Miracles related to the Defeat of Enemies: Bears from the Woods; Defeat of the Moabites; Confusion of the Syrians, and Capture of the Whole Syrian Army.
Miracle #3, Bears from the Woods, is a fascinating miracle executed by Elisha early in his ministry. Let’s present it first, then analyze it. It is found in 2 Kings 2:23-25.
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.
So, a group of children insulted the prophet, calling him bald head. He then cursed them, and a couple of she-bears tore up forty-two of them. At first glance, this may seem like a heartless and mean thing for the prophet to do. But Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible offers some insight, although controversial and different from the understanding of many, into this situation. This reference note is found on p. 668, i and j.
- naar, a child from the age of infancy to adolescence. It generally implies youth, but not always, for the word is used of Isaac when 28 yrs. old (Gen. 22:5), of Joseph when 39 years old (Gen. 41:12), and of Rehoboam when fully grown (2 Chr. 13:7). Here the little children were the infidel young men of Bethel who were worshippers of the golden calf instead of Jehovah. It was God who sent the bears, and we have to believe that the offenders were worthy of such judgment.
- The term bald head had no special reference to lack of hair, according to some authorities; it signified a worthless fellow. It was a term of contempt. Here it was qual to blasphemy of God, for the young men mocked Elisha as a prophet of Jehovah, in contemptuous allusion to the translation of Elijah which they no doubt denied and made fun of. The idea seems to be: Go up (be translated) like Elijah, you worthless fellow!
So, following the curse of Elisha, two she-bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two of the children. In spite of the fact that we do not know the age of the children or whether or not Elisha was really bald headed, there are three profound lessons to be learned from this miracle:
- God will always back up his Word and His prophets. Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm (Psalms 105:15).
- For those who want to get “upset” or “all confused” about this situation, we must remember that God sent the bears, so they deserved it. End of story.
- God’s ways are His ways. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD (Is.55:8).
The next miracle in the Defeat of Enemies group is Miracle #5, Defeat of the Moabites, found in 2 Kings 3;18-20; 25-27.
18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.
19 And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.
20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
We alluded to this miracle in Lesson Four, Water Filling Ditches without Water, when three Kings were told to dig ditches that would be filled with water without rain. It is essential to note that the defeat of the Moabites, just as Elisha prophesied, was a separate miracle in its own right. Verses 25-27 demonstrate that it happened, just as Elisha said it would happen. (We have also previously discussed the last two verses and the unconscionable behavior of the King of Moab in the sacrifice of his son in Lesson Four.)
25 And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.
26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not.
27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.
Lesson learned: When a true Prophet speaks, believe it. It will happen.
The next miracle performed by Elisha concerning the defeat of the enemies is #26 Confusion of the Syrians. It is found in 2 Kings 7:6-8.
Just before this passage in 2 Kings 7:3-5, we learn of the story of four leprous men outside of the city of Samaria because of the medical condition that they had called Leprosy. They decided to go into the camp of the Syrians because of the remote possibility that they might receive some help from them. They decided the worst the Syrians could do to them was kill them. They further agreed that they would die anyway if they didn’t at least try. Their decision to move forward rather than sitting until they died was the best decision they could have made.
3 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?
4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.
5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there.
As the leprous men approached the camp, they discovered that there was no one there. The reason that the Syrians were gone is explained in 2 Kings 7:6-8.
6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.
7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.
8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it.
The Lord caused the Syrians to be confused. Mental confusion is also known as delirium or a change in a person’s awareness. According to the free dictionary, it is a mental state characterized by unclear and disorderly thought and behavior.
In their confusion, the Syrians ran, leaving tents, horses, and donkeys. They had to be confused to run away by foot, leaving horses and donkeys behind. The Syrians heard the noise of chariots, horses, and even a great host and they ran for their lives. They even decided that the King of Israel had aligned himself with the kings of the Hittites and Egyptians to come against them. (This miracle occurred to fulfill a prophecy of Elisha concerning the end of the famine which will be explained in the final lesson, Miraculous Utterances.)
- When the Lord is on your side, your enemy cannot win. No weapon formed against you can prosper.
- Moving forward is far better than sitting still until death overtakes you.
The final miracle in this lesson related to the Defeat of Enemies is Elisha’s Capture of the entire Syrian Army, found in 2 Kings chapter 6:19-22. The King of Syria was distraught because each time he made plans to defeat the Israelites, Elisha warned the King of Israel and defeated the plans. The Syrian King was told that it was Elisha who revealed his plans to the King of Israel, so he decided to kill Elisha. He sent a host of soldiers to capture him, but Elisha had them struck blind (see Lesson #5 Miracles Related to Eyes). Elisha then told the Syrian troop that he would lead them to where they should go.
19 And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.
The troop that was sent to capture Elisha allowed him to lead them. They blindly followed him to the very city of their enemy, Samaria. Elisha prayed when they arrived in Samaria, and their eyes were opened. (See Lesson Five: Miracles related to Eyes). Lo and behold, they were in the hands of the Israelites. 2 Kings 6:20-22 says:
20 And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.
21 And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?
22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.
This situation could have turned out very badly for the Syrians. As a matter of fact, the King of Israel actually asked Elisha if he should smite or strike them. He was fully prepared to beat them badly. But Elisha’s response was different than one might expect in a warlike situation. He told the King, “No, don’t do that. You would not beat them up if you had taken prisoners with your sword or bow and arrows.” Instead, he told him to feed them and then set them free. The king of Israel did as Elisha instructed. His setting the Syrians free made it apparent that Syria was the cause of the war, not Israel. As a result, the goodness on the part of the Israelites made the Syrians ashamed of themselves, and they went no more to war against Israel for quite a while.
- Through the Word of Knowledge, Elisha knew the plans of the Syrian King and used that information to his own advantage and that of his King. God gave us spiritual gifts to be used by the Saints. Let us not neglect our gifts.
- Elisha used wisdom and was able to capture an entire army singlehandedly. One man or woman can do great things when God’s hand is upon them.
- The kindness and compassion exhibited by Elisha and the King of Israel caused the Syrians to cease troubling Israel for a season. “Kill” your enemies with kindness.