Great Engraving of the Day: The Children Destroyed by Bears

If you went to an Extraordinary Form Mass last weekend, you would have heard the end of 2 Kings, chapter 2, wherein a prophet encounters a number of youths, curses them, and watches as they are brutally mauled by bears. Christianity can be fun!

This is one place in the Bible where varying translations can yield great results.

Here’s the King James Version of 2 Kings 2:23-24:

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. 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.

The New International Version tells us the bears “mauled” the boys while the NET Bible says the bears “ripped forty-two of the boys to pieces.” Young’s Literal Bible, which I have never heard of, hilariously describes the scene thus: “And he looketh behind him, and seeth them, and declareth them vile in the name of Jehovah, and two bears come out of the forest, and rend of them forty and two lads.”

Art and Liturgy - That Escalated Quickly.jpg

Puzzlingly, this story has not been painted very often, but I did find a wood engraving by Gustave Doré that dates from 1866.

Art and Liturgy - The Children Destroyed by Bears - Gustave Dore 1866 Engraving