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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

2 Kings 2

Verse 1

A MEMORABLE PARTING

‘And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.’

2 Kings 2:1

I. In this last journey the first thing to impress us is the loyal attachment of Elisha.—He reminds us of Ruth, pleading with Naomi and saying to her, ‘Entreat me not to leave thee.’ Elijah was not afraid to be alone—no man who ‘dwells deep’ is afraid of that. He may have wished, too, to spare Elisha pain, for he knew not the way of his departure. But with a splendid constancy that would not be gainsaid Elisha clung to his master as he journeyed; he followed him from Bethel down to Gilgal, and then from Gilgal to the east of Jordan. Does that not by contrast suggest another scene where a greater than Elijah is going to His death? Does it not recall our Lord and Saviour taking His last journey to the Cross? For as Jesus went on His sad way to Calvary, ‘all His disciples forsook Him and fled.’ It is by such a contrast that we gauge Elisha’s loyalty, and see how staunch and true he was, and learn how suitable a one he was to carry forward the championship of God.

II. Then, in the next place, we are arrested by the miracle upon the banks of Jordan.—Elijah smote the waters with his mantle, and immediately they went over on dry ground. Once the Red Sea had given a path to Israel when the rod of Moses had been lifted over it. Once this very Jordan had been parted before the feet of the priests who bore the ark. But now it was not a rod that gave the sign, nor was it the shadow of the sacred ark; it was the touch of the prophet’s mantle on the waters. Now the prophet’s mantle was the sign and symbol of all that as a prophet he had been. By his mantle he had been distinguished. When men descried it, they said, ‘There is Elijah.’ Rough, hairy, beaten with many a storm, it was a silent monitor in a luxurious age—it was the emblem of Elijah’s character. There was no power in the mantle by itself. God is a God of mystery, but not of magic. It was all that Elijah had been—all he had tried to do—that was honoured in this memorable hour. And the Jordan parted at the mantle’s touch, because the mantle was the epitome of that, and because the service and sacrifice which Jehovah loves, were symbolised for men in that rude cloak. The man who can say with St. Paul, ‘I have fought the fight,’ or with Elijah, ‘I have tried to serve,’ that man, when his day of life is closing, shall have the prophet’s mantle for his own.

III. Lastly, Take the ascension of Elijah, and compare it with the ascension of the Lord.—It is a study of the deepest interest to compare and contrast the two. In both, there had been a time of preparation; there were those who knew that the parting was at hand. In both, it occurred not in the weakness of age, but in the season when powers are at their prime. None but Elisha, the beloved disciple, saw the departure to heaven of Elijah; and on the slopes of Olivet there were not any strangers—only the little circle of His own. Elijah went heavenward in fire and tempest; Christ in a quiet scene of perfect calm—the storm is hushed, the elements are at rest, there broods a peace that passes understanding. Read over the story of Elijah’s translation, and you feel the shock and strangeness of it all. But read again the ascension of the Lord, and it seems as sweetly natural as dawn. So may we find, if we have eyes to see, the difference between the prophet and his King. The one at his best is but a child of earth; the other belongs by very right to heaven. Let us rejoice in these great and noble men who witnessed so bravely for righteousness in Israel. But over them all, and crowned with many crowns, is our King Who has ascended to the Father.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Note a distinction between the power which is immediate and the power which is derived. The appeal to the fathers is good, and tradition is deserving of reverence, but, after all, the God of Elijah is also our God. Our trust should be in Him.’

(2) ‘It is interesting to note, as Dean Stanley does, that from this descending mantle has been drawn the figure of speech which has passed into a proverb for the succession of the gifts of gifted men. It is one of the representations by which, in the Roman Catacombs, the early Christians consoled themselves for the loss of their departed friends.’

Verse 6

UNWILLING TO PART

‘And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.’

2 Kings 2:6

Elisha’s resolution to face the worst, to meet the severest trial, to hear the parting words, comes straight from a soul’s secret, the secret of a prophet’s power.

I. One prominent feature in the character of the younger prophet was faithfulness, minute and accurate, to an unmistakable vocation.

