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BABE bāb (נַ֫עַר, H5853, infant; νήπιος, G3758, baby). There are two ways in which this word is used in the Bible—literally and figuratively. Babe is used to denote an infant or very young child. The two outstanding babies of the Bible are Moses and Jesus. Both were born during a time when male Heb. children were being killed; in the former case because Pharaoh was frightened of the population explosion among the Hebrews, and in the latter case because Herod feared the rising of another king. A third occasion in the Bible in which distress to mothers with infants on a large scale is referred to is in the prophetic passage in Matthew 24. It was necessary to emphasize Moses’ infancy to show his Heb. descent and right to be a ruler of his people. The Lord’s infancy is vividly depicted to underline the completeness of His humanity. He appears not only in the maturity of His ministry, nor as a precocious boy of twelve in the Temple, but as a helpless infant. (See Heb 4:15.)

The imagery of spiritual regeneration being a new birth is extended in the NT by regarding young Christians and also older undeveloped or stunted Christians as babes in Christ. Just as human babes can assimilate only milk, not solid food, so spiritual babes can grasp only fundamental or basic doctrines. Paul discusses this idea further in 1 Corinthians 3 as does Peter in 1 Peter 2. In Hebrews 5 and 6 one reads of those who should long since have gone on from “milk” to “solid food.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


(1) na`ar; pais of a male infant 3 months old (Ex 2:6) translated elsewhere "boy" or "lad."

(2) `olel, ta`alulim, in the general sense of "child" (Ps 8:2; 17:14; Isa 3:4).

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