Daily Word

Laws of Firsts | Nehemiah 10:35-37

35 We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord; 36 also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; 37 and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor. 

Nehemiah 10:35-37 (ESV)

First Fruits vs First Born

The detail continues here with the first fruits and firstborn. These two sacraments are similar in that they share a common higher purpose – to remind the Jews (and us) that they and all they have belongs to the Lord. How are they different?


Exodus 13:1-13 the introduction of this law. The firstborn of man and beast was to be devoted to the Lord. Regarding men, Clarke’s commentary says, “The Lord had a right to all the firstborn, instead of these he was pleased to take the tribe of Levi for the whole; and thus the Levites served at the tabernacle and temple, instead of the first-born of all the tribes.”

First fruits

Leviticus 23:9-14 introduces this law. All the Israelites were to bring the first sheaf of grain (along with other offerings) to the priest who waved it before the Lord so they would be accepted. See Deuteronomy 26:1-10 for more.  “A minute and particular enumeration of the first-fruits was made, that all might be made fully aware of their obligations, and that none might excuse themselves on pretext of ignorance from withholding taxes…” (JFB commentary)

Solomon later wrote, “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10). Check out Gotquestions.org for more info. 

Firstfruits today

What are firstfruits today? Mainly, it is the idea of a future harvest of souls, and resurrection of those souls. 1 Cor 15:20 tells us Jesus’s resurrection is the firstfruits of others (us) who will also be raised. 

Do we still offer firstfruits? Is this a tithe? I don’t believe there is any application of this law to Christians. Rather, we recognize all good gifts come from God (James 1:17), then trust that He blesses those who acknowledge this by giving back to Him, in faith out of gratefulness. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

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