In 2 Kings 2:23, a group of boys jeers Elisha. Various English translations render this "young boys", "young lads", "boys", "small boys". What kind of range does the Hebrew word behind this group of people have? Likely how old were those jeering Elisha?


The word נַעַר (na’ar), here translated "boy," has a broad range of meaning. It can refer to infants all the way up to adolescence. However, קטנ (qatan meaning "small"), used with it, limits the age.

The exact phrase, "small boys" appears in the following verses (all from the NET Bible):

  • 1 Sam 20:35 The next morning Jonathan, along with a young servant, went out to the field to meet David.
  • 1 Kings 3:7 Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in my father David’s place, even though I am only a young man and am inexperienced. (Solomon is speaking with hyperbole here)
  • 1 Kings 11:17 Hadad, who was only a small boy at the time, escaped with some of his father’s Edomite servants and headed for Egypt.
  • 2 Kings 5:14 ...His skin became as smooth as a young child’s and he was healed.
  • Isa 11:6 ...as a small child leads them along.

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