The firstborn of an unclean animal had to be redeemed by an estimation of the priest, with the addition of one-fifth (Lev 27:27; Num 18:15). According to Exod. 13:13; 34:20, the firstborn of an ass was either ransomed by a sheep or lamb, or its neck had to be broken.
Figuratively, Israel was God’s “firstborn” (Exod 4:22; Jer 31:9) and enjoyed priority status. God compared His relationship to Israel with the relationship of a father and his firstborn son. Within Israel, the tribe of Levi represented the firstborn of the nation in its worship ceremony (Num 3:40-41; 8:18).
Christ is the “firstborn” of the Father (Heb 1:6 NIV) by having preeminent position over others in relation to Him. He is also described as “firstborn” among many brothers” (Rom 8:29 HCSB) and “firstborn over all creation” (Col 1:15 HCSB). Paul (Col 1:18) and John (Rev 1:5) refer to Christ as “firstborn from the dead” -the first to rise bodily from the grave and not die again.
Hebrews 12:23 refers to the “assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven” (HCSB). Christian believers, united with an as joint heirs with Christ, enjoy the status of “firstborn” in God’s household.