Bears. Belthashazzar. Battle of Armageddon. I had a lot of B options, but I decided that Bears were the most hilarious. One of the strangest miraculous occurrences of the times of the Hebrew Prophets is when a man named Elisha gets made fun of for being bald. It’s not the kind of story you hear all that often.
“From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ they said. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.” (2 Kings 2:23-25 NIV)
The prophets of the Old Testament were hardcore. They were not people you took lightly and they carried some serious spiritual clout and juice. When someone said they spoke for God, other people tended to take them deadly serious or the learned a little something about the fear of the Lord. What I found so weird about this particular encounter is just how off the wall it seems. I mean, the guy summons bears. The prophet who taught him was more famous for calling fire down from the heavens on people, but I guess bears work too. The young men that these bears mauled probably should have known better than to pick on the guy who learned from the original caster of Flame Strike, but I doubt they expected quite this response.
There is something about breaking archetypes and expectations and having your own flavor to what you do. Elisha was a very different prophet from Elijah (the man who preceded him). Both men spoke for God to the people of Israel, both men performed miracles of healing and provision, and both guys were a little sensitive (Elijah is also known for becoming depressed to the point of praying for his own death after being threatened by the king of Israel and Elisha just cursed some young men for jeering at him). But Elijah, who had a strong fire motif around what he did, was a very different prophet from Elisha. This particular wonder that Elisha preforms is in a completely different genre of action that would highlight a very different dimension of God’s character. Where Elijah demonstrated God’s power over fire and over rain, Elisha demonstrated a God who was also Lord of animals and predatory beasts. It also demonstrates that He doesn’t take kindly to people mocking His champions. There is something kind of cool about the specific message that comes across from this subtle difference in how the two prophets functioned. Although I’m not sure those young men appreciated it as much. So think about the subtle twists you can put on the archetypes that communicate themes and distinctions of your game beyond bare exposition.