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11 “Now it shall be when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, 12 you shall set apart and dedicate to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock shall be the Lord’s. 13 Every firstborn of a [a]donkey you shall redeem by [substituting] a lamb [as a sacrifice for it], but if you do not [wish to] redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every firstborn among your sons you shall redeem [that is, “buy back” from God with a suitable sacrifice].

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Footnotes

  1. Exodus 13:13 For most Israelites, the donkey would eventually be important for their livelihoods as a work-animal, so God foresaw the need and allowed this exception. Those who had no need for an additional donkey were not required to redeem it, but were to kill it in recognition of God’s right to the firstborn. On the other hand, redemption was of course the only option for a firstborn son. God thereby honors His own right to the firstborn, but at the same time forbids human sacrifice.
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