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23 He went up from there to Bethel. As he was traveling up the road, some young boys[a] came out of the city and made fun of him, saying, “Go on up, baldy! Go on up, baldy!” 24 When he turned around and saw them, he called God’s judgment down on them.[b] Two female bears came out of the woods and ripped forty-two of the boys to pieces. 25 From there he traveled to Mount Carmel and then back to Samaria.[c]

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  1. 2 Kings 2:23 tn The word נַעַר (naʿar), here translated “boy,” can refer to a broad age range, including infants as well as young men. But the qualifying term “young” (or “small”) suggests these youths were relatively young. The phrase in question (“young boy”) occurs elsewhere in 1 Sam 20:35; 1 Kgs 3:7 (used by Solomon in an hyperbolic manner); 11:17; 2 Kgs 5:14; and Isa 11:6.
  2. 2 Kings 2:24 tn Heb “he cursed them in the name of the Lord.” A curse was a formal appeal to a higher authority (here the Lord) to vindicate one’s cause through judgment. As in chapter one, this account makes it clear that disrespect for the Lord’s designated spokesmen can be deadly, for it is ultimately rejection of the Lord’s authority.
  3. 2 Kings 2:25 sn The two brief episodes recorded in vv. 19-25 demonstrate Elisha’s authority and prove that he is the legitimate prophetic heir of Elijah. He has the capacity to bring life and blessing to those who recognize his authority, or death and judgment to those who reject him.