A friend of mine sent me a text yesterday. He either read this passage or had it thrown in his face as an example of the “cruelty of the God of the Bible”.
Is this a correct translation? Or a fake?
II Kings 2:23-24
New International Version (NIV)
Elisha Is Jeered
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!”
24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.
I am just in absolute shock. All that, for a couple of children being immature?
Elisha could have just acted like an adult, and ignored them.
Why murder them?
This makes us Christians look like really horrible people. How can we go preach about how abortion is murder? Which I do believe it is. From day one of conception.
But then have this in our Bible? It makes us hypocrites. Self defense is one thing, but beyond that, I believe all life is precious and divinely created by God himself. From angels to insects.
This just honestly blows my mind away. I can’t see any justification in someone doing this to children, under any circumstance.
One of my favorite tools for this is Bible Gateway, a free online site that offers multiple translations. Much less pleasant to look at but much more powerful in what it offers is Biblos’ Bible Suite, also fantastic in its free use. The tools we Christians have available today make yesterday’s scholars look like amateurs.
Understand that the original Scriptures were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Unless you have one of those texts and can read that language, you do not have a “perfect” translation…not even the King James. I am not a fan of the KJV because, although it is more accurate than the more modern translations1, it is hard to understand. I still use it, but sparingly.
I’m also suspicious of those who push “King James only”, sometimes even making the ludicrous claim that the KJV is the “perfect, inerrant Word of God”.
James I of England gave his “Authorized 1611” translation to his friend, Francis Bacon (a Freemason), to edit. Bacon’s friend and confident was Jesuit Tobie Matthew. It’s not a stretch to imagine that a Jesuit was involved in the only translation preferred by so-called anti-Papists.
The opposite end of the spectrum are Bible paraphrases that use modern, colloquial English; “Jesus was down with it because tax collectors and sinners were his peeps.” I have no problem with people reading modern paraphrases or even depicting Jesus to be white, black, hispanic, asian…whatever brings you from where you are to Him. Just understand that once you become a serious student, accuracy becomes more important and more critical. Yeshua was a Middle Eastern Jew and I’m sure He looked like one.
Most people can’t read Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek so the best thing to do is use more than one translation. If a passage doesn’t sound right, look at it in a different version. Web sites like Bible Gateway and Bible Suite make that as easy as a click or a drop-down menu!
If you really want to get serious do a word study. Examine a word in its original form. This can be done using an Interlinear Bible such as what Biblos offers. You will be able to see what you read in English and the original wording in the original language. Click on the word and you should be able to get some broad definitions that may actually change the meaning of that passage or give new meaning to another passage.
Here’s an example.
In Genesis 2:24 we read of the first sacred marriage where the New American Standard Bible (supposedly dedicated to word-for-word translating) tells us a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
The Interlinear Bible looks like this:
Note that Hebrew, unlike English, reads right to left.
See the numbers? They represent the life’s work of James Strong. Before the first computer, Strong meticulously numbered every word in the King James Bible and it was a tremendous tool in his day and even into today. Take a look at Strong’s Old Testament Hebrew #0259, transliterated “echad” and translated “one” in English.
One of the foundational prayers to Judaism is the Shema Yisrael, which comes from the Books of Deuteronomy and Numbers and the name of the prayer is derived from Deuteronomy 6:4; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!
This prayer and this passage are even used by Jews to contradict a Christian belief in the Triune Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What Christians know as “the Trinity” and is apparent throughout the New Testament.
5 “But now I Am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’
6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
12 I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the Truth; for He will not speak on His Own Initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
New American Standard Bible (capitalization added for precision)
Before computers, Bible students used a Strong’s Concordance to do word searches. They can look up a word and see everywhere it appears in the King James Bible. Today, computers make word searches in any translation a snap.
But if you really wanted to be specific, you could find an original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek word, find its Strong’s number and search by that word. In the case of echad, Strong’s 259, it occurs an astounding 967 times (sometimes those numbers can hold meaning, as well). One of them is in a very interesting place. Number 377 of that 967 is Deuteronomy 6:4. What does that tell us? We wouldn’t be far off if we translated Deuteronomy 6:4 as “Hear O Yisrael, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, just as a husband who is joined to his wife becomes one!”
Now, on to boy-eating bears.
One of the most critical rules of understanding Scripture is context…context…context. We get carried away with how amazingly the Bible keeps the same Message through its 66 Books and forget that those Books were penned by 40 different Holy Spirit-inspired humans across thousands of years!
Each Book has a specific place in history and the culture of its time as well as particular methods and mechanics used by that specific author. Of course, as the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 15:4, such things are written for us to learn from. But we must also be sensitive to what was going on in the world when the Book was written, who the human author was and who the intended audience was.
The above passage in II Kings 2 deals with the passing of the mantle of authority from the prophet Elijah to the prophet Elisha. Elijah was such a powerful, important prophet that in the beginning of Chapter 2 we see him being taken bodily into Heaven, one of only two men in Scripture who don’t see death (your homework is to find out who the other is).
In Hebrew tradition Elijah is considered the embodiment of prophecy and when one says “Elijah” you can simultaneously mean “all prophets” in the same way that Moses represents the Law and the Law can sometimes represent all of Scripture.
When Jesus was transfigured, two men appeared with Him: Moses and Elijah. They represented the Word of God in Christ’s Time; “the Law and the Prophets”. They were there to testify that the entirety of Scripture speaks of the Son of God.
A lot of people wanted his authority and it was critical that the Lord show His people who did and who didn’t have it.
As soon as Elisha dawned the mantle of Elijah he began working the miracles of God like purifying the water outside of Bethel.