II. Again, there is evidenced in Elisha’s words a spirit of deep personal loyalty—loyalty, in the first instance, to his teacher and friend. The love of the younger for the older was certainly no mere act of hero-worship. There is present an unwavering sternness in every Hebrew prophet. In such men there is no dilettantism of hero-worship; if there, it must spring from deep and noble principle. In Elisha it did. His love for Elijah represented at its inner core a strong belief in goodness—goodness as a practical possibility, because a realised fact. That belief lived in him, through the example of Elijah, in an evil time.

III. Elisha had a keen sense of the claims and the nearness of God.—Nothing is more needed in the daily life of religion than this, nothing so abundantly productive of strength, so potent in unfolding power, and maintaining in vigour the sense of responsibility, and keeping aglow the fire of purpose, in a prophet’s soul. Hence in such there is one all-absorbing fear, the fear of losing Him; one governing desire, the desire to please Him—a mighty secret in a prophet’s power. By such nothing can be forsaken which teaches of His presence and His will. ‘As the Lord thy God liveth, I will not leave thee.’

—Canon Knox-Little.

Illustration

‘Elisha’s devotion to Elijah is very beautiful. He is an example of a faithful friend. We are reminded of Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. Elisha owed everything to Elijah, and it was fitting that he should cleave to him to the last and refuse to be separated from him. There are many young people who owe more than they know to older friends, parents, clergy, teachers, and others, who have been helpful to them. They should show their love in devotion.’

Verse 9

ELIJAH’S FAREWELL TO ELISHA

‘Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.’

2 Kings 2:9

‘I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.’ Elisha’s words to his master are a noble expression of the ideal relationship which ought to exist not only between teacher and taught, but between young and old, between the waning and the rising generation. Could there be a finer statement of the true principle of progress?—a more excellent motto for the guidance of human affairs? The transmission of spiritual heritage is a concern of our individual lives: the relationship of father to son, of young to old, of those who are passing away to those who are to take their place. A relationship of some kind there must be; and it concerns us all. The next generation will consist of the children of this generation; and these children will largely owe their characters to their parents’ example and precepts. Elijah might be conscious of his failures, but Elisha could carry on his work.

I. The duty is one of general and universal application.—All of us, in our respective stations, are influencing the character of the next generation. There is nothing which more entirely brings its own reward than sympathy with the young. Old age divides men sharply into two strongly contrasted classes. Amongst some we find isolation and querulousness; amongst others, geniality and contentment. Strive so to walk that the last wish of others towards you may be, ‘I pray that a double portion of thy spirit may be upon me.’

II. The following practical hints will enable us to use our influence aright in the most intimate relationships of life, especially in connection with the young.

(1) Beware of beginning to treat a young man with a sympathy which you are not prepared to carry beyond a certain point. In dealing with the young, try to recognise all the good that is in them. Do not be intolerant of enthusiasms which once appealed to yourself, and which you reluctantly abandoned. Be willing to think that what you were not strong enough to do another may accomplish. You cannot really influence another, unless you are ready to deal with him as an equal.

(2) Beware of demanding gratitude from the young. It is selfish to expect it; it is useless to demand it. Take it thankfully when it is proffered. The young are always ungrateful on account of their inexperience. They do not know, and so they cannot appreciate, the acts of self-sacrifice of which they have been the objects from their earliest days. Let the sincerity of your own efforts for their good be its own reward; let the motive of your action be the sense of duty that you owe to the future of your race.

(3) Do not aim at making the young mere copies of yourself. Years are rolling on, and opinions are changing. The world is not the same as it was in the old man’s youth; it’s problems are different in many ways; new difficulties require new armour; new dangers, new precautions. Do not try to alter, try rather to direct, the development of a young heart. The pessimism of old age is proverbial: ‘Things are not as they used to be when I was young,’ says every old man; but he has not thereby proved that they are worse. Let him set himself to understand these differences, and remember that his duty is to increase the good and to combat the evil in the world. Let us see that we are not possessed by an exclusive wish that nothing be done save in our own way, but hope and pray and work that those who come after us may have a double portion of our spirit, and be better and wiser than ourselves.

No subject so much repays our study as the development of the young mind. We see in it the germs of the future, and the sight strengthens us to look more trustfully, more hopefully on the present. Think of the last thanksgiving of Jesus: ‘Of those whom Thou gavest Me have I lost none.’ How beautiful! And God commits others to our charge. Let us accept the gift for the Giver’s sake, and try to realise its greatness. Let us set ourselves to illumine by our example the path of those who are to come; to aid them by our precepts; to strengthen them by our love; striving to hand on to sturdier runners in the race of life the torch which we have borne with too unequal steps.

