Child

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This word has considerable latitude of meaning in Scripture. Thus Joseph is called a child at the time when he was probably about sixteen years of age (Gen 37:3); and Benjamin is so called when he was above thirty years (44:20). Solomon called himself a little child when he came to the kingdom (1 Kg 3:7).

The descendants of a man, however remote, are called his children; as, "the children of Edom," "the children of Moab," "the children of Israel."

In the earliest times mothers did not wean their children till they were from thirty months to three years old; and the day on which they were weaned was kept as a festival day (Gen 21:8; Ex 2:7, 9; 1Sam 1:22-24; Mt 21:16). At the age of five, children began to learn the arts and duties of life under the care of their fathers (Deut 6:20-25; 11:19).

To have a numerous family was regarded as a mark of divine favour (Gen 11:30; 30:1; 1Sam 2:5; 2 Sam 6:23; Ps 127:3; 128:3).

Figuratively the name is used for those who are ignorant or narrow-minded (Mt 11:16; Lk 7:32; 1Cor 13:11). "When I was a child, I spake as a child." "Brethren, be not children in understanding" (1Cor 14:20). "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro" (Eph 4:14).

Children are also spoken of as representing simplicity and humility (Mt 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17). Believers are "children of light" (Lk 16:8; 1Thess 5:5) and "children of obedience" (1 Pet 1:14).


This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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