When the “boys” began to mock and humiliate Elisha, they were mocking God because that is Who Elisha represented. One thing is for sure, Almighty God will not be mocked. Receiving an earthly punishment may even have been a sign of mercy from God because those who mock Him without receiving a temporary earthly rebuke in this world will receive a far more terrible rebuke in their eternal judgment.
There is no such thing as an “innocent boy”. Human beings are born in sin and filth and the only thing that keeps a baby from showing it is their own awareness. Here are some disturbing headlines for you to prove my point:
City Teen Charged with Rape A Williamsport teen has been charged with the rape of a 17 year old female, police say.
TEENS RAPED GIRL, DISTRIBUTED PHOTOS ONLINE [headline mine]
TEEN GIRLS — USESOCIAL MEDIA TO THREATEN YOUNG RAPE VICTIM INTO SILENCE [headline mine] Basically, two girls threatened another teen girl for reporting how two football players raped her when she foolishly allowed herself to get into a drunken stupor at a party.
Elisha didn’t “murder” innocent “boys” and he may even have been shocked at the power of his curse, though Scripture doesn’t record his reaction.
“Murder” is the taking of human life for selfish gain.
Death as a result of judgment of a crime is a constant throughout Scripture (and why I’m for “capital punishment”). All sin deserves death and Almighty God will often pick specific sins to make an example of. Did you know that not one but two Christians died in the early Church just for lying about how much money they donated?
Finally, when someone who hates God throws some haughty example of why they’re right to do so and how the Bible is filled with “lies”, “cruelty” or “myths” in my face my first reaction isn’t to get appalled or upset, it’s to calmly ration whether the person is a fool destined for the Lake of Fire regardless of my effort or a serious truth-seeker. If the latter, I say, “Here’s the answer,” or “Hey, good question. I’ll get back to you.”
And in all of my 19 years of being Born Again, I’ve never had one I couldn’t answer.
To hell with those who mock the Bible, brother. Keep the Faith!
UPDATE: 12 November 2018
I have changed a lot since I first wrote this.
My friend and partner, “Doc Felipe”, recently brought this passage up again.
We have been critically examining the efforts of the Jesuit-controlled Vatican to discredit the Bible.
For instance, in Matthew 17, a father pleads with Jesus to save his son from a demon who possesses him in an effort to harm him casting him alternatively through fire and water.
14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Good translations will admit that verse 21 is not in the more reliable manuscripts. It has a very Catholic flavor to it. The disciples lacked the conviction of faith that their Rabbi was the Son of God. Period. There is no magic formula for doing His Will, not even taking authority over demons, as rare as that might be.
The Catholic Church, however, has made the ritual of exorcism a cottage industry, with plenty of help from “Jew-controlled” Hollywood.
Felipe found this from “GotQuestions” and it’s an excellent response:
First, the King James Version has done us a disservice by translated the term as “children.” The Hebrew word can refer to children, but rather more specifically means “young men.” The NIV, quoted here, uses the word “youths.” Second, the fact that the bears mauled 42 of the youths indicates that there were more than 42 youths involved. This was not a small group of children making fun of a bald man. Rather, it was a large demonstration of young men who assembled for the purpose of mocking a prophet of God.
“Go up” is likely a mockery of a prophet journeying to Jerusalem to take up his office, as is “bald head”.
In Ezekiel 5, Elisha’s mentor was commanded by God to shave his head and severely trim his beard and then divide up the hair, one third was to be burned, one third struck with a sword and the final third cast to the wind, to symbolize the judgment upon apostate Jerusalem. Elisha, continuing the mission of Ezekiel, may very well have shaved his head as he dawned Ezekiel’s mantel (literally).
Most of His prophets suffered greatly at the hands of a rebellious people.
Why would He allow Isaiah to be sawn in half2 but loose bears to maul a demonstration mocking Elisha?
Ask Him when you see Him.
“GotQuestions” is a great source as long as it’s nothing to do with the Vatican and prophecy.
If you ask “Who is the antichrist?” you get, “The Bible really does not say anything specific about where the Antichrist will come from.”
Protestors in the day of Martin Luther believed that the “stout little horn” that rose up amongst the other horns on Daniel’s Fourth and Final Beast in Chapter 7 was the office of the Papacy.
Questions dismisses Protestors by claiming Luther only believed it was Leo X—
It is likely that most people who are alive when the Antichrist is revealed will be very surprised at his identity. The Antichrist may or may not be alive today. Martin Luther was convinced that the pope in his time was the Antichrist. During the 1940’s, many believed Adolph Hitler was the Antichrist. Others who have lived in the past few hundred years have been equally sure as to the identity of the Antichrist. So far, they have all been incorrect. We should put the speculations behind us and focus on what the Bible actually says about the Antichrist. Revelation 13:5-8 declares, “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”
Emphasizing a literal “forty-two months” and implying it takes place in “the future” is a doctrine created by Jesuits, called “Futurism”.
Hitler did not claim to be Jesus Christ, or equal to Him, but every Pope before and since has, which is why Luther and all of the good Protestors of his day understood (rightly) that, in fulfillment of Matthew 24:5—
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
It is the “Vicar of Christ”, each and every one, who is Anti-Christ.
- —which have been purposefully tampered with by the Vatican to discredit the Bible and force “Christians” to rely upon Rome instead for their Salvation.
- This is “rabbinic tradition” and, I have to say, the idea that Isaiah was hiding from King Manasseh in a tree, but the tassels of his prayer shawl gave him away, sounds like Hebrew story-telling to glorify their false piety.