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Nehemiah 10:36 NASB

36 and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God.

The firstborn had been dedicated to the Lord after he redeemed them from Egypt

Exodus 13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first [a]offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.

But later the first born were exchanged for the Levites

Numbers 3:41-45 NASB

41 You shall take the Levites for Me, I am the Lord, instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the sons of Israel.”45 “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel and the cattle of the Levites. And the Levites shall be Mine; I am the Lord.

So why does Nehemiah require that the firstborn be brought before the Lord?

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The practice of setting apart the firstborn and paying redemption money was to be a lasting ordinance in Israel. The first instruction, about this, and its reason, is found here:

Ex 13:1, 2, 14-16 - Then the LORD said to Moses, “Consecrate to Me every firstborn male, a The firstborn from every womb among the Israelites belongs to Me, both of man and beast.” … In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you are to tell him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of man and beast. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the firstborn male of every womb, but I redeem all the firstborn of my sons.’ So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead, for with a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

But the instruction is repeated in other places:

Ex 22:29, 30 - "You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. "You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

See also Ex 34:19, 20; Lev 27:26.

Later a change was implemented - God dedicated the Levites as priests for the nation in place of all the first born sons of Israel.

Num 3:12, 13 - Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. “For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the LORD.”

However, the firstborn must be redeemed with money under this arrangement:

Ex 34:19, 20 - “The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. “You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed

This was lasting ordinance in Israel.

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Numbers 3:41-45 did not nullify the redemption price of the firstborns. It only expressed God's taking of the Levi tribe instead of the firstborns of every tribe to be ministers in the services of the Lord's tabernacle.

It was stated later in Numbers 18

14 “Everything in Israel that is devoted b to the Lord is yours. 15The first offspring of every womb, both human and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals. 16When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.

So why does Nehemiah require that the firstborn be brought before the Lord?

To resume the usual practice of collecting the redemption money by counting the number of firstborns being present. It was a special event. Before the exile, the people brought their firstborn babies at one month of age.

Nehemiah 10

34“We—the priests, the Levites and the people—have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law.

35“We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.

36“As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there.

Basically Nehemiah was setting up the initial process of financing the continual upkeep of the rebuilt temple as he talked about tithes and storerooms further on.

37“Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work. 38A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury. 39The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept.

“We will not neglect the house of our God.”

Nehemiah was concerned about the income collections for the rebuilt temple when he called the firstborns to show up.

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Because of the Passover in Egypt

Exodus 13:11-16 (ESV; emphasis mine)

11“When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord’s. 13Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.

I think the answer is ultimately in verse 16.

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