Saturday, March 10, 2007

Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb or break its neck

Exodus 34:19-20 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.


1. Why does a firstborn donkey need redeeming with a lamb?


Anonymous said...

Because that's what God says...?

Jason said...

Yah, not too sure what there is to say about this one. It's one of those "There isn't enough info to offer any kind of opinion" things.

Mashiach said...

How would it feel to you if you were told that you reminded someone of an animal, particularly a not so desirable animal, say, a donkey? That's actually what happened to a little known man in the Bible. He was a son of Jacob, his name was Issachar. The name actually means, "he will bring a reward", but his father, when blessing his sons, said, "Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor." (NIV) "Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute." (KJV) (Genesis 49:14, 15)
It's always been interesting to me that we often assign various human characteristics to different animals. Some animals come out looking good, others get a bad rap.
• When we don't like someone we might call them a "rat", and when life gets very hectic, we call it a "rat" race. Most of the time, the "rats" are winning.
• When someone is busy they're as busy as a "bee."
• The "fox" is sly, the "snake" is deceptive, and the "owl" is wise.
• Often we hear about "puppy" love, mother "hens", and "bear" hugs; but we live in a "dog-eat-dog" world.
• When you "ape" someone, you're copying them in a mocking way, perhaps while "monkeying" around.
• Everyone knows that the "goose" is silly, and an oversized person is as big as a "whale."
• To be like a "cat" is to be catty - that's bad; but we like things which are soft as a "kitten."
• When someone is as hungry as a "bear", they will probably "wolf" down their food, or perhaps even "pig" out.
• Lawyers after insurance money are called "vultures."
• If you're quick, you're like a "bunny"; if you're not, you're slow as a "turtle."
• We all know that "bulls" are clumsy, so we would never take one into the china closet.
• If you're quiet, you're like a "mouse"; if you're stubborn, you're a "mule"; if you're strong, you're like an "ox".
• The "eagle" reminds us of majesty, "elephants" never forget.
• Some people are as happy as a "lark"; if they sing like a "canary", that's good, but to sing like a "crow", that's bad.
But today we're talking about the "donkey" which, as everyone knows, is dumb. And we won't even use the King James name for "donkey", that's really a derogatory name. ( I once pulled into a church parking lot which was filled with busses and vans representing churches from all over the state. One full sized school bus caught my attention. It had the name of the church printed on the rear door. I don't remember the name of the church, but I'll never forget my dismay when I realized what had been done to fit the name "Assembly of God" on the door. The first word was abbreviated down to only three letters.)
However, in the Bible, it seems that the "donkey" was actually a very special animal - evidently Issachar didn't become offended when his father, in his deathbed speech, likened him to one.
In fact, according to Isaiah 1:3, the "donkey" was smarter than Israel - "the donkey [knows]his owner's manger" but the people don't know YWHW.
One of the great stories in the Bible is when a donkey was used by YWHW to speak to the prophet Balaam. (Numbers 22:21-34)
Just one "donkey" bone was used by Samson as a weapon, by which he destroyed 1,000 enemy soldiers. (Judges 15:15, 16) I have a friend who often has been heard to say, "If YWHW can use the donkey's jaw bone, surely He can use mine too."
Laws were instituted by Moses to give special consideration to the "donkey."
It may surprise you to find out that, just like humans, "donkeys" were to be redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb. "Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons." (Exodus 13:13)
"Donkeys" are right up there with other valuable possessions not to be the object of covetousness.
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's." (Exodus 20:17)
"Donkeys" were also covered by the Sabbath law.
"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed." (Exodus 23:12)
"Donkeys" were to be looked after by neighbors. (Exodus 21:33; Exodus 23:4,5) Yahshua even makes mention of this when answering the critics who accused Him of breaking the law by healing a woman on the Sabbath: "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on Shabbat from what bound her?" ( Luke 13:15, 16)
Notice also that some of the great events of the Bible, took place in the presence of a "donkey":
The "donkey" was there when Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. (Genesis 22:3)
The "donkey" was part of the pilgrimage made by the brothers of Joseph to request food from Egypt. (Genesis 42:27)
A "donkey" was with Moses and his small family during their trip back to Egypt to deliver the people from bondage. (Exodus 4:20)
"Donkeys" witnessed the collapse of Jericho's walls. (Joshua 6:21)
But the greatest story of all, the one we commemorate today - Yahshua rode into the city of Jerusalem on a "donkey." Why did he call for a "donkey"? He was YWHW Almighty", didn't he deserve the best? Didn't He deserve royal treatment? Yes, but Yahshua rather chose to identify with the common person. Horses may be for those who take pride in their positions, Yahshua, if anything, took pride in being a servant.
Matthew 21:1-5 - "As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Yahshua sent two disciples, saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that YWHW needs them, and he will send them right away.' This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet (Zechariah 9:9): 'Say to the Daughter of Zion, `See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"
The lowly donkey had the greatest privilege of all - to bear on his back the Son of YWHW. Why was the donkey so honored? Of course, because he was available, but also because the donkey was a picture of humility, and the willingness to perform hard work.
No, Issachar wasn't embarrassed when his father Jacob likened him and his descendants to "donkeys". They would be distinguished for their ability and readiness to work hard, even under the undesirable conditions of being under oppression - they would be known for their quiet, patient, and industrious habits - fit for, and inclined to labor.
Oh yes, if the load became too heavy, with sacks weighing him down on both sides, the donkey would have sense enough to sit down, and refuse to go on. That too is a lesson for us to learn. But most important of all, when we see Yahshua coming into the city, and praise Him as the King, let us also think kindly toward the "donkey" he rode upon, and seek to be as ready to serve, and work hard for our Master, even while under the oppression that this world often lays on us.

