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Did Elijah really cause she-bears to kill little children?? (2 Kings 2:23-24)
This is one of those times I love to use the Blue Letter Bible to find out the original Hebrew for the words used in our English Bible. The word “little children” comes from the Hebrew קְטַנִּים וּנְעָרִים (Qatan na’ar). There are a LOT of possible translations to this, but taking into account the footnote for 2 Kinds 2:23a it is mostly likely that this phrase means unimportant youth. Again, this word “youth” can be misunderstood. In our time that means someone 18 or younger, but in ancient Israel the word “youth” could indicate someone up until they reached the age of thirty! There seems to have been a group of almost 50 of them (some records even indicate they may have been stoning Elisha) so Elisha could have been in actual physical danger.
It’s also worth noting that in 2 Kings 2:24 it says that the bears “tare” the youths. Taking another look at the Blue Letter Bible this clarifies that it means to be “torn open”— not necessarily killed. So while Elisha may have called on God’s protection against a large pack of unruly young men, there is no record than any of them were actually killed.
(For a totally different but interesting interpretation of this story, check out this link here.
What is going on in 2 Kings 4:34?
2 Kings 4:34 is an interesting verse that records a spiritual/physical form of resuscitation. Though doing so would make Elisha ceremonially unclean, he touched the body of a dead boy by laying himself on top of him. Their size difference would likely have required that he do the next parts of the “resuscitation” in order, rather than all at once. He touched his mouth to the boy’s mouth, his eyes to the boy’s eyes, and his hands to the boy’s hands.
This seems to be the same resuscitation mode that Elijah (Elisha’s mentor) used to raise the widow of Zarephath’s child in 1 Kings 17:21.
Could this have been some form of mouth-to-mouth? Or perhaps an effort to warm the body of the dead to prepare it for the spirit to return? We simply don’t know! But these are the only records we have in the Bible of physical resuscitation to raise the dead.
Best scripture story ever! (2 Kings 6:16)
The story in 2 Kings has long been my favorite– ever since I read Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s retelling of it in one of his greatest talks ever. After sharing the story of Elisha and his young servant boy being surrounded by the Syrian army (and then discovering a heavenly army ready to come to their aid) he said, “In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you must remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”
I highly recommend reading this talk. . . it is life-changing! Click Here to Read!
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