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 tore forty and two of the youths.
All Commentaries on 2 Kings 2:24 Go To 2 Kings 2
Ephrem The Syrian
“He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” After Elisha had settled the matters concerning his disciples in Jericho, he moved to his dwelling place in Bethel, and during his journey the facts, which the Scripture places here, happened to him. It seems that the impudence of the children resulted from the teaching of their parents, because they were iniquitous and hostile to Elijah and all his disciples. And we may also think that they had been sent by their masters to repeat what they had learned. The word proclaimed according to Elisha by the disciples of Elijah, their fellow citizens, with regard to the ascension of their master grieved the people of Bethel a great deal. That is why, I suppose, those children did not only mention his baldness but also found further insults, which they said before him to outrage his fame, so that nobody might believe his word, if he repeated in Bethel what he had told and about which he had convinced many people in Jericho. In fact, they had meditated on this evil thought and said, “This is the reason for his coming.” Now, Elisha, even though he was upset by the effrontery of the children, was much more enraged by the craftiness and the iniquities of their parents, and he corrected both by a harsh and terrible sentence: he punished the former, so that they might not add to their iniquity by growing up to adulthood; the latter, so that they might be corrected and cease from their wickedness. He, who had blessed the children of Jericho and benefited them to the highest degree for their faith, because, after seeing that he had divided the Jordan through his word, they had said that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha, decreed this bitter sentence against the people of Bethel. Indeed, the people of Bethel did not believe, when they heard from children of prophets who were in their city, the news of the ascension of Elijah.
“Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.” On the day the Lord sent Elijah to anoint Elisha, he said that he would have taken revenge through him on the children of Israel, who had revolted against him, that is, those who escaped from the sword of Hazael and Jehu, Elisha would have caused to perish. This is, therefore, the beginning of the punishment: the word pronounced against the iniquitous began to be fulfilled.