Exodus 13:11-13

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Exodus 13

Law Analysis overview

11 “It shall be, when YHWH brings you into the land of the Canaanite, as he swore to you and to your fathers, and will give it you, 12 that you shall set apart to YHWH all that opens the womb, and every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have. The males shall be YHWH’s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons. Exodus 13:11-13WEB


The Command[/Principle]

This passage contains a positive command, directed toward Israel, giving some more details on the prior command in Exodus 13:2: "Sanctify all the firstborn to God".

In this qualification, it is clarified that this rule pertains to firstborn males, it commands either redemption or death by breaking of neck for donkeys, and it commands redemption in the case of humans.


This command is part of the Typological/Ceremonial Law. It fits in with commands relevant to Loving God.

This command is relevant to an understanding of Sacrifice because of the means by which firstborn animals can be offered to God, Inheritance because it pertains to the firstborn of the children of Israel, Sanctification because the command is to sanctify the firstborn, and Redemption because it requires redemption for firstborn children.


The command received fulfillment soon after it was given, when God took the Levites as a substitutionary offering in place of the firstborn of Israel (see Numbers 3:12,45). The command was then fulfilled by Jesus, who was a priest after the order of Melchizedek, superseding and replacing the Levitical priesthood (see Hebrews 6), and Jesus offered himself as a substitute on behalf of all mankind, being (as it says in Romans 8:29) the firstborn among many brothers.

Notes on Interpretation/Application

More on Redemption

Additional information on specific practices relating to redemption of animals can be found in Numbers 18. Additional information pertaining to the cost to redeem a human can be found in Leviticus 27

Interpretation 2