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2 Kings 2:23

    2 Kings 2:23 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And he went up from there to Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said to him, Go up, you bald head; go up, you bald head.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And he went up from thence unto Beth-el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth young lads out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou baldhead.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Then from there he went up to Beth-el; and on his way, some little boys came out from the town and made sport of him, crying, Go up, old no-hair! go up, old no-hair!

    Webster's Revision

    And he went up from thence unto Beth-el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth young lads out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou baldhead.

    World English Bible

    He went up from there to Bethel. As he was going up by the way, some youths came out of the city and mocked him, and said to him, "Go up, you baldy! Go up, you baldhead!"

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: 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.

    Definitions for 2 Kings 2:23

    Thence - There; that place.

    Clarke's Commentary on 2 Kings 2:23

    There came forth little children out of the city - These were probably the school of some celebrated teacher; but under his instruction they had learned neither piety nor good manners.

    Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head - עלה קרח עלה קרח aleh kereach, aleh kereach. Does not this imply the grossest insult? Ascend, thou empty skull, to heaven, as it is pretended thy master did! This was blasphemy against God; and their punishment (for they were Beth-elite idolaters) was only proportioned to their guilt. Elisha cursed them, i.e., pronounced a curse upon them, in the name of the Lord, בשם יהוה beshem Yehovah, by the name or authority of Jehovah. The spirit of their offense lies in their ridiculing a miracle of the Lord: the offense was against Him, and He punished it. It was no petulant humor of the prophet that caused him to pronounce this curse; it was God alone: had it proceeded from a wrong disposition of the prophet, no miracle would have been wrought in order to gratify it.

    "But was it not a cruel thing to destroy forty-two little children, who, in mere childishness, had simply called the prophet bare skull, or bald head?" I answer, Elisha did not destroy them; he had no power by which he could bring two she-bears out of the wood to destroy them. It was evidently either accidental, or a Divine judgment; and if a judgment, God must be the sole author of it. Elisha's curse must be only declaratory of what God was about to do. See on 2 Kings 1:10 (note). "But then, as they were little children, they could scarcely be accountable for their conduct; and consequently, it was cruelty to destroy them." If it was a judgment of God, it could neither be cruel nor unjust; and I contend, that the prophet had no power by which he could bring these she-bears to fall upon them. But were they little children? for here the strength of the objection lies. Now I suppose the objection means children from four to seven or eight years old; for so we use the word: but the original, נערים קטנים nearim ketannim, may mean young men, for קטן katon signifies to be young, in opposition to old, and is so translated in various places in our Bible; and נער naar signifies, not only a child, but a young man, a servant, or even a soldier, or one fit to go out to battle; and is so translated in a multitude of places in our common English version. I shall mention but a few, because they are sufficiently decisive: Isaac was called נער naar when twenty-eight years old, Genesis 21:5-12; and Joseph was so called when he was thirty-nine, Genesis 41:12. Add to these 1 Kings 20:14 : "And Ahab said, By whom [shall the Assyrians be delivered into my hand?] And he said, Thus saith the Lord, by the Young Men, בנערי benaarey, of the princes of the provinces." That these were soldiers, probably militia, or a selection from the militia, which served as a bodyguard to Ahab, the event sufficiently declares; and the persons that mocked Elisha were perfectly accountable for their conduct.

    But is it not possible that these forty-two were a set of unlucky young men, who had been employed in the wood, destroying the whelps of these same she-bears, who now pursued them, and tore them to pieces, for the injury they had done? We have already heard of the ferocity of a bear robbed of her whelps; see at the end of 2 Samuel 17:28. The mention of She-bears gives some color to the above conjecture; and, probably, at the time when these young fellows insulted the prophet, the bears might be tracing the footsteps of the murderers of their young, and thus came upon them in the midst of their insults, God's providence ordering these occurrences so as to make this natural effect appear as a Divine cause. If the conjecture be correct, the bears were prepared by their loss to execute the curse of the prophet, and God's justice guided them to the spot to punish the iniquity that had been just committed.

    Barnes' Notes on 2 Kings 2:23

    As Beth-el was the older seat of the calf-worship 1 Kings 12:32-33; 1 Kings 13:1-32, a prophet of Yahweh was not unlikely to meet with insult there.

    By the way - i. e. "by the usual road," probably that which winds up the Wady Suweinit, under hills even now retaining some trees, and in Elisha's time covered with a dense forest, the haunt of savage animals. Compare 1 Kings 13:24; and for the general prevalence of beasts of prey in the country, both earlier and later than this, see Judges 14:5; 1 Samuel 17:31; 2 Kings 17:25; Amos 5:19, etc.