Jump to: ISBEWebster'sThesaurusGreekHebrewLibrarySubtopicsTermsResources
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The state of being the firstborn of the same parents; seniority by birth among children of the same family.

2. (n.) The exclusive right of inheritance which belongs to the eldest son. Thus in England the right of inheriting the estate of the father belongs to the eldest son, and in the royal family the eldest son of the sovereign is entitled to the throne by primogeniture. In exceptional cases, among the female children, the crown descends by right of primogeniture to the eldest daughter only and her issue.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

1. Recognition of Doctrine:

The right of the firstborn to inherit the headship of the family, carrying with it certain property rights and usually such titles as those of the high-priesthood or kingship. The writings of the Hebrews take for granted the recognition of a doctrine of primogeniture from the earliest times. In the most ancient genealogies a distinction is drawn between the firstborn and the other son (Genesis 10:15; Genesis 22:21; Genesis 25:13; Genesis 35:23; Genesis 36:15). In the bestowal of parental blessings in patriarchal times great importance was attached to preferring the firstborn (Genesis 25:31; Genesis 27:29; Genesis 48:13; Genesis 49:3). The feud between Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27:1-28:21) grew out of the stealing of the firstborn's blessing by the younger brother. Joseph was displeased when, in his blessing, Jacob seemed to prefer Ephraim to Manasseh, his firstborn (Genesis 48:18). 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 Isaac, through those of Jacob in the matter of Reuben and Joseph and in the matter of Ephraim and Manasseh, down to the days of David in the selection of a successor to the kingship. Nevertheless, the Mosaic code, which declared (rather than enacted) the law of primogeniture, prohibited the abuse of this parental privilege in the case of a younger son by a favorite wife (Deuteronomy 21:16 f).

2. The Double Portion:

The manner of acknowledging the firstborn incidentally referred to in Deuteronomy is "by giving him a double portion of all that he hath" (Deuteronomy 21:17), that is to say, double the share of each of the other brothers. Jewish tradition (Bekho. 46a, 47b, 51a, 51b; Babha' Bathra' 122a, 122b, 123a, 124a, 142b) accepts and elaborates on this right of the firstborn son. Thus, it applies only to the firstborn and not the eldest surviving son; it does not apply to daughters; it has reference only to the paternal estate, and not to the inheritance left by a mother or other relative, nor to improvements or accessions made to an estate after the death of the father.

3. Reasons for the Custom:

The object of the doctrine may be that the eldest son might be enabled to preside over the affairs of family with proper dignity, or that he might assume additional responsibilities, such as the support of unmarried sisters. Hence, one's birthright could be waived or sold (Genesis 25:31, 34). On the other hand it may be based in the ultimate analysis on the primitive feeling of favoritism for the firstborn reflected in the disappointment of Jacob, when he speaks of Reuben as his firstborn, his might, and the beginning of his strength (re'shith 'on, Genesis 49:3; compare Deuteronomy 21:17). This theory would be in accord with the right of the parent to transfer the right to a younger son. The suggestion of favoritism conveyed by the Hebrew bekhor is manifested in its figurative use: of Israel (Exodus 4:22), of Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:9), of one dearly beloved (Zechariah 12:10); (compare figurative usage in the New Testament: Romans 8:29 Hebrews 12:23; Hebrews 1:6 Revelation 1:5).