mashich said...

The above commentary was written by Dr. Neil Chadwick at

Anonymous said...

bit harsh!
"break its neck"
not kill it.
just let it die slowly.

imagine that really old guy surrounded by desert.. he's got a pregz female donkey... it gives birth and dies in the process. He's then got 2 sacrifice (ie. burn the carcass of) his last livestock

im a 2nd child... does that mean im not "owned" by God?

Anonymous said...

what if you keep fish for food... they dont have a womb (right?).. at least they release eggs which may never even be fertilized! and how would you know which is the first?

what if youre vegetarian? you get no hassle? i think there should be something about give up youre first batch of potatoes or something

Another Jason said...

Donkeys back then were like cars today. Expensive and important to make a living (unless you're one of the lucky ones who gets to walk or ride a bike). I think this plays two parts: showing God's mercy and setting up the illustration of Christ as our redeemer.

Mercy because God allowed an animal to be sacrificed in place of the donkey. The goal is not to kill the donkey but to have something die in its place. The punishment was that if a lamb did not die in its place, the donkey had to die. How many Israelites do you think would kill a donkey over a lamb?

Notice that the firstborn son was also to be redeemed. God allowed a lamb to be sacrificed in place of a donkey (expensive, essential) and a son (beloved child of God far more important than any animal).

And the theory about the donkey dying alone in the wilderness... I'm not sure where that was going. I don't think a pregnant donkey would be out in the desert as it would probably be prepped for birth. Also, I don't think the owner was required to sacrifice the animal as soon as it was born.

Anonymous said...

this verse is talking about redeeming gently versus stiff necked, rebellious people. they are so unchangeable they would rather have their neck broken than change their ways. God's word is not going to budge,s o, this donkey gets a broken neck in the end. KEY: the lamb is Christ and the Word, and that Word does the neck breaking via the fate found in sin, the truthfulness of and absoluteness of His word. This is also addressing Ishmael! Christ, his nephew, will deliver the wild ass of a man in Genesis 16:2! Turner E.

Anonymous said...

Donkeys were useful beasts of burden for families.

Lambs could be sacrificed much more easily for a working family.

What I want to know is, how do you break a donkey's neck?

