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When Elisha is jeered by youths in 2 Kings 2:23-25 he is told (as many translations have it) to "Go up" or "Go on up". The new NIV (2011) renders this as "Get out of here." Is this a fair translation of the idiom? What were the young boys telling Elisha to do? To go on up to Bethel? To go on up to heaven like Elijah? Is it just an idiom for "Get out of here?"

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The full text of the verse is:

וַיַּ֥עַל מִשָּׁ֖ם בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל וְה֣וּא ׀ עֹלֶ֣ה בַדֶּ֗רֶךְ וּנְעָרִ֤ים קְטַנִּים֙ יָצְא֣וּ מִן־הָעִ֔יר וַיִּתְקַלְּסוּ־בוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ ל֔וֹ עֲלֵ֥ה קֵרֵ֖חַ עֲלֵ֥ה קֵרֵֽחַ׃ (Melakhim II 2:23, Westminster Leningrad Codex)

And he went up from thence unto Beth-el; 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 baldhead; go up, thou baldhead.' (Melakhim II 2:23, JPS 1917 Translation)

As can be seen, Elisha was literally going up, as the path sloped upwards, so the children did not mean anything by saying "go up"; the mocking was just of the fact Elisha was bald.

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God's prophet Elisha was bald. After he had succeeded to the prophetic office of Elijah, he was proceeding uphill from Jericho toward Bethel when he was mocked by a mob of children who cried: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” The primary reason for their jeers seems to have been not that Elisha was bald but that they saw a bald man wearing Elijah’s familiar official garment. They did not want any successor of Elijah around. He should either keep going his way up to Bethel or ascend in a windstorm to the heavens as the former wearer of that official garment had done. (2Ki 2:11) To answer this challenge of his being Elijah’s successor and to teach these young people and their parents proper respect for God’s prophet, Elisha called down evil upon the jeering mob in the name of the God of Elijah. It was a test of his prophetship. God manifested his approval of Elisha by causing two she-bears to come out of the nearby woods and to tear to pieces 42 of them.—2Ki 2:23, 24.

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There are several nuances and allusions in this text with reference to Joshua and Elijah. One able commentator who has provided an excellent summary of these comparisons was Jesse Long in his commentary of 1 & 2 Kings.

Long, Jesse C. (2002). 1 & 2 Kings. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub., 296-297.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Please include a summary of the relevant portion. This alone is insufficient. – Dan May 9 '15 at 5:18

This passage suggests that perhaps this young people were false prophets of Baal. The challenge, registered in colloquial language of the time, meant that if Elisha was really a great prophet of God, should ascend to heaven like Elijah. The "bald" adjective may be an allusion associated with the lepers who were shaving their heads as a sign of their status as unclean.

It is also possible that the behavior of this young people potentially involve more than a harmless joke. I mean the real possibility that this group had the intention of using violence against Elisha. In that case, the act of God is justified in order to protect his prophet (from maybe hundreds of them being 42 only the killed) and ensure the development of His plan.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. – Mark Edward Apr 8 '15 at 22:00
The problem is this only shows a range of opinion as to what the passage "suggests", "may be", "also possible", "maybe hundreds": rather than a well-supported explanation of the passage. – Dick Harfield Apr 9 '15 at 6:40
I think you can benefit a lot if you see the kind of answers that this site is looking for. – Paul Vargas Apr 9 '15 at 7:06
Thanks for your comments. This was my first answer ever since I discover Biblical Hermeneutics yesterday and I appreciate your input. – Gilberto Ramos Apr 9 '15 at 14:03

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