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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

burth'-rit (bekhorah, from bekhor, "firstborn"; prototokia): Birthright is the right which naturally belonged to the firstborn son. Where there were more wives than one, the firstborn was the son who in point of time was born before the others, apparently whether his mother was a wife or a concubine. Sarah protests against Ishmael being heir along with Isaac, but it is possible that the bestowal of the rights of the firstborn on Isaac was not due to any law, but rather to the influence of a favorite wife (Genesis 21:10). The birthright of the firstborn consisted in the first place of a double portion of what his father had to leave. This probably means that he had a double share of such property as could be divided. We have no certain knowledge of the manner in which property was inherited in the patriarchal age, but it seems probable that the lands and flocks which were the possession of the family as a whole, remained so after the death of the father. The firstborn became head of the family and thus succeeded to the charge of the family property, becoming responsible for the maintenance of the younger sons, the widow or widows, and the unmarried daughters. He also, as head, succeeded to a considerable amount of authority over the other members. Further, he generally received the blessing, which placed him in close and favored covenant-relationship with Yahweh. According to the accounts which have come down to us, all these gifts and privileges could be diverted from the firstborn son. This could happen with his own consent, as in the case of Esau, who sold his birthright to Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34), or by the decision of the father, as in the case of Reuben (Genesis 48:22; Genesis 49:3, 4 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2) and of Shimri (1 Chronicles 26:10). In the Deuteronomic version of the law, a provision is made, prohibiting the father from making the younger son the possessor of the birthright, just because his mother was specially beloved (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). The blessing also could be diverted from the eldest son. This was done when Jacob blessed the children of Joseph, and deliberately put the younger before the elder (Genesis 48:13, 14, 17-19); even when the blessing was obtained by the younger son in a fraudulent manner, it could not be recalled (Genesis 27). Jacob does not appear to have inherited any of the property of his father, although he had obtained both the birthright and the blessing.

In the New Testament "birthright," prototokia, is mentioned only once (Hebrews 12:16), where the reference is to Esau. In various passages where our Lord is spoken of as the firstborn, as in Colossians 1:15-19 Hebrews 1:2, the association of ideas with the Old Testament conception of birthright is easy to trace.


J. Macartney Wilson

4415. prototokia -- the rights of the first-born
... the first-born. Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter Transliteration: prototokia Phonetic
Spelling: (pro-tot-ok'-ee-ah) Short Definition: the birthright Definition: the ...
// - 6k
Strong's Hebrew
1062. bekorah -- the right of first- born
... the right of first- born. Transliteration: bekorah or bekorah Phonetic Spelling:
(bek-o-raw') Short Definition: birthright. ... birthright, firstborn. ...
/hebrew/1062.htm - 6k

1069. bakar -- to bear new fruit, to constitute as first-born
... to burst the womb, ie (causatively) bear or make early fruit (of woman or tree);
also (as denominative from bikkuwr) to give the birthright -- make firstborn ...
/hebrew/1069.htm - 6k


Pottage Versus Birthright
... GENESIS POTTAGE VERSUS BIRTHRIGHT. 'Esau despised his birthright'"Genesis
25:34. Broad lessons ... points:". (a) Birthright."What? None ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture k/pottage versus birthright.htm

Every Believer's Birthright.
... EVERY BELIEVER'S BIRTHRIGHT. ... Sometimes we hear it said that to be filled with the
Spirit is the Christian privilege; but birthright is a stronger word. ...
/.../macneil/the spirit-filled life/chapter ii every believers birthright.htm

Wherefore, Since it is Manifest that the Baptism Remains in the ...
... Nor does any one "yield his birthright, and give it to a heretic," [1509] because
he says that he took away with him what he could not give lawfully, but what ...
/.../chapter 16 wherefore since it.htm

The Story of Jacob
... This was called his "birthright," for it was his right as the oldest born. So Esau,
as the older, had a "birthright" to more of Isaac's possessions than Jacob. ...
/.../marshall/the wonder book of bible stories/the story of jacob.htm

A Bad Bargain
... And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at
the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture k/a bad bargain.htm

The Power of Ambition.
... (Therefore his name was called Edom, Red.) But Jacob said, Sell me first of all
your birthright. ... Thus Esau despised his birthright."Hist. Bible. ...
// making of a nation/study vi the power of.htm

Jacob and Esau
... And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at
the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? ...
/.../kingsley/the gospel of the pentateuch/sermon vi jacob and esau.htm

How Jacob Deceived his Father
... So of what use is this birthright to me?" Jacob said, "First solemnly promise to
give it to me." So Esau solemnly promised and sold his birthright to Jacob. ...
/.../sherman/the childrens bible/how jacob deceived his father.htm

