Child - 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 Kings 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; 1 Sam. 1:22-24; Matt. 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; 1 Sam. 2:5; 2 Sam. 6:23; Ps. 127:3; 128:3).
Figuratively the name is used for those who are ignorant or narrow-minded (Matt. 11:16; Luke 7:32; 1 Cor. 13:11). "When I was a child, I spake as a child." "Brethren, be not children in understanding" (1 Cor. 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 (Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). Believers are "children of light" (Luke 16:8; 1 Thess. 5:5) and "children of obedience" (1 Pet. 1:14).
Previous topic: Chiefs of Asia
Next topic: Chileab
Return to Bible Dictionary Main Index
Additional essential Bible study tools: