When Elisha curses the children who were mocking him (2 Kings 2:23-24), the Hebrew uses Strongs H1234 -- בָּקַע baqa` -- to describe what the bears did to the 42 of them they caught. Most often this word is translated "rip," "cleave," "rend," or something along those lines. What I'm trying to decide is whether this necessarily means the attack was fatal. To my (admittedly very inexpert) eye, it seems at least questionable whether the children were put to death or not.
A search on H1234 shows it's most commonly used with something inanimate as the object. In this and six other instances, the object is a person or people (2 Kings 8:12, 15:16; 2 Chronicles 25:12; Hosea 13:8, 13:16; Amos 1:13). Now in all of those other six instances, the context (acts of war, judgment from God) does make it pretty clear that the injuries are fatal. Hosea 13:8 is particularly relevant because God's warning, "...like a lion I will devour them -- a wild animal will tear them apart," is directed against Israelites who persist in idolatry.
The question that remains though (to me) is whether this same judgment would likewise be directed against children who are mocking a prophet. Coming back to 2 Kings 2:24, the context doesn't have the same clarity as to the deadly intentions or the end result of the attack. I also note that the text does not use H2026 (הָרַג harag), H4191 (מוּת muwth), H5221 (נָכָה nakah), which seem to be the most common words to describe a killing.
Am I right that there's some ambiguity here?