
Heaven, yet this world could ill spare him. Surely their hearts
are hard, who feel not, when God, By taking away Faithful,
useful men, calls for weeping and mourning. Elijah was to
Israel, By his counsels, reproofs, and prayers, better than the
strongest force of Chariot and Horse, and kept off the judgments
of God. Christ bequeathed to his disciples his precious Gospel,
like Elijah's Mantle; the token of the Divine power being
exerted to overturn the empire of Satan, and to set up the
Kingdom of God in the world. The same Gospel remains with us,
though the miraculous powers are withdrawn, and it has Divine
strength for the Conversion and Salvation of sinners.

13-18 Elijah left his Mantle to Elisha; as a token of the
descent of the Spirit upon him; it was more than if he had left
him Thousands of Gold and Silver. Elisha took it up, not as a
sacred relic to be worshipped, but as a significant garment to
be worn. Now that Elijah was taken to Heaven, Elisha inquired,
1. After God; when our Creature-comforts are removed, we have a
God to go to, who lives for ever. 2. After the God that Elijah
served, and honoured, and pleaded for. The Lord God of the holy
prophets is the same yesterday, to-Day, and for ever; but what
will it avail us to have the mantles of those that are gone,
their places, their books, if we have not their Spirit, their
God? See Elisha's dividing the River; God's people need not fear
at last passing through the Jordan of Death as On dry ground.
The sons of the prophets made a needless search for Elijah. Wise
men may yield to that, for the sake of peace, and the good
opinion of others, which yet their Judgment is against, as
needless and fruitless. Traversing hills and valleys will never
bring us to Elijah, but following the Example of his holy Faith
and zeal will, in due time.

19-25 Observe the Miracle of healing the waters. Prophets
should make every place to which they come better for them,
endeavouring to sweeten Bitter spirits, and to make Barren souls
fruitful, By the Word of God, which is like the Salt cast into
the water By Elisha. It was an apt emblem of the effect produced
By the Grace of God On the sinful Heart of Man. Whole families,
towns, and cities, sometimes have a new appearance through the
preaching of the Gospel; wickedness and evil have been changed
into fruitfulness in the Works of Righteousness, which are,
through Christ, to the praise and Glory of God. Here is a Curse
On the youths of Bethel, enough to destroy them; it was not a
Curse causeless, for it was Elisha's character, as God's
Prophet, that they abused. They bade him "go up," reflecting On
the taking up of Elijah into Heaven. The Prophet acted By Divine
impulse. If the Holy Spirit had not directed Elisha's solemn
Curse, the Providence of God would not have followed it with
Judgment. The Lord must be glorified as a righteous God who
hates Sin, and will reckon for it. Let young persons be afraid
of speaking wicked words, for God notices what they say. Let
them not mock at any for defects in mind or body; especially it
is at their peril, if they scoff at any for Well doing. Let
parents that would have comfort in their children, train them up
Well, and do their utmost betimes to drive out the foolishness
that is bound up in their hearts. And what will be the anguish
of those parents, at the Day of Judgment, who Witness the
Everlasting condemnation of their offspring, occasioned By their
own bad Example, carelessness, or wicked teaching!

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