—Bishop Creighton.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Elisha, being bidden to ask a boon, craves a double portion of Elijah’s spirit ( v. 9). He does not ask twice as much power as Elijah had. That would have been a dishonouring request. But he asks that he might be like Elijah’s first-born, and get the two parts of the inheritance that fell, by the law of Moses, to the first-born son ( Deuteronomy 21:17).’

(2) ‘Frequently we find a wall of separation between the old and young. The young complain that the old are hard, unsympathetic, unreasonable, interfering, exacting. The old complain that the young are ungrateful, arrogant, disrespectful: too often the father complains that he does not understand his son; the son, that he can find no sympathy from his father. A gulf once formed soon widens, and the natural link between generations is unnaturally severed. Much might be said in either case in excuse of one or the other. The duties of children to parents are perhaps sufficiently emphasised; let us not forget the duties of the old towards the young. The old are masters of the situation; if the young break away from them, the fault must be largely theirs.’

Verse 11

ELIJAH’S ASCENSION

‘Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.’

2 Kings 2:11

The ascension of the Lord was prefigured, foreshown, and, we may say, anticipated in part by the translation of Elijah.

I. Elijah’s work was done; his long controversy with Israel, with an apostate king and a rebellious people, was drawing to a close. He was to be withdrawn in a wonderful way from the earth. Our thoughts carry us on to One Who, like the prophet of the elder dispensation, had finished the work which His Father had given Him to do, and Who now, about to leave the earth, announced to His faithful disciples that legacy of love, that double portion of the Spirit, which He would bequeath to them.

II. Compare the actual translation of Elijah with the ascension of our Lord.—Elijah is translated; a chariot of fire and horses of fire are commissioned to snatch him away from the earth and carry him to heaven; but our Lord is borne upward by His innate power. He is not translated; He ascends. He came from heaven, and He returns to heaven, as to His natural home.

III. In what follows after Elijah has been taken up, we have a dim foreshadowing of the history of the Church. above all the Apostolic Church, after the ascension of its Lord.—(1) Elisha wrought a miracle with the mantle of Elijah; the mantle of our ascending Lord has fallen upon the Church. (2) Elisha wasted not his time in idle lamentations; he girt himself to his own work. The Apostles returned to Jerusalem; and when they received the promise of the Father, they became witnesses to Christ ‘in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.’

IV. Notice: (1) Christ’s ascension is the complement of His resurrection. (2) We have not now a King only sitting on the throne of power, but a High Priest as well, Who has passed within the veil, there to appear in the presence of God for us. (3) We should find in the contemplation of our ascended Lord a motive to heavenly-mindedness, for where our treasure is, there our heart should be also.

—Archbishop Trench.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Elijah’s was one of the most wonderful departures from this world that history records. Enoch is the only other one of whom we know who had this high honour. Of course, Elijah’s body was changed into the spiritual body. It is a most interesting fact that centuries after leaving the world Elijah was seen on the mount of transfiguration, active still. Death is not the end of a good man’s life. Death is a door, not a wall; we do not stop, we pass through.’

(2) ‘He passed the day joyfully—thus it is narrated in the old Chronicle about the Venerable Bede—till the shadows of the evening began to fall, and then the boy who was writing his translation of St. John said: “Dear master, there is yet one sentence to be written.” He answered: “Write it quickly.” Soon after the boy said: “The sentence is finished now.” “Thou hast well said it is finished! Raise my head in thy hands; for I wish to be facing the holy place where I was wont to pray, and as I lie to call upon my Father.” And so he lay upon the pavement of his little cell, singing, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” And when he named the Holy Ghost, he breathed his last, and so departed to the Heavenly Kingdom. May my end be like his, because my life too has been spent in learning and proclaiming the Word of my Lord, in choosing and bearing and fulfilling Christ’s will. Then, in my hour of need, may my Good Shepherd say:—

Yea, I have sought thee, yea, I have found thee,

Yea, I have thirsted for thee,

Yea, long ago with love’s bands I bound thee;

Now the Everlasting Arms surround thee—

Through death’s darkness I look and see,

And clasp thee to Me.’

