Biblical Principle #275: Inheritance Right of Firstborn Sons

Biblical Principles List


In the Law of Moses, God included a provision to ensure firstborn sons received the traditional double share of their father’s inheritance.


The Law of Moses allowed for polygamy, as was common in ancient cultures, dating back to Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, Lamech, per Genesis 4:19.

A man having multiple wives introduces new challenges and problems into the family household, such as favoritism. Jacob’s relationship with Leah and Rachel comes to mind as an example.

The husband’s varying level of affection towards his multiple wives would undoubtedly spill over into their mutual children, creating additional challenges.

Apparently, it was important to GOD that the firstborn son be protected from this history and favoritism. Therefore, GOD told Moses:

15 “But if a man has two wives, one of them who is loved and one of them who is hated, and the one who is loved and the one who is hated father for him, and the firstborn son is of the one who is hated; 16 it shall be also that on whatever day he divides his possessions among his sons, he shall not be able to treat as firstborn the son of the one who is loved, overlooking the son of the one who is hated as the firstborn. 17 Rather, he shall acknowledge the firstborn son of the one who is hated, to give him double from all that is found to him, since he is the beginning of his children, and to this one is due the rights of the firstborn.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17 LES2

In this provision, we see the character and heart of GOD, to watch out for the innocent and protect that which is right and just for the one who is deserving.

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2 responses to “Biblical Principle #275: Inheritance Right of Firstborn Sons”

  1. Matt Gause Avatar
    Matt Gause

    These are hard realities of existence in the levant back in those days….eeking out a life in the near middle East was difficult at least and seemingly impossible to people of no means, working class.

    The Judges hammered out the rules to apply to the families that best served to mete out justice, and righteousness, however, it did not always turn out that way as we will see in the later stages of the Israelite kingdom, the Judges were not always genuine, and proved to have no integrity… A major problem with their relationship to a Holy God

    1. Tim Harris Avatar

      And it was those subsequent evil judges’ behavior, and the Prophets’ prophecies of judgment against them, that primarily necessitates the inclusion of this Principle in our list.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always, Matt! Always enjoy your insight and feedback.


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