According to the Bible God sent two female bears to kill 42 children.
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But laying speculation aside, I think the best explanation was that it was done because Elisha was a prophet and prophets were given certain authorities. To understand this you must understand why the prophets were sent. Israel asked for a king when God was leading them, but in the end God allowed it. The prophets were God's mouth piece to speak to the King and nation. The king's did not always listen to the prophets because the kings were now viewed as the highest authority in the country and therefore God gave the prophets certain authorities so that the people will listen when they speak. It's like the Police force in any country. The officers are there to uphold the laws and wishes of the rulers. If the officers had no authority then what would prompt anyone to fear and respect them and keep the law? If a police officer cannot arrest you and jail you if you did something wrong by disobeying the law then what would be the purpose of having a police force? In the same way mocking a prophet of God shows that the children had no respect for the law and the Law giver. That would be equivalent to walking up to any countries leader and telling him to his face he is a fake and that you laugh at his authority and the nation he represents. I think in all cases that will be considered treason and depending on the country may result in the death of the mocker.
Treason is mostly considered enough reason to give the death penalty or the severest punishment possible a country can give even today. Considering this, why then would that be a problem in Elisha's time or a problem to understand today? Terrorist's attack countries, killing innocent people, not caring about or respecting other the other nations authority and laws. People who have a problem with Elisha cursing children that gets killed because they broke the law should also have a problem with retaliating against and persecuting law breakers. The people did not have an excuse either because they were warned to fear the prophets of God. So here we have another principle. The children were not so innocent as you would think. They were warned of old, they knew the law but chose to ignore it any way. That's like a kid stealing his father's car, getting drunk and losing his life in an accident. The kid knew he should not steal, he knew he should not drink and drive but he did it anyway and lost his life. Do you feel sorry for that kid? Do you think he deserved what happened to him? After all he brought it upon himself, didn't he?
As for the character of God part, I do not really see why that would explain the character of God.
First, to the best of my knowledge all miracles that prophet perform are through God. That God is the one responsible for the miracles, in this case the bears. Second the Bible uses the word children, so therefore children are children. Impact, I have shown that God sent the bears, and that children are children. Thus fulfilled my burden of proof.
Pro seems to assume the children referred too are very young. This makes the situation look very unreasonable that young innocent children would be killed. The text he refers to does not state how young they were and the facts are that children are not always that innocent.
But let me entertain Pro"s conclusions and make some of my own. As stated before, there are many details that were left out. The sending of the bears would suggest that the children were out to kill Elisha. Killing in self defense is not considered wrong or evil. So let"s take it in that perspective, you have 42 children out to mock and kill one man for no apparent reason, a man who just helped a village and were just trying to go about his own business. Considering this the 42 children do not look as innocent and undeserving of punishment as you would think now do they?
While I was doing my service in the army we were shown footage of events that took place as a part of our Riot training. I remember 3 young children, aged between 6 " 9 years old, taking turns to throw a rock against an elderly persons head until the man eventually died. This took about 30 to 50 minutes before the person passed away. Do you think these youths deserve to be eaten by a bear?
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