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Mauled? - 42 were mauled by 2 she-bears! Was my son?

'Whaaat did you say?' shouted the towncrier. '40?... NO?... about 30?... About 30 youth were mauled by 2 she-bears!.... Oh, no! WAS MY SON AMONG THEM? ...Was MY SON mauled?', asked the town crier.

'I really can't tell.' was the reply. 'I just don't know.'

'Tell me what happened! Please...tell me HE was not among them,' the towncrier pleaded with the young messenger witness.

'Last I know is that I saw your son running into the nearby forest.' The breathless youth quickly told the towncrier most of what he knew.

So the crier announced in his mighty voice:
'Hear ye, hear ye, a young messenger came and said that about 30 of our town's youth were mauled by two she-bears on our road between Jericho and Bethel.'

Then there were more questions--
(This particular story started with inspiration regarding: 2Kings 2:21-25)

'Was anyone else there or nearby?'
'Yes. Elisha was there, who is said to be a prophet.'

In the previous few days, Elisha had proclaimed that he healed the waters in Jericho. When the animals had drunk this "healed water", they did not die anymore. People debated. Would all the "water" problems, including infertility and miscarriages stop? Time would surely tell.
(This is what the Lord says: 'I make this water pure, and it will not cause any more deaths or miscarriages.' English
Der Herr sagt: „Ich mache dieses Wasser wieder gesund; es wird niemand mehr den Tod bringen und keine Fehlgeburten mehr verursachen." German) 2Ki 2:21
Since Elisha felt he had to leave for Bethel, he left Jericho. He had "no time to stay" anymore.

A gang of youth, boys really, ambushed him on the road! They had come out of their town. There were so many...50?...60?...maybe a 100?

Over the years they had swarmed travellers like bees, took their treasures and gave them insults. More often than not, they didn't care and left their victims to die in misery or in the 'best scenario' to continue on their way without food or water on foot. Sometimes they did not know they had hurt someone so badly that that person really had died.

Oh, they would surely keep doing this again and again! They liked the power they had over others. They found pleasures in other activities too--they liked seeing how people reacted when they were called names! or worse!

"Baldy, baldy!" they called Elisha.
Glatzkopf! Glatzkopf! German
Testa pelata! Italian
Pelado! Spanish
Tondu! (Chauve) French
Tèt chòv! Haitian
That ought to have done it. Other times they had called, 'Shorty or darky or baby or fool....or other such words. They didn't realize it was fine to be bald or short or dark or innocent or trusting. If they were told otherwise, they surely did not seem to remember.

Elisha talked to them. He outlined for them human choices and ultimate ends. He urged them to listen, 'Let me go. Don't do this.'

Elisha prayed.

"Oh, Lord! I have prayed many times before. I even saw Elijah being taken up to heaven. Elijah had said that if I did see him leave, that meant that my heart's desire would be granted--and that I would receive Elijah's power.

Well, Lord, I NEED your wisdom HERE and NOW in this situation. Is it my time to die or to be taken up?

I know that I am not the only and last gang victim. Have mercy, Lord! You know that I want these young men to choose YOU! You know what is in their hearts.

Lord, help me prevent more victimization. Lord, if any of these youth chooses to do right, don't tarry to have mercy on him.

Lord, if any of these chooses to curse, let that curse come on him and not on others. Help me, deliver us all and rescue me!'

The taunting continued,
'Ha, ha, Baldy! What are you mumbling? Get out of here! Move upward! You certainly don't have what we are looking for! No gold. No treasures. Wait. See those bears in the woods?...Don't they look cute?...Well,... let them tear you,...yes YOU, to pieces!'

Elisha glared at them.

The leader encouraged the others:
'Come on, gang members, let's get the bears going, so they will go after this man!'

Elisha glared at each one in turn.

One of the gang members spoke up. 'Oh, I wish you would just shut up. What has he done to deserve this? I hear the water in Jericho was not drinkable. He HEALED the water. The sheep are not DYING! Don't you fear anything?'

Another gang member said, "He IS a true prophet!"

Most still mocked Elisha and goaded the bears towards him.

Elisha turned around, just glared at those and cursed them in the name of the Lord. (2Ki 2:part of 24)
Elisha drehte sich um, sah sie scharf an und verfluchte sie im Namen des Herrn. German
El se dio vuelta, los vio y los maldijo en nombre de Yavé. Spanish
2 she-bears came out of the woods. They had left their cubs.
Elisha glared at them. The animals left him alone.
Those that defended Elisha with their words, had no more time to persuade anyone. Some of them put their hands straight up. (Did they know that they looked more impressive and calming to the bears, since they were less threatening and more defenceless?) The bears backed off. And then the defenders hid!
The woods seemed a good place. At least there were trees to climb and places to hide.
They could also hide in very narrow passages between rocks.
Where else could they run to? Was there a well to jump into and hide? A well where travellers refreshed themselves?

The remaining gang members were torn to pieces. The bears had not killed for food. No, they felt very threatened and killed those they knew from instinct were harmful to them.

