(yeledh, "child," na`ar, "lad," "youth"; ho pais and he pais): Refers to a child of any age, and is sometimes used of either sex: Joe 3:3; Zec 8:5; Mt 17:18; Lu 2:43; 8:51,54 fem.; Lu 9:42. In the East the word applies also to an adult who is a servant (Mt 8:6 the Revised Version, margin). The boy occupied a place of special importance in the family life of all ancient people. In Syria the father even was called by the name of his son. He was known as the father of Joseph, or whatever the n ame might be. As is true among all oriental people, while the father had absolute control in his case as well as in the case of the rest of the household, yet the boy received a consideration and advantages not accorded to the daughter. In the Jewish family his religious life began at the fourth year. He was expected to learn the Scriptures at five, the Mishna at ten, and to fulfill the whole law at thirteen. At twelve years he was expected to learn a trade, and attained to something of independence at that age, though he did not come into full rights as a citizen until he was twenty. Among many nations there was special rejoicing at the birth of the boy, and sometimes a feast. One of the most ancient customs was the planting of a cedar tree on this occasion.
See CHILD; FAMILY; SON.
Jacob W. Kapp