Exodus 13: The Firstborn

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 47


Suppose you were condemned to die in another land. Before your execution, someone made arrangements, at great cost, to purchase your freedom. How would you feel about that individual? What would your relationship to that person be for the rest of your life? This scenario is like the situation of the firstborn males in Israel. They would die as part of the tenth plague unless they had the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. The blood literally redeemed, or saved, them from death. Exodus 13 records what the Lord said to these firstborn who from that time forward, in a sense, lived on “borrowed time” because they were unable to save themselves. Only through the blood were they spared from death.

Understanding the Scriptures

Exodus 13

Sanctify (v. 2)Set apart to the Lord and made holy 
Openeth the womb (v. 2)Firstborn 
In his season (v. 10)At the time the Lord said 
Openeth the matrix (vv. 12, 15)Firstborn 
Firstling (vv. 12–13)Firstborn 
Redeem (vv. 13, 15)Pay for; in other words, a lamb is sacrificed in the place of something else to recognize that which was saved belongs to the Lord. 
Frontlets (v. 16)A decorative band or ribbon worn across the forehead 
Repent (v. 17)Change their minds 
Straitly sworn (v. 19)Made a covenant or promise 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Exodus 13.

Activity A iconThe Firstborn

  1. 1.

    Imagine you are a father in Israel in the days of Moses. Write what you would say to your firstborn son about who he is and why special things are done for him and expected of him. Pay special attention to Exodus 13:1–3, 8–16 as you consider what you will say.

  2. 2.

    Read 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18–19; 2 Nephi 2:8; 9:7–9; and Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–12 and write about how you are like the firstborn in Israel. Also write about what you can do to always remember what the Lord has done and show Him your gratitude for the redemption provided through His Atonement.