- Bethel was the capital city of Ephraim. Elijah the prophet is accosted by a group of youthful, insolent scoffers from Bethel. These reflect our present American generation that, in the majority, mock and ridicule all aspects of faith in the Living God.
- In judgment, two bears maul the youths. Ephraim’s iniquity has been his undoing once before: in 726 BC when the northern kingdom, called the ‘House of Israel’, led by Ephraim, was conquered by Assyria, taken captive and disappeared into the mists of history for millennia. Assyria was the first of these bears. The second bear prefigures the Russian bear of our day in Dan 7:5.
- Curiously, we are given the exact count of the youths that were mauled. Since no detail of scripture is without depth and purpose, this seemingly random statistic has import. Today, Ephraim/USA is composed of 50 states, children or ‘youths’ of Bethel/Washington DC. This is the ‘company of nations’ prophesied in Gen 35:11. If forty-two are mauled, it would leave six contiguous states relatively unscathed. We should expect the six to be among those that are resisting the relentless federal pressure to outlaw biblical precepts and approve their mockery and ridicule.
Compare the six cities of refuge in ancient Israel.
- Further, Elijah’s bears are explicitly identified as female. Here, another ‘minor’ detail, serves as a vital connecting dot to Hosea’s bear, which he describes as being enraged at the loss of her cubs.
2Ki 2:23 Then he [Elijah] went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”
2Ki 2:24 So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.