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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Firstborn

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Bekôr (בְּכוֹר, Strong's #1060), “firstborn.” Bekôr appears about 122 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. The word represents the “firstborn” individual in a family (Gen. 25:13); the word can also represent the “firstborn” of a nation, collectively (Num. 3:46). The plural form of the word appears occasionally (Neh. 10:36); in this passage, the word is applied to animals. In other passages, the singular form of bekôr signifies a single “firstborn” animal (Lev. 27:26; KJV, “firstling”) or collectively the “firstborn” of a herd (Exod. 11:5).

The “oldest” or “firstborn” son (Exod. 6:14) had special privileges within the family. He received the special family blessing, which meant spiritual and social leadership and a double portion of the father’s possessions—or twice what all the other sons received (Deut. 21:17). He could lose this blessing through misdeeds (Gen. 35:22) or by selling it (Gen. 25:29-34). God claimed all Israel and all their possessions as His own. As a token of this claim, Israel was to give Him all its “firstborn” (Exod. 13:1-16). The animals were to be sacrificed, redeemed, or killed, while the male children were redeemed either by being replaced with Levites or by the payment of a redemption price (Num. 3:40ff.). Israel was God’s “firstborn”; it enjoyed a privileged position and blessings over all other nations (Exod. 4:22; Jer. 31:9).

The “first-born of death” is an idiom meaning a deadly disease (Job 18:13); the “firstborn of the poor” is the poorest class of people (Isa. 14:30).

Bikkûr (בִּכּוּרִים, Strong's #1061), “first fruits.” This noun appears 16 times. The “first grain and fruit” harvested was to be offered to God (Num. 28:26) in recognition of God’s ownership of the land and His sovereignty over nature. Bread of the “first fruits” was bread made of the first harvest grain, presented to God at Pentecost (Lev. 23:20). The “day of the first fruits” was Pentecost (Num. 28:26).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Firstborn'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/f/firstborn.html. 1940.

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