Why the Firstborn Son?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

“And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of the cattle” (Exodus 12:29 KJV).

What was so special about the firstborn in Egypt that the LORD slew them?

Every casual Bible reader knows the context of today’s Scripture. Israel has been enslaved in Egypt for centuries, and the LORD has sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to command Pharaoh to release Israel. Once Moses and Aaron appear before Pharaoh the first time, Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go and rather afflicts Israel with even more hardship (Exodus 4:1-23). So, the LORD demonstrates His power via ten plagues He poured out on Egypt. Unbelieving Israel will come to understand that Moses is God’s spokesman, and unbelieving Egypt will come to understand Israel is God’s people.

Moses and Aaron continually appear before Pharaoh, and Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go every time. Pharaoh is becoming more and more callous toward God’s Word: his heart is hardening and it is becoming increasingly stubborn. The tenth and final plague the LORD executes on Egypt and its pagan idols is the death of the firstborn: every firstborn in each Egyptian household, both of livestock and people, is slain by “the destroyer” that passes over Egypt (Exodus 12:23).

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD” (verse 12). Again, why the firstborn son? Exodus 4:22,23 explains: “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.”

And thus, by slaying Egypt’s firstborn sons, God demonstrated to Pharaoh that Israel was His firstborn son.