This painting illustrates a scene where the child Jesus visits the temple and astonishes the rabbis with his learning and understanding.
As described by Bronkhurst, this was Hunt's major figure subject begun on his first visit to Jerusalem. The painting was a popular success, with two engravings produced in 1867 and 1893. A smaller version of the same subject is in the collection of the National Museums of Liverpool.
A key plate identifying the figures in the scene was published by E Gambert & Co. in 1867, a copy of which is in Birmingham's collections.