In 2 Kings 2 we read about Elisha on his visit to Jericho. The people there were whining about not being able to grow crops for lack of water, so Elisha decided to come to the rescue by dumping salt in the water and thereby curing it. So far Elisha seems like a pretty nice guy.
His work in Jericho complete, Elisha decided to head up to Bethel. En route, a strange thing happened, which we read about in 2 Kings 2:23-24:
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.
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.
First of all, what kind of weird kids lived in Bethel? Did forty-two kids all come out of the city at once and say in unison, "Go up, thou bald head."? Had they been practicing? Did they do this for comic effect? What would possess such a large group of kids to say such a weird verse, and then repeat again? Was there nothing to occupy them in Bethel? Couldn't they have got together a game of football or baseball or something?
Whatever the reason, why did Elisha get so pissed off. Was he really bald? If so, and he was so self-conscious, couldn't he have worn a wig? And what the hell was so bad about what the kids said? If he was going up, were they not just telling him to continue, while making note of his lack of hair? Were their words not better than something like, "Move your ass, you old fart!"?
Regardless of what they said, could Elisha not just see that they were children? Had he been a little angel during his childhood? Had he and a group of friends never hurled insults at a strange looking adult? Or was he pissed off because as a kid he never had any friends? As for these kids, were they the first to comment on his bald head? Had the insults just been building up? Could he not have gotten some medication to help him with his stress? Did he not think that calling down the wrath of God was not a little out of line?
But the big question is, what the hell was God thinking? Could God not see that Elisha was overreacting? Did God agree that 42 little kids deserved to die just for calling a bald man bald? Was there a missing Commandment that Moses had lost that had said, "Thou shalt not call a bald man bald."? And even if such childish disrespect pissed off God, could He not have gone about it in a different way? Did He have to send a couple of bears to kill the kids? Could He not have sent a couple a counselor to give the parents some help?
On the other hand, is it possible that this never happened? I mean, with the kids dead, Elisha would have been the only witness and I hardly think it's something he'd be bragging about.
However, in Leviticus 26:22 God makes it clear that He's not opposed to sending wild animals to tear little children apart, for there He says:
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
Were the people of Bethel thankful that their cattle were spared? And what's the deal with these two bears? How could two bears tear 42 kids apart? Did the kids all stand there and wait their turn? Couldn't the other 40 have run away while the first 2 kids were being torn asunder? Were these bears special terminator-bears, capable of mass smiting? Were they God's familiars?
Can they be called down upon adults as well? Are all bear killings some sort of divine retribution? Must we fear bear attacks if we fall asleep in church? Or if we fail to give 10 percent of our income in the collection plate?
On the other hand, can we call out these divine intensive-care bears ourselves if somebody pisses us off? I mean, God liked Elisha, right? So if we get on God's good side too, can we access the power of the bears? Can we go strutting through the ghettos in confidence, knowing that bear protection is just a call away? Can we call them out against the IRS if we get audited? Are they there to help us if we get pulled over for speeding? Where are the limitations on the uses of the special God Bears?