Ages of Children Addressed in Proverbs

I wanted to ask you if you know of any source that offers us any insight to the age of Solomon’s son (I’m assuming Rehoboam) when he shared these proverbs with him. We are assembling a class to teach parents about talking to their children about sex and sexual development and were hoping to use Solomon as a biblical example and thus thought knowing the his son’s (or sons’) age(s) might offer some insight.

Let’s look at two lines of reasoning to resolve this issue. First, on the basis of the meaning and usage of the Hebrew noun na’ar (Prov 1:4; 22:6, 15; etc.), the ages of his sons would have been somewhere between 3 and 40. Note that when Samuel had been weaned (3-5 years of age was common) he was a na’ar (1 Sam 1:24‚25). And, when Absalom died he was a na’ar, was married, and had children (2 Sam 14:27 and 18:5).

Second, on the basis of a chronology of Solomon’s life we can look at two sets of information: the literary authorship of Proverbs and the genealogical and royal information. Little can be said definitively about the date for the Solomonic sections of the book of Proverbs. Some think Solomon was middle-aged (in contrast to young for the Song of Solomon and old for Ecclesiastes) — this is a view embedded in ancient rabbinic tradition. That is probably correct, since he would have had to be old enough to have children old enough to train as indicated by Proverbs.

As for genealogy and the royal records, David reigned in Hebron 7-1/2 years (2 Sam 2:11). He was 30 when he began his reign and reigned for 40 years (2 Sam 5:4). He was in Jerusalem early in his reign in that city when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1). He would have been 37-1/2 years old when he came to Jerusalem. Add a year (or two?) until his adultery. Then add 18 months to account for the birth of the illegitimate child and the following birth of Solomon (2 Sam 12:24) and we come to David being 41 at the birth of Solomon and in his 11th or 12th year of his reign. He died 28 years later (which would be Solomon’s age when he became king in place of David).

Since Solomon reigned 40 years (1 Kgs 11:42) and his successor, his eldest son Rehoboam, was 41 years old when he began his reign (1 Kgs 14:21), then he was born before Solomon became king. That would make Solomon approximately 27 years of age when he fathered Rehoboam. If he wrote Proverbs in his 40-50 age range (his 12th to 22nd years of reign), Rehoboam, his oldest son, would have been 13-23 years of age. All of his brothers would have been younger. If Solomon wrote Proverbs a little later, it would seem to contradict his life style in which he was drawn away from the Lord by his many wives. Therefore, I think that we are looking at Solomon writing this instruction for his children no later than this time. Thus, the ages of his children would be anywhere from 5-25 years of age. Just about everything we read in Proverbs would match this age range and also would keep the mother involved as well in their training (something mentioned again and again).

That’s as close as I can get it for you. As you can see, you could derive the same information with a concordance or a Bible software program. Unless I missed something, it can’t be much more precise.

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