Verse 14

ELISHA’S SUCCESSION

‘And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.’

2 Kings 2:14

Elisha was anxious to make his work in his day and generation to be one of service, and this anxiety showed itself in the petition he presented. The answer which was given by Elijah was that he could have that spirit of fitness if he had another spirit, viz. that of insight. He proved that he had that power of insight, and now the time was come when he must put into effect the powers he desired. The River Jordan rolled between him and his work. Could he break down that obstacle and enter in and take possession of the sphere of duty where his heart desired to dwell? It was a moment of crisis, but he remembered the strength which had made his master strong, and the difficulties disappeared, and the obstacles were vanquished.

I. The effort put forth by Elisha was the assertion of his own personality, and this every man is bound to make some time or other in the face of the world.—It was in the realisation of his own personality that he found power and gained the submission of the sons of the prophets.

II. It is only in a crisis of life that we are encouraged, almost coerced, to assert this responsibility.—When some change comes over our life, and we stand for the first time consciously alone, then we discover how very weak have been the resources at our command. We have been living as Elisha lived, dependent largely on the intellectual superiority and moral fervour of some great religious teacher. We have been like men trading on borrowed capital. Such a time of crisis brings its snares, and there are two temptations peculiar to it. There is (1) the suppression of personality due to vanity, and (2) the suppression of personality due to mistrust and, it may be, to imitativeness. There is danger from both these tendencies. To ignore the past is impossible, and to reach forward to grasp the heritage of the future depends on our taking our stand on the highest point to which past generations have brought us. Elisha grasped the mantle of Elijah, the legacy of the past, but he also made it his own. So it became to him a power.

III. The principle of personality is the vital principle of Christianity.—Because beneath the Christian creed an ever-living personality exists, so till He die it must live.

Bishop W. Boyd Carpenter.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Elijah’s mantle fell at the feet of Elisha. The mantle was the particular dress of the prophet, and now Elisha was to wear it. He was to take up Elijah’s work and carry it on. Ofttimes the mantle of one whose work is done falls at the feet of some young person. A father dies, and his eldest son must take up the duties which were his. A mother goes home, and on the daughter comes the care of a household. When such duties come God gives of His Spirit to help.’

(2) ‘In Westminster Abbey is a marble tablet with medallion portraits of the two Wesleys, combined, and underneath the inscription, “God buries the worker, but carries on the work.” ’

Verse 21

AT THE SPRING OF THE WATERS

‘He went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there.’

2 Kings 2:21

‘The spirit of Elijah,’ they said, ‘doth rest on Elisha.’ It was true, yet who is not struck with the difference, with the contrariety, between them? At first sight the succession is a deterioration. The glow, the rush, the genius, the inspiration, the awe, the prowess, seem to have died with the master. Viewed in one aspect, no position was ever more level, no work more human, no office less heroic, than that of Elisha. Yet it is upon this life that ‘a double portion’ of Elijah’s spirit rested. If the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elias, it was ‘Eliseus the prophet’ who dimly prefigured Christ.

There is one point peculiar to this parable, and that is the stress laid upon ‘the spring of the waters.’ ‘The water is nought, and the ground barren.’ God’s prophet goes to the spring of the waters, and casts the healing ‘salt’ in there.

I. Man might have been satisfied to deal with the symptoms: with the water and with the ground.—When the miracle is interpreted into parable, we see how infinite may be its applications. It is the parable of thoroughness. It bids us go to the spring of our disease and never rest till the antidote is at work there.

II. There are two aspects of our earthly being, each impressive, each admonitory.—The one is that which represents it as a multitude, the other that which represents it as a unit. Our life is a unit life, and this is what gives significance and solemnity to its starting. We are here at the spring of the waters, and here therefore must a more than prophet’s hand cast in the salt. The Gospel of a free forgiveness for the sake of a dying, living Lord, the Gospel of a Divine strength given in the person of an indwelling Spirit—this is the healing ‘salt,’ this is the life-giving life, for the sake of which Christ came and suffered, and died, and rose. ‘He went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there.… And the Lord said, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.’

Dean Vaughan.

