From the beginning the office of the priesthood in each family belonged to the eldest son. But when the extensive plan of sacrificial worship was introduced, requiring a company of men to be exclusively devoted to this ministry, the primitive office of the first-born was superseded by that of the Levites ( Numbers 3:11-13 ), and it was ordained that the first-born of man and of unclean animals should henceforth be redeemed ( 18:15 ).
But the first-born of unclean animals was either to be redeemed or sold and the price given to the priest ( Leviticus 27:11-13 Leviticus 27:27 ). The first-born of an ass, if not redeemed, was to be put to death ( Exodus 13:13 ; 34:20 ).
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
Bibliography InformationEaston, Matthew George. "Entry for First-born, Redemption of". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".