Spiritual Liberty
... REV. CH SPURGEON. At Exeter Hall, Strand. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there
is liberty.""2 Corinthians 3:17. LIBERTY is the birthright of every man. ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 1 1855/spiritual liberty.htm

Psalm XLVII.
... Esau was born first, and Jacob was born last; but he who was last born, was preferred
to the first-born, who through gluttony lost his birthright. ...
/.../augustine/exposition on the book of psalms/psalm xlvii.htm

Smith's Bible Dictionary

the advantages accruing to the eldest son. These were not definitely fixed in patriarchal times. Great respect was paid to him in the household, and, as the family widened into a tribe, this grew into a sustained authority, undefined save by custom, in all matters of common interest. Thus the "princes" of the congregation had probably rights of primogeniture. (Numbers 7:2; 21:18; 25:14) (Gradually the rights of the eldest son came to be more definite: (1) The functions of the priesthood in the family with the paternal blessing. (2) A "double portion" of the paternal property was allotted by the Mosaic law. (21:16-17) (3) The eldest son succeeded to the official authority of the father. The first-born of the king was his successor by law. (2 Chronicles 21:3) In all these Jesus was the first-born of the father.

ATS Bible Dictionary

The privilege of the firstborn son. Among the Hebrews, as indeed among most other nations, the firstborn enjoyed particular privileges; and wherever polygamy was tolerated, it was highly necessary to fix them, De 21:15-17. Besides the father's chief blessing, Genesis 27:1-46, and various minor advantages, the firstborn son was, first, specially consecrated to the Lord,

Exodus 13:11-16 22:29; and the firstborn son of a priest succeeded his father in the priestly office. Among the sons of Jacob, Reuben the firstborn forfeited the right of the firstborn, Genesis 35:22 49:3,4, and God gave it to Levi, Numbers 3:12,13 8:18. Secondly, the firstborn was entitled to a share of his father's estate twice as large as any of the other brethren received, De 21:17. Thirdly, he succeeded to the official dignities and rights of his father, 2 Chronicles 21:3. In some of these privileges there is an allusion to Him, who is "the firstborn among many brethren," Romans 8:29 Colossians 1:18 Hebrews 1:2-6. Universal dominion is his, and an everlasting priesthood.

Easton's Bible Dictionary

(1.) This word denotes the special privileges and advantages belonging to the first-born son among the Jews. He became the priest of the family. Thus Reuben was the first-born of the patriarchs, and so the priesthood of the tribes belonged to him. That honour was, however, transferred by God from Reuben to Levi (Numbers 3:12, 13; 8:18).

(2.) The first-born son had allotted to him also a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). Reuben was, because of his undutiful conduct, deprived of his birth-right (Genesis 49:4; 1 Chronicles 5:1). Esau transferred his birth-right to Jacob (Genesis 25:33).

(3.) The first-born inherited the judicial authority of his father, whatever it might be (2 Chronicles 21:3). By divine appointment, however, David excluded Adonijah in favour of Solomon.

(4.) The Jews attached a sacred importance to the rank of "first-born" and "first-begotten" as applied to the Messiah (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:4-6). As first-born he has an inheritance superior to his brethren, and is the alone true priest.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) Any right, privilege, or possession to which a person is entitled by birth, such as an estate descendible by law to an heir, or civil liberty under a free constitution; esp. the rights or inheritance of the first born.
Birthright (10 Occurrences)
...BIRTHRIGHT. burth'-rit (bekhorah, from bekhor, "firstborn"; prototokia): Birthright
is the right which naturally belonged to the firstborn son. ...
/b/birthright.htm - 15k

Esau (89 Occurrences)
... The name of Edom, "red", was also given to him from his conduct in connection with
the red lentil "pottage" for which he sold his birthright (30, 31). ...
/e/esau.htm - 41k

Isaac (127 Occurrences)
... II. FAMILY AND KINDRED 1. Birth and Place in the Family 2. Relation to
the Religious Birthright 3. Significance of Marriage III. ...
/i/isaac.htm - 60k

Rights (35 Occurrences)
... (WEY DBY). Hebrews 12:16 lest any one be a fornicator, or a profane person, as Esau,
who in exchange for one morsel of food did sell his birthright, (See NIV). ...
/r/rights.htm - 16k

... The father in such cases seems to have had the right to transfer the birthright
from one son to another, from the days of Abraham in the case of Ishmael and ...
/p/primogeniture.htm - 13k

Registered (21 Occurrences)
... Chronicles 5:1 And the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn;
but, inasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given ...
/r/registered.htm - 13k

Enrolled (23 Occurrences)
... 1 Chronicles 5:1 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn;
but, because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to ...
/e/enrolled.htm - 13k