Illustrations

(1) ‘If Paradise Lost is to be regained, human life must be regenerated at its springs. If evil is to be vanquished, it must be crushed in the egg; if good is to be victorious, it must be nursed from the cradle. The physical deterioration and moral degeneration, which follow in the wake of overcrowding, do not fall so heavily on the grown-up man or woman, whose character is already formed, as on the sensitive, impressionable nature of the child. In giving charity it is better to support orphanages, to endeavour to save the children, than to give indiscriminately to the grown-up beggar who solicits our alms; and it is more important that a little child should be brought up in the temperance cause than that a drunken man or woman should be reclaimed. The nation’s greatest need is the salvation of the child-life.’

(2) ‘Like most of Elisha’s miracles, this was a miracle of mercy. With the solitary exception of the act recorded at the end of the chapter—for which there must surely be some extenuating explanation—his deeds were deeds of gracious, soothing, homely beneficence, bound up with the ordinary tenour of human life. This miracle was wrought with visible means, “a new cruse and salt therein.” Nothing, after all, is so wonderful as the familiar. Facts are stubborn things. It was worked at the fountain-head. The prophet went unto the spring of the waters. It is always wise to do this. Any poisoned fountain must be healed at its source if the cure is intended to last. This is what conversion does in the soul. It makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus.’

Verse 24

THE GENTLE PROPHET’S CURSE

‘And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty-and-two children of them.’

2 Kings 2:24

I. This story teaches that the faults of our youth, and those which are most natural to us at that age, are not considered by God as trifling, but are punished by Him after the same measure as the sins of men.—Men measure faults by the harm which they do in this world, and not by the harm which they do in unfitting us for the Kingdom of God, by making us unlike God and Christ.

II. What is it that Jesus Christ means when He tells us that ‘he who is unjust in the least is unjust also in much,’ and that ‘if we have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to our trust the true riches’?—He means that when we talk of the consequences of our actions, we forget that as in one point of view the consequences of the greatest crimes that the most powerful tyrant ever committed are as the least thing in the sight of God, so in another the consequences of the common school faults of the youngest boy are infinitely great. That is important to God, and that He wills His creatures to regard as important, which is an offence against His laws, a departure from His likeness. And of this, even of sin, He has willed the consequences to be infinite, not confined to the happiness and misery of a few years, but of all eternity.

Here is the all-important reason why the faults of boyhood are so serious: because they show a temper that does not love God, and a heart unrenewed by His Holy Spirit.

—Dr. Thos. Arnold.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

There is an incident in Elisha’s history on which, as it presents some degree of difficulty and has been laid hold of by those who seek occasion against Holy Scripture, it may not be unreasonable to bestow a deliberate and sober consideration.

The incident I refer to is the treatment of the children who mocked Elisha in the outskirts of Bethel. Elisha’s conduct in this instance is not what we should have looked for: nor is it in keeping with the general benevolence of his character. They who have no reverence for God’s saints, and who judge them by what comes under their own cognisance alone, would have no scruple in ascribing it to irritation; or in speaking of the punishment which the prophet’s imprecation drew down upon the offenders as strangely disproportioned to the offence. What is the view which Christian piety would dictate?

I. First of all, it is to be observed that God heard and ratified the imprecation.—The punishment which followed was of God’s infliction. God, therefore, if we may reverently say so, made Himself responsible for the charge of severity. They who blame, blame God, not man.

Still, no doubt, the case is a perplexing one; but it is one of many in which, if we cannot give an account wholly satisfactory, we are called upon to suspend our judgments, not doubting that if we knew all the circumstances our perplexity would be removed. And this is really the feeling with which a reverential mind will regard Scripture difficulties generally. Its thoughts will be that which a loving child has in reference to the conduct of a wise parent, in whom he reposes entire confidence. Where I can discern a reason for it—or as far as I can—well and good; I rejoice to see His hand. Where I cannot, I rest with confidence on the wisdom and justice and goodness of my heavenly Father. What He does I know not now, but perhaps I shall know hereafter, and the reason why He does it. For the present I am content to walk by faith; to believe, where I do not see.

Such reflections, it is true, will afford little satisfaction to the scoffer, though a glance at the world in which he lives might convince him there is reason in them; but they will not seldom free the Christian from perplexing thoughts.

