Originally Posted by barney
Peace be upon those who follow the guidance,
let's ask the Jews!
From Artscroll & Mesorah Publishing: The Rubin Edition THE PROPHETS I-II Kings
The Early Prophets With A Commentary Anthologized From The Rabbinical Writings by Rabbi Nosson Scherman c 2006.
23-25. Elisha is taunted and responds harshly
. Elisha retraced the route he traveled with Elijah, crossing the Jordan, going to Jericho, and now to Beth-el. There he was mocked and he reacted by calling the wrath of god upon the perpetrators...
23. Go on up, Baldhead! Go on up, Baldhead!
The rued lads mock the prophet, not simply because he was bald, but because they compared him unfavorably with the majestic-looking Elijah, who was hairy (1:8). Their taunts implied that he was unfit to succeed the great prophet (Metzudos
). In the words of Rabbeinu Yonah
, one joke can undermine the effects of a hundred admonitions. If permitted to spread, the derisive attitude of the youths would have undermined Elisha's prestige and therefore his ability to carry out god's mission.
Their mockery was, "If you are truly as great as Elijah, prove it by going up to heaven as he did" (Arbarbanel
cites the Sages (Sotah
46b) that they did not mean that Elisha was bald. Rather they were angry that he deprived them of their livelihood. They had earned a living by delivering fresh water to Jericho. Now, by curing the polluted water( 2:19-22), Elisha made Jericho "bald" in the sense that it was no longer a source of income for the water-bearers.
The Talmud infers..he went up
, in the singular, that Elisha had not been escorted by the elders or anyone else from Jericho. Had they walked with him, as they should have, the youths would not have dared malign the prophet, and they would not have been devoured by the bears. This teaches that those who fail to escort travelers and travelers who refuse to let anyone accompany them can be held responsible for bloodshed.
24 Saw them and cursed them.
. Elisha did not curse them until he saw
them, meaning that with his prophetic vision, he recognized that they were evil and worthy of punishment (Ralbag
). He saw prophetically that they came from evil origins and that no good would come from them or their posterity; otherwise he would not have cursed them (Sotah
In the Name of Hashem
. By invoking the Name of god, Elisha was placing the final decision in God's hands, as if to say that it was for him to determine whether and how the impudent lads should be punished.
Clearly God's holy prophet would not have transgressed the prohibition against taking revenge, especially for such a trivial offense. Rather, by ridiculing him and his miracle of the curing of the water, these youths were ridiculing God Who designated Elisha as His prophet and who had performed the miracle. Also, as mentioned above, they were undermining Elisha's ability to influence the people and their leaders to repent. By calling for Divine punishment, Elisha was proving to the nation that their criticism had no basis (Rabbi Y.Y. Kanievsky
Two bears emerged from the forest.
There are two opinions amongst the Sages. According to Rav, there had been no bears in the forest before then. Miraculously, the bears now appeared in response to Elisha's prayer. According to Shmuel, there was neither a forest nor bears. Thus, a double miracle had occurred: both the forest and the wild bears were created there (Sotah
For being the cause of the forty-two lads being killed, Elisha was punished later with a painful illness (Radak
25. Elisha performed a miracle in each of the places where he had gone with Elijah. Elisha split the Jordan, cured the waters of Jericho, and brought bears to punish the offending youths in Beth-el. Then he visited places where God had performed miracles for Elijah. Then he went to Samaria to undertake his new mission (Arbarbanel
Chapter 3 introduction leads of with:
Elisha becomes the leading prophet and miracle worker
. Elisha's plea for a great degree of prophetic and spiritual stature had been granted, and had begun to be demonstrated through the miracles related in the previous chapter (2). Now Scripture will report on further miraculous occurrences that would solidify Elisha's claim to the obedience of those who seriously interested in coming closer to God...
does that help?