In NIV is written:

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. 1 Samuel 1:24

The Romanian translation (VDC)1 has 2 important differences:

  • NIV says: a tree-year-old bull, VDC says tree bulls
  • NIV says: young as he was while VDC says the child was very very young (I'm not sure if my translation is pretty good, but the idea is the same)

I also see that biblegateway.com notes:

  • Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint and Syriac; Masoretic Text with three bulls (that seems to be the Romanian translation version)

Where did the differences appeared from? What's the original verse?

1 The Romanian is as follows: "Când l-a înţărcat, l-a suit cu ea, şi a luat trei tauri, o efă de făină şi un burduf cu vin. L-a dus în Casa Domnului la Silo: copilul era încă mic de tot." (VDC).


1 Answer 1


The Masoretic text of the phrase translated "young as he was" (NIV) and "the child was very young" (VDC) translates literally as "and the boy [was] a boy." This phrase is והנער נער. Both translations are in agreement that it indicates the youngness of Samuel.

However, other translations assume a textual problem here. They conclude that the repetition of na'ar is a scribal mistake. To support this, they point to the Septuagint which reads καὶ τὸ παιδάριον μετ᾽ αὐτῶν, which means "and the child was with them." Others translate it as if the text read "and the child was with her." "With her" is a conjectural emendation which has no basis in any known manuscript, but those are sometimes necessary when no witness makes sense.

The NIV using "three year old bull" comes from the Septuagint which has "a calf of three years." The basis of the Septuagint using that appears to be they are trying to make verse 24 agree with verse 25. Verse 25 in the Hebrew only specifies one bull as being as being sacrificed. To muddy the waters further, the Hebrew says "the bull" instead of "a bull." However, Hebrew at times will use a singular noun when a plural would be used in English. One type of this difference is called the collective sense. There are also cases of verb-subject disagreement in Hebrew that are perfectly fine in their grammar.

With the VDC using "the bulls" in verse 25, they would be understanding the Hebrew singular as referring to all the bulls in a collective sense. That is how I would understand it also.

  • Is this youngness of Samuel in concordance with the age of 6 year as answered here? Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:03
  • Also, in VDC version, verse 25 says: They sacrificed the bulls. Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:05
  • @IonicăBizău, I see no problem with a young na'ar being six years old.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:28

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