Video: Elisha and the She-Bears

Today I discuss the troubling passage at the end of 2 Kings 2, where forty-two are killed after ridiculing the prophet Elisha. This discussion was prompted by Jonathan Pageau’s discussion of this passage.

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Apologetics, Audio, Bible, Controversies, Hermeneutics, OT, OT Theology, Podcasts, Theological, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Video: Elisha and the She-Bears

  1. Hi Alastair,
    I found this video very interesting, and also very sobering. As is my wont I have many questions and thoughts in my mind, but I will keep to just one question here.
    You said ‘our God is a consuming fire’ more than once – please could you tell us more of your thoughts on that?
    (I started thinking about ‘refiner’s fire’, and especially in connection with the words of Jesus to Peter – ‘I will let Satan sift you’. I also thought of ‘hellfire’ and the sulphur lake … )
    I love your videos – thank you.

    • And I see that I got myself mixed up! Of course Jesus actually said, ‘… Satan has asked to sift you like wheat…’ and I had assumed that Jesus would allow this to happen because he wanted Peter to be strengthened ( refined?)

    • Thanks, Christine!

      I was referencing Hebrews 12:29. I had in mind its context of judgment and testing. We must approach God with reverence and awe. When God comes in judgment, he comes like a fire that devours all that is wicked, but which purifies all that is good.

  2. Esther says:

    42. Ha! I understood that reference!

    Maybe I missed it somewhere in here as I skipped around some, but do you touch on the fact that this was likely a large group of young men with full growth who could reasonably be inferred to have darker intentions towards Elisha than merely insulting his baldness? There seem to have been a lot of them concentrated in one place, aggressively trash-talking him. Under those circumstances, I don’t see any reason why Elisha shouldn’t have called backup, so to speak.

  3. Mike Ford says:

    Do you think there is any “connection” between the 42 young boys attacked by the she-bears and the 42 months in Revelation 13:5, in terms of “divine judgement” ?
    Also, since Elijah is a “type” of John the Baptist, as Jesus later acknowledges, do you think Elisha, as his successor, is a “type” of Jesus, replacing the Levitical priesthood of John with the Melchizedekian priesthood ?

    • I don’t think there is any direct connection with Revelation, although 42 is an important number as 42 months = 1260 days = a time, times, and half a time = three and a half years = a broken week = 3×14 (Matthew 1) or 6×7 (the week of years before that which brings in the Jubilee), etc.

      As I’ve noted in several places, Moses is to Joshua as Elijah is to Elisha and John is to Jesus. Each pairing involves an initial desert prophet, followed by a successor in the land. I don’t think a Levitical/Melchizedekian priesthood contrast is prominent here.

      • Mike Ford says:

        Thanks for your answer! One more follow-up to it.
        Do you think the “desert” (wilderness) prophet followed by the “land” prophet could signify contrasts between “Fallen Creation” and “New Creation/Redemption” ?

      • Mike Ford says:

        Since “land”, in an eschatological sense, would seem to refer to “New Creation”, this would appear to make some sense to me!

  4. Mike Ford says:

    Also, re: the “baldy” taunt, it seems to me that this is a reference to Elisha’s priesthood since priests were to shave their hair (symbolizing a “new-born” child ?) when making offerings to God.

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