Pidyon Haben

Luke 2:22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moshe were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to YHVH
Luke 2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the L-rd, “EVERY first-born MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO YHVH”),
Luke 2:24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of YHVH, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES, OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”

In these two verses in the B’rit Chadasha we see two points of Jewish Law as recorded in the Torah. As Messianic Jews, be we Jewish of Gentile, we who are partakers of the Covenants of Israel are subject to these commandments. These are the laws of Pidyon- Haben (the Redemption of the Firstborn). We read in Exodus 11:4-5, the backdrop for this law.

Exodus 11:4 And Moses said, “Thus says YHVH, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt,
Exodus 11:5 and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the first-born of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the first-born of the cattle as well.”

Then in Exodus 2:29 we see the carrying our of YHVH’s decree:

Exodus 2:29 Now it came about at midnight that YHVH struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of cattle.
Exodus 12:30 And Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.

While the angel of death killed all the first born in the land of Egypt, YHVH in Exodus 12:3 had provided protection from this decree for the Hebrews. Let me read:

Exo 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.
Exo 12:4 ‘Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
Exo 12:5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
Exo 12:6 ‘And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.
Exo 12:7 ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
Exo 12:8 ‘And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Exo 12:9 ‘Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.
Exo 12:10 ‘And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.
Exo 12:11 ‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste– it is the LORD’S Passover.
Exo 12:12 ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments– I am YHVH.
Exo 12:13 ‘And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
Exo 12:14 ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to YHVH; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance, .

Then in verses 21 through 28 we read:

Exo 12:21 Then Moshe called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.
Exo 12:22 “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
Exo 12:23 “For YHVHwill pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, YHVH will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
Exo 12:24 “And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.
Exo 12:25 “And it will come about when you enter the land which YHVH will give you, as He has promised, that you shall observe this rite.
Exo 12:26 “And it will come about when your children will say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’
Exo 12:27 that you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to YHVH who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'” And the people bowed low and worshiped.
Exo 12:28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as YHVH had commanded Moshe and Aaron, so they did.

Here we see the scriptural bases for Passover and in it see the typology of Yahshua as the Passover Lamb as well as the vicarious saving by the His blood. We also have the scriptural basis in these passages and others the Redemption of the Firstborn, Pidyon Haben.

Now turn with me to Numbers 3:45. Read with me from verse 45 through verse 51.

Num 3:45 “Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the sons of Israel and the cattle of the Levites. And the Levites shall be Mine; I am YHVH.
Num 3:46 “And for the ransom of the 273 of the first-born of the sons of Israel who are in excess beyond the Levites,
Num 3:47 you shall take five shekels apiece, per head; you shall take them in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs),
Num 3:48 and give the money, the ransom of those who are in excess among them, to Aaron and to his sons.”
Num 3:49 So Moshe took the ransom money from those who were in excess, beyond those ransomed by the Levites;
Num 3:50 from the first-born of the sons of Israel he took the money in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, 1,365.
Num 3:51 Then Moshe gave the ransom money to Aaron and to his sons, at the command of YHVH, just as YHVH had commanded Moshe.

Each family in Israel was commanded to dedicate its firstborn to YHVH’s service but redeemed the male child for a payment of five sanctuary shekels. YHVH then accepts the Levites for service in the Tabernacle or Temple.

Why was this done? In the beginning it was the firstborn of each family who was to serve in the Tabernacle/Temple but because of the sin of the golden calf, YHVH rejected the first-born sons and elected the Levites because they remained true and did not worship the golden calf. Judicially, YHVH allowed this through the ritual of the Pidyon Haben.

In Exodus 13:2 we read: “Sanctify to Me every first-born, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.” In verse 15 it states: “you shall devote to YHVH the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to YHVH. In Exodus 22:29 YHVH instructs us to not “delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me.”

