If you’ve every wondered whether God and his prophets have a sense of humour, wonder no further. Harken to the word . . .
23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 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.
25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.
Apparently, having your bald head insulted was too much for Elisha who was on his way from Jericho to Bethel. He calls on God to do his worse and God puts on quite a show indeed.
The quote is from the King James version of the Bible. In the New American Version, the word “children” is substituted with “young lads” but the story is the same. This is, I suppose, to make the punishment of having a bear tear forty-two kids apart seem a little less harsh. The religiously squeamish (e.g. many Catholics) can point to the verse and say, “See? they weren’t children. More like teenagers.” and somehow that makes the punishment fit the crime.
Yes, God so loved the little children that he had them torn apart by a wild beast. Sorry, I meant teenagers. And Elisha? He was obviously very sensitive about his bald head and God could see that. Rather than performing the miracle of growing some new hair for the guy, or maybe a thicker skin, he chooses to unleash vengeance with razor sharp teeth and claws. That’ll teach ’em.