II. If we cannot discern the whole of the account which is to be given, we may at least discern some reasons which may serve to explain the severity of the punishment.—If there was one spot in the whole kingdom of Israel which more than any other had made itself obnoxious to God’s judgments. Bethel was that spot. But ‘Bethel’ had now become ‘Bethaven’—the House of Vanity, the house of naught. There Jeroboam had set up his calves—making it the great centre of that idol-worship by which the Israelites were drawn aside from the service of the God of their fathers. Bethel was, in fact, to the kingdom of the ten tribes for evil, what Jerusalem and the Temple were designed to be for the whole race of Israel for good. Need we wonder, then, that in a dispensation which was characterised by a system of temporal rewards and punishments, some signal display of God’s justice should be manifested towards such a place on the occurrence of a special occasion to call it forth? Such an occasion there was in the present instance. The scoffing cry of the children too accurately reflected the infidel and apostate spirit of their parents, and the terrible fate which befell the one was a meet chastisement of the other: a chastisement which would be felt the more keenly by those whose consciences were not seared beyond all feeling from the circumstance of the youthful age of those who were its immediate subjects. If these things were done in the green tree, it would be obvious to ask, what would be done in the dry?

There can be no doubt that the scoffing words which formed the burthen of the children’s cry referred to the ascension of Elijah, and were uttered in ridicule of the account of it which had been circulated, and as such, that they did indicate an infidel spirit, and as such were punished. But they were also a contumelious reproach directed against Elisha, and against Elisha as God’s servant, and He who said, ‘Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm,’ regarded the insult as an insult offered to Himself, and did not suffer it to go unpunished.

The fate, then, which befell these youths was to the men of their generation a protest against idolatry generally, and in particular it held out an awful warning against a scoffing spirit, especially when the objects of its ridicule are God’s servants, and still more God’s ministers.

III. And assuredly the lesson is for us also. It shows us in what light God regards such a spirit and the manifestations of it.—For it does not follow, because this or the other form of evil is suffered ordinarily to go unpunished, that it is not highly displeasing to God, and will not eventually receive that recompense which is due to it. Every lie is not visited with prompt punishment, but the fate of Ananias and Sapphira declares what God’s mind is with regard to lying; every instance of covetousness is not at once detected and exposed, but the leprosy of Gehazi has set God’s mark of reprobation upon such deeds for ever. Every instance of intemperance, or of unbridled lust, is not followed by immediate tokens of God’s displeasure; but occasionally when some startling case occurs—as when one has been hurried out of the world from a scene of debauchery, or another has been summoned to his account from a harlot’s bed—here again we are shown in what light God views such sins; and so in like manner, though every instance of ridicule directed against religion or the ministers of religion, as such, or God’s servants, as such, is not followed by speedy punishment, yet the fate which befell these youths at Bethel is a warning once for all—for us as well as for the people of their own day and generation, that sooner or later such conduct shall receive the due recompense of reward. Nor is the warning, as far as this age is concerned, a needless one.

Illustration

‘An unfortunate translation of the passage, making it read as if it were a troop of little children that were eaten by the bears, has injured the record, and misinterpreted the meaning of this righteous judgment. There is no question as to the right interpretation. It is young men, not boys and girls, who are intended. Comparing 1 Kings 3:7 and Jeremiah 1:6 we find that Solomon, when anointed king, and Jeremiah, when anointed prophet, were denominated “children” and a “little child” by the same Hebrew words here employed. They do not mean what the English idiom represents. It was not upon children, who could scarcely be supposed to know what they were doing, that the judgment fell, but upon a mob of riotous, profane, blaspheming idolaters, the worshippers of Baal and of the golden calves of Jeroboam. These young men, fresh from the orgies of the demon temple, and bent on the highest defiance of God and His chief prophet, who they knew was coming to pursue the same course that Elijah had taken before him, cried out in scorn: “Go up, thou bald head! go up, thou bald head!” and they would have continued their hootings had not God’s vengeance interposed. But God converted what they intended should be a procession of demoniac yellings and opprobrium (for doubtless they were cheered on by the vile rabble) into such retributive wrath and wailing as shot terror into the hearts of the inhabitants. It would be a long time from that day forward before the young men, or the priests, or the prophets of Baal, would dare attempt another mob, or another insolent defiance of God’s preachers and seers, protected by the vengeance of such miracles. As Dr. Cheever observes: “The she-bears from the wilderness were fit symbols of Jezebel’s cruelty, who had slain so many of God’s prophets.” ’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Kings 2". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/2-kings-2.html. 1876.