We now come to point where Israel sinned with the Golden Calf. Moshe had been before YHVH too long and the people fearing he was dead demanded of Aaron to make them a god to lead them. We should take counsel here that YHVH’s time is not our time. We are to endure patiently before Him. When we precipitously rush forward we may fall prey to some sin that will disqualify us before Him. In their mistrust the people had donated gold to form the calf and Aaron had fashioned it with an engraving tool and the people exclaimed aloud in verse chapter 32: 4 “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” We have to think what in the world is the matter with Aaron. Scripture comments on this a little later. He failed to control the people. We can draw from this that he was afraid of them. Since YHVH did not kill Aaron I have to think that he knew better, but fell prey to his own fears and YHVH graciously judged him with leniency. The lesson here is, we are not to fear man or what man may do, but stay steadfast in YHVH’s strength no matter the consequences. Had Aaron done so there would have been an entirely different outcome in this narrative. The entire world is in YHVH’s providence and we must depend upon Him. The next day the people rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Rose early, get it, they were eager to sin. Many times I have someone tell me they don’t have time to study Torah. I sometimes tell them to get up earlier before going off to work and study. Most of the time this advice is ignored, but people will always get up early to sin or stay up late for the same purpose.

In verse 8 YHVH speaks to Moshe and tells him: “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!'”

There followed a great exchange between YHVH and Moshe as to the fate of Israel. YHVH was of a mind to destroy all the people, but Moshe wanted to save them. The scripture paints a picture that Moshe persuaded YHVH to change His mind; the scripture says: YHVH changed His mind about destroying them. What do you think? Have you ever heard the phrase, “give him enough rope and he’ll hang himself”? Moshe was the leader of the people. He was also a murderer, if you recall his killing an Egyptian. Why did YHVH enter into such a dialogue with him at this point? Like Abraham before him, he was put to the test. Abraham in the Akedah, the binding of Issac, and now Moshe as Shepard, the leader of his people, in the incident of the golden calf. YHVH knew Moshe’s strengths and weaknesses, but we like Moshe do not until we are put to the test. What if Moshe had taken YHVH’s offer to have a new people come out of his lions instead of preserving the people he had led out of Egypt? What would this have said about Moshe? It would have demonstrated his unfitness for leadership in the mission YHVH had given him. YHVH knew Moshe’s strength, but now Moshe also knew it as a result of this test and it made him a better leader.

Back to the narrative. Moshe when he arrived in the camp saw the wanton display of the people and he destroyed the molten calf and made them drink the residue.

Then Moshe stood in the gate of the camp and in verse 26 we read: “Whoever is for YHVH, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him.

Then in Exo 32:27 we read: And he said to them, “Thus says YHVH, the Elohim of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.'”
Exo 32:28 So the sons of Levi did as Moshe instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day.

Then in Exodus 32:35 we read: “Then YHVH smote the people, because of what they did with the calf, which Aaron had made.”

Here then is the scenario by which the Pidyon Haben was instituted. No longer would the firstborn of Israel be elected to serve YHVH because of their sin with the golden calf, but instead the Levites who had remained steadfast to YHVH, they were now selected to serve Him. YHVH is a G-d of Justice, so judiciously, the firstborn had to be redeemed, and the ritual of the Redemption of the Firstborn accomplishes this.

We can draw all kinds of parallels from these scripture. The most obvious is have we been disqualified by YHVH for some sin that we have committed. Too many of us never really give that idea much thought. Think about it, if we had remained constant in Torah would our lives been different? Did we miss some great opportunity because we have our own golden calf? We can’t do anything about the past but we can the future.

Now let me end with saying that Yahshua’s parents were responsible for His Torah Observance at this point. It was their responsibility to see that he was redeemed. What might have been the outcome if they had ignored their parental responsibility to their child? Would Yahshua have been rendered unfit for His mission: The redemption of the World? It’s an awesome thought isn’t it? Parents have the most overwhelming responsibilities for the care and spiritual care of their children and thy must not fail in this obligation and duty. It could change the world.

After Joseph and Mary discharged their responsibility Mary had a further responsibility and that is her purification as found in Leviticus 12: 6.8. Read it! But note that while we discharge our responsibility to our children we must not ignore our personal responsibilities to YHVH Elohim.