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?

  • 1
    @IonicaBizau Good question, the Bible doesn't spell out how long 'weaning is', so we must decide from context what it must be.
    – Tau
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 4:09
  • 1
    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
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 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. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 19:00

3 Answers 3


The World Health Organization reports that the average weaning age is 4.2 years worldwide at present, however the weaning age has declined in modern times and the weaning age would have been higher in the past.

This is supported by the book of II Maccabees, 7:27 wherein a mother casually mentions giving milk to her son for three years which would be consistent with Samuel being about 3-5 years of age when he was dedicated at the temple and consistent with present and historical averages.

Leaning over her son, she fooled the cruel tyrant by saying in her native language,

My son, have pity on me. Remember that I carried you in my womb for nine months and nursed you for three years. I have taken care of you and looked after all your needs up to the present day.

Therefore, Samuel was probably older than 3, but there is no proof of this. We can only guess based on historic and anthropological data and trends and context. This also assumes this occurred relatively soon after weaning since technically a teenager would be dedicated "after weaning" too, though it would be an odd milestone to note if dedication occurred much later than the time of weaning and there was a significant gap between.


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, it was 6 years and 1 month old. Not-so-ironically, research has shown that children are essentially who they are going to be and have core beliefs intact by 6 years of age.


According to Rashi's commentary on the Book of Samuel Hannah brought Samuel to the Sanctuary after she weaned him at 22 months. An alternative version of the Rashi states 24 months.

  • Hi Rabbi K, thanks for contributing! I believe this would be a good answer over on Mi Yodeya, but on BH.SE the focus is on applying hermeneutical techniques to interpret passages in their original context. Secondary and Tertiary sources are useful, but our focus is beginning from the text, and so good answers will usually make reference to the primary text as their first port of call.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 9:41
  • It would also be great if we could have the reference for chapter/verse/page for Rashi. I'd be interested in reading that commentary. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 17:37

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