Does The Bible Endorse Child Abuse?
(2 Kings 2:23-25)
Does 2 Kings 2:23-25 (when the prophet Elisha sent in the form of judgment of two female bears who mauled these young men) endorse child abuse as skeptics claim? Let us examine the context:
- The Young "Men"
2 Kings 2:23: "Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, ‘Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!'" The word used for "youths" here is the word na'ar (which is found 235 times in the OT). The meaning of the usage of this word in the Old Testament ranges from a baby to an adult. It is a broad range. For example, Joseph is called a na'ar when he was 30 years old (cf. Genesis 41:12,40,46). Joseph was a na'ar when he was forty-five to fifty years of age (Exodus 33:11; Joshua 24:29). We still do not know the age of these mockers who came to Elisha, yet it shows they were old enough that they were morally accountable. They were capable of choosing right from wrong. They were responsible for their own actions.
- The Mocking
2 Kings 2:23: "Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, ‘Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!'" This word "mocked" is found in 2 Chronicles 36:15,16 in which the people of Israel had mocked the true prophets who had been sent by God to warn them of the coming judgment of Babylon. They were fools for exhibiting this type of behavior. Proverbs 14:9 states: "Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor." Look at what these young men stated: "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" This is reminiscent of when Elijah (Elisha's mentor and another true prophet) had gone up into heaven in 2 Kings 1. These young men wanted to get rid of this prophet! They wanted him gone from their midst. This shows that these young men were not innocent!
They mocked him by calling him a "baldhead." It is true that Elisha might have been bald, but the word "baldness" in Isaiah 3:18-24 is used in the sense of cursing. So these responsible men wanted to curse the prophet!
- The Mandate
Since these young men were hardly willing to repent and side with the Lord, Elisha pronounced a curse upon them by the authority of the Lord.
- The Mauling
Sometime later two female bears came from the woods and mauled to death forty-two wicked young men. Elisha would not have had any power of his own to call these bears from the woods. It is clearly seen that this was done by the sovereignty of God since He has control of all creation. We see this frequently alluded to in the Scriptures. For instance (1) God brought the animals in the garden of Eden for Adam to name, (2) God brought animals to Noah to put on the ark, (3) God had a donkey talk to Balaam the false prophet, (4) God had a great fish to swallow Jonah, (5) God shut the mouths of the lions from eating Daniel, and (6) God used female bears as a divine judgment upon these evil young men.
From this historical account, we learn that respect was missing from these young men for the one whom God commissioned to speak on His behalf. In our modern world, respect is also a missing virtue. It is not shown in the home, the school system, the workplace, etc. In Romans 1:29-32, the Bible warns that those who are backbiters and disobedient to parents are deserving of death. We must teach our young people to have respect for the proper authorities (Ephesians 6:1-4; Romans 13:1-7; Proverbs 20:29; 1 Timothy 5:1,2) to prevent them from having further trouble down the road with other authorities, especially with the Final Authority - God (2 Corinthians 5:10).
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