Anonymous said...

all the creatures in the bible are (according to each kind) depicted in such a manner as to reveal a nature which can also be found in man. The donkey is used as a servant; the least of the servants. The donkey and its foal are two parts. The rider is the teacher in the seat of authority. The foal the bible speaks of cannot be taught by men ( "loose the foal upon which no man has ridden"). There are two parts to you. The flesh; and the spirit belonging to God. Is it the reasoning of men or the authority of Christ in the seat of authority? The law reads the sacrifice of a lamb to redeem the foal of a donkey. Jesus rode the foal of a donkey into Jerusalem and gave His life. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God to redeem that part of you which is eternal in nature; your spirit. In one parable language Jesus rode the 'foal' into Jerusalem and gave His life. Only the spirit of a man can be redeemed, This law reveals it. But in another parable language Jesus rode "them" into Jerusalem and gave His life. Concerning each of us who are of 'faith in Christ' He could not lead the spirit of a man without also leading the flesh of a man; but according to law, only the spirit child of God can be redeemed.

Anonymous said...

Without the Lamb of God, the foal cannot be redeemed. The foal is dead by virtue of a choice a man makes not to redeem the foal with a lamb. It is by this choice by the man that the bible speaks of;

Anonymous said...

The biblical teaching of God's people is given in many ways, and one of those ways is by the natures of creatures "according to each kind"

The 'obedience of God's people'

"Fasten the donkey to the vine and the foal of the donkey to the Choice Vine." God applied all the things of His Creation in such a way that we have no excuse, because all the earth proclaims Him and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Carrie said...

I thought it was because the donkey is unclean. ??

Carrie said...

Num 18:15 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem.

Anonymous said...

I looove this response

Anonymous said...

The law reads as a command; The sacrifice of a lamb to redeem the foal of a donkey. Be patient please. This is creation language. It is counter intuitive. We cannot see it unless it is revealed. Jesus came to fulfill the law and brought understanding to the words of the prophets. In one part of the New Testament it is written that Jesus rode the foal of a donkey into Jerusalem and gave His life. This life language is the fulfillment of this Old Testament law; The sacrifice of the Lamb of God to redeem the foal of a donkey. This is why it is written that He rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. I will share more of what this means personally concerning each and every one of us, if you show an interest.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, after reading some of these examples, I see that some of my writings are already posted here. The date is 4/12/2011.
There is a reference made to breaking the foal's neck if it is not redeemed. This is not a harsh language. It is a language of truth. If you will not allow yourself to be redeemed, you have chosen death. You have not offered 'the foal' when Jesus asked for it. A woman might understand this language a bit better than a man concerning the child. But Jesus said that unless we are born again, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is reference each and every one of us; and the child within each of us which must be redeemed or that child will surely parish. Concerning the post of 7/19/2014 6;02 pm, I offer an apology for acting so full of myself. It was uncalled for. There are a few references to the nature of a donkey as a servant and in some places, compared to people. None of these references are how filthy the creature is. That is the reasoning of men. Even the donkey that speaks in the Old Testament is about the nature of a man (creature) who knows better than to cross that line even though the thoughts of a man reveal the greediness of a man. There are natures of many creatures written into law; according to each kind. Each one of these natures are facets that can be found within each of us; and the reason for a command for us to have dominion over those (creature) natures. In order to understand creation language; it has to be removed from our hands to interpret through guessing and pointing outwardly. These laws are about each and every one of us; personally. Even law concerning swine is about a nature that does not carefully consider its food (does not chew the cud). God's people are not to have this nature that doesn't carefully consider His word as food that needs to be carefully considered over and over again to gain all that can be learned from it. Jesus is the Word of God and He has offered His body as food. This is creation language. Be careful not to point outwardly. It is about the person who carefully considers it. Thank you for patiently reading this. My past is a bitter witness of sin, But the witness of the work of Jesus Christ in a person's life is greater than all the bitterness. Surrender This witness is shared by

Anonymous said...

