Biblical basis for treating men 20 years and older differently from boys

All scripture quotes are from the NKJV


The army of Israel was to include men 20 years and older

·         "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies. Numbers 1:2-3 (cf. v.22ff)


Temple worship required men 20 years old and older to bring their own offerings

·         Exodus 30:14  Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the LORD.

·         And the silver from those who were numbered of the congregation was one hundred talents and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary: a bekah for each man (that is, half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone included in the numbering from twenty years old and above...  Exodus 38:25-26

·         Deuteronomy 16:16-17 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.  17  Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.


There appears to be a tradition by which children at age 12 and older would attend with parents

·         Luke 2:41-42 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.


Temple vows treated men differently once they reached age 20

·         “if your valuation is of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary... and if from five years old up to twenty years old, then your valuation for a male shall be twenty shekels..” Leviticus 27:3-5


The age at which men could enter service as priests was 20 or higher

·         Numbers 8:24 "This is what pertains to the Levites: From twenty-five years old and above one may enter to perform service in the work of the tabernacle of meeting;

·         Numbers 4:30 From thirty years old and above, even to fifty years old, you shall number them, everyone who enters the service to do the work of the tabernacle of meeting.

·         Ezra 3:8 Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.


God held men 20 years old and older responsible for civil sin, but not those younger

·         Numbers 14:29 “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.”

·         Numbers 32:11 “Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me,”


The 20-year age threshold was not applied to all the kings, however

·         Most of the kings began service above age 20, except for Joash (age 7, 2 Chron. 24:1), Uzziah (age 16, 2 Chron. 26:3), Manasseh (age 12, 2 Chron. 33:1), Josiah (age 8, 2 Chron. 34:1), and Jehoiachin (age 8, 2 Chron. 36:9)