2 Kings 2:23-25 – The Boys of Bethel

Christian Mölk2 Kings Leave a Comment

2Kings 2:23-24

  1. The “little boys” were probably teenage boys, judging from the Hebrew words. It is not clear from the basic text that these young people “died”, but rather that they were “torn”.
  2. The Canaanite peoples sometimes mourned their dead by cutting and tearing themselves with knives and shaving off their hair (Leviticus 21:5). This ceremonial tradition was forbidden by God when the Israelites took the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 14:1) and one of the punishments that would befall the Israelites if they broke this commandment was that the Lord would “send upon you beasts that shall kill your children” (Leviticus 26:14-22).
    1. When the young people say “up with you,” they are probably referring to the passing of Elijah by the Lord lifting him “up” into heaven. Perhaps Elisha had lost his hair at a young age and the youth believe that he shaved off his hair in order to mourn Elijah’s death. God firmly rejects the practice of this pagan tradition by sending wild beasts to “tear” the boys.
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