Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a skin-bottle of wine, and brought him to Yahweh’s house in Shiloh. And the child was a child. Bible

“three-year-old bull.” Some texts read “three bulls,” but “three-year-old” is more likely original. Also, it likely points to the age of Samuel. We cannot be sure, but it seems logical that the sacrifice of a three-year-old bull would be a fitting sacrifice at the dedication of three-year-old Samuel, and weaning at three years of age was not uncommon biblically, in fact, many babies were weaned later than that.

“skin-bottle.” A “bottle” or container made from animal skin. [For more on skin-bottles, which were usually made from the skins of goats, see commentary on 1 Sam. 10:3].

“the child was a child.” The apparent tautology is actually the figure of speech antanaclasis, in which the same word is used in a sentence with different meanings, the “word clashing” bringing an emphasis to the text. Perhaps the most famous example of antanaclasis was in the speech that Benjamin Franklin made to the early continental congress about the American Revolution in which he addressed the division amongst them and the danger of that division in the light of their treason against England: “Gentlemen, we must all hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.” Here in 1 Samuel 1:24, “the child (little boy) was a child (very young).”

Commentary for: 1 Samuel 1:24