Fish, christian fish, symbol of the christian fish. This biblical language is in both the Old and New Testaments; but in the New Testament, Jesus not only fulfills the words of the prophets; the process of fulfillment is also the gift of understanding. The symbol of the christian fish is more than two lines drawn in the sand by people who are afraid to say His name. It is more than the name of Jesus spelled in Greek. The teaching if the christian fish is personally about each and every one of us before hearing the call (witness) of God's wrath if the person does not repent, does not follow Christ, who said, Repent, pick up your cross and follow Me. Jesus used those words in the very beginning of His ministry. Also, in the beginning of His ministry He said, Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men. The following is a language for a person to consider on a personal level. Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't go there!" Well, we all 'went there' but God made that place so that we could be redeemed. I did not know to say it that way until my own salvation, and two places in the bible. In the Old Testament there is a prophet who asked God, "Why do You make men like fish of the sea; like creatures who wander as if they have no ruler over them?" These are the lost Jesus spoke of when He said, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men (because we 'went there'). In order to understand the meaning of the christian fish, it is important to see both parts, the before and after. You wandered in a place that seemed natural to you, and Jesus is saying we need to be removed from that place by the Word of God (the hook). Take a piece if paper and draw a straight line. Above that like write "fishers of men" Now, under those three words (below the line) write "Men like (symbol of fish) of the sea. That picture might help you understand the personal meaning of the christian fish. It is not about someone else. It is about the person who sees it and understands. There is parable language in the New Testament about a coin in the fishes mouth. This is about the person who has been taken up out of the sea; the coin has two parts; which is the fulfillment of an Old Testament law, which Jesus causes to be fulfilled in you as you walk with Him. I will gladly share this in the next post. Thank you for allowing me this moment.

Anonymous said...

What if you read the Bible Literally? This is a fair question because the bible uses things we can see, to teach us things which cannot be seen. By using creation as an image of things we cannot see without them, it can be said that the answers we look for are hidden in plain sight, literally speaking. Birds of the air, creatures that walk on land, and fish of the sea; it is said that we are to have dominion over all of these. But not in the sense of our perception of domination. What is spoken of her are natures of creation 'according to each kind' are character specific. Another way of saying this has to do with law and words of the prophets when they use the many facets of creation; teaching us who we are and why we are that way in God's sight. How could we possibly know about the Son of a Carpenter who uses His hands to shape living stones to build an eternal spiritual church; If we did not have carpenters and masons who shaped stones for the building of church that perishes with the using of it? The church we can see is but the mere image of the eternally true church. This is why it is wrong for the various christian religions to say they have the one true church. A true statement would be that Jesus has the one true church which He builds with His hands. Our Heavenly Father created Heaven and earth, but it is His Son Jesus; The Son of a Carpenter, who has come to be the Finisher of His Father's work. How do I know this? God gave us the image that speaks of the things we cannot see. This post is shared by high_tide2fish@yahoo.

Anonymous said...

Coin in the fishes mouth; even though there is more food in the teaching of the symbol of the christian fish, I am sharing one element of the walk with Jesus concerning the coin in the New Testament and a command (law) which Moses gave in the Old Testament. There were people laboring in the field concerning food for the flesh. These people were 'strangers' to our Heavenly Father's temple. Moses gave a command that there will be people coming to be counted in the census of God's temple. AFTER they are counted, they are to give a half shekel (many miss this), according to the whole shekel of the sanctuary; as a memorial which gives witness to the things which God had already done by His own hand. Now in the New Testament, Jesus brings understanding to that law by saying, "Simon, from whom are the taxes (not the best word) collected from, sons or strangers?" Peter (Simon) immediately said, "From strangers" Jesus said, then the sons are free; go down to the water, lower a hook (word of God), take the first fish that comes up, take the coin from its mouth and give it to the the temple priests (here is the meaning of the two parts) for Me and for you. To understand this better, the memorial does something that many have not put into words; the memorial is a witness of something that has already taken place. How is this law fulfilled in you? When you heard the word of God, and as a stranger you came to be counted in the census of God's people, afterword you opened your mouth and gave witness in the church and where ever you traveled, of having been called, having been saved, having been born again in the presence of the Word of God. When you have done this, immediately Jesus caused the law to be fulfilled in you. Jesus brings understanding to Old Testament law and words of the prophets. Not that you have to memorize every law, but knowing by your faith in Him that the law is being fulfilled in you. Jesus said, not one jot or tittle of the law will pass before it is fulfilled. The teaching of the fish takes place in the very beginning of our walk with Him. While we carefully consider the Word of God, our soul is strengthened, our countenance is stronger with understanding. Have you ever wanted to go fishing? If you have, than you are aware just how much a person desires to catch fish. This is a nature Jesus seeks when He says to who ever is listening, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." There is more concerning fish of the sea; this witness is given by