It turned out Elisha was fine. A passer-by cared and asked to help.
As soon as he could, Elisha went on his way to Mount Carmel.

When people heard what happened from the towncrier, there was commotion to see if any help could be offered. And there were many questions!

One of the gang members, who was brought home, told the townspeople this story.
"I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God.
I deserve what happened to me! I was one of the gang members.
He waited for me like a bear.
He pounced on me.
He chased me off the road.
...tore me to pieces,
and left me!

I remembered though that the Lord is merciful.
I remembered what I was taught since I was small.
I prayed,
'Lord, let your mercy not be hidden by your anger!
Have mercy on me!
I was wrong! I sinned. Forgive me.
I cried out to the Lord. Hope returned.
My eyes now flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people, my friends. I will warn others, especially my children when I have some.
Ohh, many were mauled and died! I could hear them scream! Tell me, how many died?'

The townspeople answered.
'42 were mauled and killed. The families of the 42 boys miss them!'

More questions.
'What happened to Elisha?'

'Elisha is now all right. When he left, he went to Mount Carmel. He plans to return to Samaria.'

Parents were asking,
'Was my son one of the 42?'

The witnesses who came upon the tragic scene, the witnesses who cleaned up the place of ambush and the witnesses who buried the dead answered as best as they could.

Sometimes families were shown things that were on the bodies...then some of them knew bad news.

Other witnesses came forward, because the boys had often behaved cruelly in other ways.
One came forward, pointed at one gang member and said,
"HE rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on the gravel."
Er hat mich in den Stuab gedrückt und mich gezwungen, Kies zu kauen. German
Me revolcó en la ceniza. Quebró mis dientes con una piedra. Spanish
Mi ha schiacciato nella polvere e mi ha fatto sbattere i denti sulla sabbia. Italian
Li froté tout figi-m atè, li fè-m kasè dan-m nan ròch. Haitian
words from another situation: Lam 3:16
The former gang members who were left changed their ways. They kept praying for all...especially the townspeople, the victims and...
of all people...the very young children of some of the gang members.
All the families, and especially those who grieved over their mauled sons, now asked another questions,
'How can we make sure our other children will not be the same?'
'Did our youth father any children before he died...that we don't know of?'
'Do we have grandchildren we don't know about?'

There were more clues and more stories. Young women came forward or were sought out.
The father of their child was no more. Some of the young women said, 'He promised to marry me.' Or 'He was just a friend.' Sometimes they said, 'I didn't know him very well. I had just met him.' They accused some gang members of rape.

Other young people said, 'I could have been there that day. I could have been mauled. I had planned to go ambushing. I have been given another chance!'

How could all of this happen? How could the bad have been prevented? Part of the answer is that the townspeople should have prayed for their community. They needed to warn the would be followers with cautionary tales. They should not have let the young people get the way they were one step at a time, by ignoring them or doing nothing when they did wrong. Parents should remember their own life choices and sins.

"Listen, my son, my daughter, to your father's instructions.
And do not forsake your mother's teaching. (Proverbs 1:8-19)
My son, my daughter, if sinners entice you,
do not give in to them.
If they say, "Come along with us,
let's lie in wait for someone's blood,
let's waylay some harmless soul;
let's swallow them alive, like the grave
and whole, like those who go down to the pit,
We will get all sorts of valuable things and
fill our houses with plunder;
Throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse"
My son, my daughter,
DO NOT GO ALONG WITH THEM!!!
Do not set foot on their paths!
For their feet rush into sin,
they are swift to shed blood (including yours!).
These men lie in wait for their own blood,
THEY WAYLAY ONLY THEMSELVES!!
Such is THE END of all who go after ill-gotten gain.
It takes away the lives of those who get it.

Remember: Our teachings...
They will be a garland to GRACE your head
and a chain to ADORN your neck.
'Throw in your lot with us...your caring parents.'
Remember:
How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds!
Yeah, how useless to spread a net of ambush in full view of all the travellers! They do talk to each other!!!

They can avoid our city altogether and we can not trade and prosper.
They can travel in big groups, figure out where the good places to hide are and ambush the ambushers.
They can go to court. They can seek revenge and hunt those that had hurt their loved ones.
They can poison our wells.
I'm sure you can thing of other scenarios."

The various families dealt with their loss in many ways.
Some families lost their son and never accepted that fact. Some families lost their son, grieved, but gained their son's girlfriend and friends as "other" children.
Some families broke apart.
Some families lost their son, but gained a grandchild.
The Lord gave them all new chances to LIVE!
Lord, have mercy on all families. Heal our families that are threatened by divorce, busyness, ignoring, abuse of power and more.
Prevent gang violence in any form. Change the desire to do evil to the desire to do what is in your plan.
Teach us how to pray for all children, "our" children.
Holy Spirit, groan with us when we have no words to express what we need to pray about. Be with communities and parents who fear for their children.
Amen.