Morsel (14 Occurrences)
... Hebrews 12:16 the King James Version, "For one morsel of meat (the Revised Version
(British and American) "mess of meat") sold his birthright," literally, "for ...
/m/morsel.htm - 11k

Profaning (10 Occurrences)
... to sons of Reuben, first-born of Israel -- for he 'is' the first-born, and on account
of his profaning the couch of his father hath his birthright been given ...
/p/profaning.htm - 9k

Polluted (80 Occurrences)
... 1 Chronicles 5:1 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn;
but, because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to ...
/p/polluted.htm - 31k

Bible Concordance
Birthright (10 Occurrences)

Hebrews 12:16 lest there be any sexually immoral person, or profane person, like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal.

Genesis 25:31 Jacob said, "First, sell me your birthright."

Genesis 25:32 Esau said, "Behold, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?"

Genesis 25:33 Jacob said, "Swear to me first." He swore to him. He sold his birthright to Jacob.

Genesis 25:34 Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils. He ate and drank, rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 27:36 He said, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright. See, now he has taken away my blessing." He said, "Haven't you reserved a blessing for me?"

Genesis 43:33 They sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth, and the men marveled one with another.

Deuteronomy 21:17 But he is to give his first son his birthright, and twice as great a part of his property: for he is the first-fruits of his strength and the right of the first son is his.

1 Chronicles 5:1 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn; but, because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.

1 Chronicles 5:2 For Judah prevailed above his brothers, and of him came the prince; but the birthright was Joseph's:)



Birthright: An Honorable Title

Birthright: Belonged to the First Born

Birthright: Entitled the Firstborn to a Double Portion of Inheritance

Birthright: Forfeited by Reuben

Birthright: Royal Succession

Birthright: Set Aside: Adonijah

Birthright: Set Aside: Hosah's Son

Birthright: Set Aside: That of Manasseh

Birthright: Sold by Esau

Related Terms

Esau (89 Occurrences)

Isaac (127 Occurrences)

Rights (35 Occurrences)


Registered (21 Occurrences)

Enrolled (23 Occurrences)

Morsel (14 Occurrences)

Profaning (10 Occurrences)

Polluted (80 Occurrences)

Sell (58 Occurrences)

Twice (44 Occurrences)

Sold (92 Occurrences)

Listed (48 Occurrences)

Inasmuch (42 Occurrences)

Oldest (58 Occurrences)

To-day (208 Occurrences)

Birth-right (9 Occurrences)

Forasmuch (64 Occurrences)

Couch (55 Occurrences)

First-born (110 Occurrences)

Firstborn (119 Occurrences)

Reckoned (98 Occurrences)

Defiled (119 Occurrences)

Reuben (73 Occurrences)

Belonged (105 Occurrences)

Jacob (361 Occurrences)

Youngest (26 Occurrences)

Ungodly (41 Occurrences)

Lentil (1 Occurrence)

Lentils (4 Occurrences)

Genealogical (26 Occurrences)

Godless (31 Occurrences)

Irreligious (7 Occurrences)

Immoral (16 Occurrences)

Fornicator (3 Occurrences)

Reserved (28 Occurrences)

Riseth (165 Occurrences)

Rightly (45 Occurrences)

Edomites (22 Occurrences)

Exchange (41 Occurrences)

Eateth (81 Occurrences)

Drinketh (33 Occurrences)

Drank (70 Occurrences)

Deceived (55 Occurrences)

Despised (96 Occurrences)

Despiseth (23 Occurrences)

Mess (3 Occurrences)

Marvelled (27 Occurrences)

Profane (69 Occurrences)

Pottage (7 Occurrences)

Parted (67 Occurrences)

Patrimony (1 Occurrence)

Birth-place (1 Occurrence)

Bride-bed (2 Occurrences)

Caring (23 Occurrences)

Astonishment (51 Occurrences)

Sexually (10 Occurrences)

Selling (23 Occurrences)

Strongest (9 Occurrences)

Swore (109 Occurrences)

Sware (90 Occurrences)

Selleth (17 Occurrences)

Soup (10 Occurrences)

Stew (7 Occurrences)

Sweareth (34 Occurrences)

Supplanted (1 Occurrence)

Liver (16 Occurrences)

Accordance (118 Occurrences)

Haven't (87 Occurrences)

Heritage (435 Occurrences)

Plate (34 Occurrences)

Dish (54 Occurrences)

Marveled (31 Occurrences)

Fornication (52 Occurrences)

He's (11 Occurrences)

Amazement (32 Occurrences)

Prevailed (46 Occurrences)

Youth (169 Occurrences)

Swear (99 Occurrences)

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