13:13 Every firstling 1 of a donkey you must redeem 2 with a lamb, and if you do not redeem it, then you must break its neck. 3 Every firstborn of 4 your sons you must redeem.
34:20 Now the firstling 5 of a donkey you may redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then break its neck. 6 You must redeem all the firstborn of your sons.
“No one will appear before me empty-handed. 7
1 tn Heb “and every opener [of a womb].”
2 tn The verb תִּפְדֶּה (tifdeh), the instructional imperfect, refers to the idea of redemption by paying a cost. This word is used regularly of redeeming a person, or an animal, from death or servitude (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 109).
3 tn The conditional clause uses an imperfect tense; this is followed by a perfect tense with the vav consecutive providing the obligation or instruction. The owner might not redeem the donkey, but if he did not, he could not keep it, he had to kill it by breaking its neck (so either a lamb for it, or the donkey itself). The donkey could not be killed by shedding blood because that would make it a sacrifice, and that was not possible with this kind of animal. See G. Brin, “The Firstling of Unclean Animals,” JQR 68 (1977): 1-15.
4 tn Heb “and every firstborn of man among your sons.” The addition of “man” is clearly meant to distinguish firstborn humans from animals.
sn One was to sacrifice the firstborn animals to Yahweh, but the children were to be redeemed by their fathers. The redemption price was five shekels (Num 18:15-16).
5 tn Heb “and the one that opens [the womb of] the donkey.”
6 sn See G. Brin, “The Firstling of Unclean Animals,” JQR 68 (1971): 1-15.
7 tn The form is the adverb “empty.”