The Firstborn and the Levites


There is a requirement in both Exodus 22:29-30 and Exodus 34:19-20 that people give their first-born sons to God. In both cases the offering of human sons is parallel to the offering of livestock in blood sacrifice. In the Exodus 34 passage you are required to redeem your son, apparently by offering a sheep instead, just as you would to redeem a donkey.

I doubt that the Exodus 22 passage ever was taken to mean actually sacrificing a son. Certainly the story about Abraham substituting a ram for Isaac projects the redemption of sons back to the beginnings of Israel.  The Passover event also is about redeeming the firstborn of Israel, while the Egyptian firstborn were dying.

The strange passage in Ezekiel 20:25-26 (but then most every chapter in Ezekiel has something pretty strange) might mean that during the desperate days leading up to the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem some…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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