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In 1 Samuel 1:24 we read:

After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh.

So, how old was Samuel when Hannah took him to the temple?

Somebody said that that Samuel was 3 year old. Is there any proof?

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@IonicaBizau Good question, the Bible doesn't spell out how long 'weaning is', so we must decide from context what it must be. –  Tau Apr 21 '14 at 4:09
@user2479 Thanks! rob's answer explained. :-) –  Ionică Bizău Apr 21 '14 at 15:33
Please give sources for who are making these claims. Saying, "somebody said...", "most think..." means nothing without any examples of anyone who actually think that. –  Dan Apr 22 '14 at 2:11
@Daи My mother told me that she found in a book this idea, but she doesn't remember the name of that book. –  Ionică Bizău Apr 22 '14 at 19:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I think when you understand how Jewish custom works you will understand there has been some misunderstanding as to exsactly what weaning meant back then. Not the way we understand it today. In Jewish custom there are two meanings for weaning.

The first meaning is the time a baby finishes drinking his mother’s breast milk. Today, that meaning is the most common understanding of weaning. But in Bible culture there was another meaning.

A child was considered weaned when he not only stopped drinking his mother’s milk, but after his mother taught him the milk of the Word of God. The mother would spend much time teaching her child the basics about God. Isn’t that beautiful? She would feed her child both physical food and spiritual food.

Weaning from the breast milk varied and it was generally around eight months to a year. Weaning from the milk of the Word lasted until around five or six years old. Scientists have discovered the incredible development of a child in ages 2 to 5. It is a very important time in a child’s life. No wonder they put forth the effort to instill the basic understanding of God in their children.

So many say around 6 years old.


•Manners and Customs of the Bible

•The New Manners and Customs of the Bible

•Eastern Eye

Quote from Bible ;

"How old was Samuel when he was weaned? To wean is to give up his mother's breast—child does this 8-9 months after birth.Do you leave the child in the temple to abide there after this? It takes about five years after weaning for the child to stand by himself. In the East, to wean is not just togive milk, buttogive the milkofthe Word. This is why the children sleep with the mother until she teaches them the milk of the Word. The mother gives the promise when she is married thatshe'll teach the child. They don't send her child to Sunday School. She teaches the children the Word, their religion. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected faith."When the child is able to praise God,then he's weaned. Some take 4 years, others 6. Samuel was somewhere around 5 to 7 years old. Samuel slept next to Eli in the temple. He was able to answer the questions. When God spoke to him, he thought it was Eli—he was old enough to know."

But we do find that some believe at the Jewish age of accountability is when he was brought to the temple as we find from Robert Seklemian of the ;

"When Hannah said she would give Samuel to the Lord when he was weaned, she did not mean weaned from the breast. Rather she meant when he was weaned from his mother, in the sense of being able to get along without her care. This would be when he was ten to twelve years of age. This is confirmed by the Jewish historian Josephus, who says Samuel was twelve when he was given to the Lord. It is interesting to remember that Jesus was twelve when he first presented himself at the Temple in Jerusalem. Also, it is the custom of the Jews to this day, to consider a 12-year-old boy as entering the age of responsibility."

Actually when I checked THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS By Flavius Josephus, chapter 10 paragraph 3&4 I found no mention of age when he was left, just when he started prophesying and that was 12years old. Although it could be presumed that this is when he was given over because it does state that when she brought him to be dedicated she rememberd her promise and gave him to Eli. So this would also be a safe assumption, compairing as well when Jesus was dedicated. Thus also reviwing tradition and customs.

Going back and looking at customs will give a more truer gage of when he was taken to Eli. Not at a young age of 3 as he would not of been able to properly be cared for and if he was dedicated as an infant the preisthood would of sent Samuel back to be raised for a time by his parents. But it is an understandable mistake when compairing to modern times instead of going back and putting propet interpretation into the context of study. It happens unfortunately all to often.

Hope this helps... ¢0:

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+1 for this answer; I always thought 'weaning' was considerably longer than 1-2 years old, and the thought of a 5 year old boy breastfeeding....let's not go there. I agree with your point-he would have no use to Eli at a younger age; yet 'nourished in the Word' as a 6 year old seems to fit the narrative. –  Tau Apr 21 '14 at 4:05
Thx you...I did edit one point about the Josephus fact...I may lean more to 12 as well considering dedication customs. I should of had that in my answer but hit the post button b4 I was done transferring my lesson notes. Oiy! Haha...but I am glad this ol teaching can help you! Enjoy!!! And thank you for letting me serve you. Anything else please don't hesitate to ask!!! ¢0: –  rob Apr 21 '14 at 4:23
Exscuse me, I mean 6 because the Bible does say weaned...and not dedicated, “After the child is weaned, I’ll bring him myself and present him before GOD—and that’s where he’ll stay, for good.” although it is safe to assume he is dedicated, it is not the typical age of accountability dedication. He is offerd up to God even moreso than a typical dedication. Hope that makes sense. –  rob Apr 21 '14 at 4:52
@rob Thank you so much. Very good answer. –  Ionică Bizău Apr 21 '14 at 15:32
@IonicăBizău, YW, Thx for the complement! !! ¢0: –  rob Apr 21 '14 at 22:00

If you further read the text in 1 Samuel 2:5, AFTER Hannah leaves Samuel with Eli and when she is praising the Lord she says, "She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has many sons pines away." Hannah is referring to herself in the first part of that sentence, so by the time she committed Samuel to the Lord as a servant of the priest (which was the official title), she had seven children (including Samuel). Technically, if she got pregnant immediately after she finished her six weeks of healing after birth which made her unclean in that day, is was 6 years and 1 month old. Not-so-ironically, research has shown that a child is essentially who they are going to be and have core beliefs in tack by 6 years of age.

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics. This is a good observation, but you may be interested in this question about the number of children that Hannah had. –  Soldarnal Jun 14 at 19:09

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