Anonymous said...

responding to post 7/21/2012; Carrie, concerning the verse you gave Numbers 18;15 / Old Testament law didn't single out the donkey as an unclean animal; but this verse does speak of redeeming the first born of men, and unclean creatures offered to God. This is creation language; it is personally about the person who carefully considers it. This wisdom is not only from God, it also is food that strengthens and causes a person to grow with understanding. To demonstrate this law I will use the image of the christian fish, but you'll need to wear the shoes on both sides of saved and unsaved to see this on a personal plain. "God, why do You make men like fish of the sea; like creatures who wonder as if they have no ruler over them?" This verse speaks of people who live in way that seems natural to them; but it is a 'place' of sin. The only way a person can be redeemed from that 'place' is by the hearing of the word of God (the hook). That person is 'slain' by the word of God. You know, and I know that when a fish is removed from the water, it dies. When a fish dies, and then is prepared by fire, only then does it become food for you. Because creation language reveals this which you can see, it also reveals that this is the mere image of something which cannot be seen or known without the image. It isn't until you are slain by the word of God, and then tried by the fire of the Holy Spirit, that you then become food for God's people; Much like I am doing for you right now. In as much as you do not go swimming when you are hungry, so that you can eat a fish while it is alive and swimming, so too, a person who is not redeemed, cannot be food for God's people. Now, I will share with you a New Testament example; There were people who believed in Jesus when they received the word of God and believed. These people were considered unclean by the Jewish people; but these people were sent to Peter. Peter was given a vision which revealed animals on a sheet which was tied in all four corners. This sheet was raised and lowered three times. At that very moment, the people who were sent to Peter, had arrived. Peter said that it was unlawful for him to take part with these because the animals and the people were considered by him to be unclean. Immediately the Lord spoke to Peter and said, What I have made clean, no man shall call unclean. Rise Peter, kill and eat. The people sent were prophesying the hidden things of God, which could only have been known to them if God revealed to them. Today, many who teach religion, are not able to see this. There are those who trust in Jesus, who understand some of the hidden things of God. But I will say to you, that if you can barely touch the edges of understanding, you have truly have been blessed. This witness is shared by

Anonymous said...

There is a question which has gone unanswered; Why does a firstborn donkey need redeeming with a lamb?
Jesus said that unless you are born again, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is reference to a child of God, a new born from within; the very image of the first born of God which Jesus speaks of, and the Laws and words of the prophets give testimony. Jesus said to loose the foal upon which no man has ridden in the seat of authority. Creation language is being used so that it would be made possible for us to see what is happening in plain sight, and the world cannot fathom this because the world does not believe what God has said and done. This witness is shared by

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the wonderful comments about the nature of donkeys and their stubborn nature and their need to be redeemed by the lamb, I'd like to add this one perspective. Donkeys (Jacks and Jenny's) Asses are among the few animals that can go whoring after "Strange" love and other gods outside of their KIND, and reproduce with horses, ponies, zebras .... to produce hybrid animals like mules or actually donkeys and if indeed that is what the writer of The Exodus is talking about then he is talking about a hybrid animal born out of CARNAL lusts like unto the Giants that were born when the Sons of God visited the Daughters of men. Thus making the story of Exodus come in full circle that God is not pleased when his children go seeking after flase gods and strange love.

Unknown said...

With the blow of a axe