4. The Firstborn in Ancient Society; Sacrifice and Redemption:

Light is thrown on the attitude of the ancient world toward the firstborn, and hence, on the history of primogeniture, by the language used in connection with the plague of the firstborn: "from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-born of the maidservant that is behind the mill" or "the captive that was in the dungeon." Apparently no more dreadful catastrophe for all classes of society could be thought of than this slaying of the firstborn (Exodus 11:5; Exodus 12:29). The misguided fervor of the ancient Semites who offered their firstborn as the thing most dearly beloved as a sacrifice to their gods must be considered in this light, whether it appears among the Moabites, the Phoenicians or the Hebrews themselves (Jeremiah 32:35 Ezekiel 20:26, 31 2 Chronicles 28:3). It is difficult to predicate a connection between the basis of the doctrine of primogeniture and that of the Redemption of the First-born, other than that both are ultimately based on the importance of a firstborn son and the fondness of his parents for him. It is interesting to note, however, that the tradition of redemption and the law of primogeniture are kept so distinct that, while the latter has reference only to the firstborn of a father, the former has reference only to the firstborn of a mother (Bekho, viii. l, 46a; compare peTer rechem, "whatsoever openeth the womb," Exodus 13:2). In a polygamous society such as that presupposed in Deuteronomy 21 it is natural to suppose that the distinction between paternal and maternal primogeniture would be clearly before the minds of the people.


Nathan Isaacs

4415. prototokia -- the rights of the first-born
... birthright. From prototokos; primogeniture (as a privilege) -- birthright. see GREEK
prototokos. (prototokia) -- 1 Occurrence. 4414, 4415. prototokia. 4416 > ...
// - 6k
Strong's Hebrew
1064. Bekorath -- "first-born," a Benjamite
... Bechorath. Feminine of bkowrah; primogeniture; Bekorath, an Israelite -- Bechorath.
see HEBREW bkowrah. 1063, 1064. Bekorath. 1065 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/1064.htm - 6k

1062. bekorah -- the right of first- born
... Or (short) bkorah {bek-o-raw'}; feminine of bkowr; the firstling of man or beast;
abstractly primogeniture -- birthright, firstborn(-ling). see HEBREW bkowr. ...
/hebrew/1062.htm - 6k


Death of Constantius, who Leaves his Son Constantine Emperor.
... That primogeniture is a natural law has been often urged, but it seems to
be simply the law of first come first served. The English ...
/.../pamphilius/the life of constantine/chapter xxi death of constantius who.htm

This Doctrine Confirmed by Proofs from Scripture.
... The only right of precedence was that of primogeniture; but that is disregarded,
and the younger is preferred to the elder. Nay, in ...
/.../the institutes of the christian religion/chapter 22 this doctrine confirmed.htm

The Son and the Angels.
... He teaches that the Son of God's love is the visible image of the invisible God,
prior to all creation and by right of primogeniture Heir of all, Creator of ...
/.../the expositors bible the epistle to the hebrews/chapter ii the son and.htm

The Ministerial Office
... From Adam to Noah it is allowed by all that the first-born in every family was of
course the priest in that family, by virtue of his primogeniture. ...
/.../wesley/sermons on several occasions/sermon 115 the ministerial office.htm

Contents and Character of the Extant Works.
... "Did not Jacob lie when he said, I am Esau thy firstborn?" He had bought the precedence
of primogeniture, and therefore spoke the truth when he called himself ...
/.../the ecclesiastical history of theodoret/ix contents and character of the.htm

Chapter xlviii
... in one sense, as we shall see in a moment, Joseph's sons acquire the pre-eminence
that the two first-born should normally have held by right of primogeniture. ...
/.../leupold/exposition of genesis volume 1/chapter xlviii.htm

"In the Volume of the Book it is Written of Me" (Heb. . .
... later as His denier (1 John 2:22). Third, by his primogeniture Cain occupied
the position of ruler. Said the Lord to him, "Unto to ...
// antichrist/in the volume of the.htm

Of Detraction.
... the ring-leader is looked on with a particular severity, so doubtless in this case,
the first provoker has by his seniority and primogeniture a double portion ...
/.../allestree/the government of the tongue/section iv of detraction.htm

Christ Clothed with the True Substance of Human Nature.
... the brethren (Rom.8:29). But primogeniture refers not to age, but to degree
of honour and pre-eminence of virtue. There is just as ...
/.../the institutes of the christian religion/chapter 13 christ clothed with.htm

... his eldest surviving son. But this was not so. The law of primogeniture was
not law for Israel. The invisible King expressly reserved ...
/.../ of the bible some lesser-known/adonijah.htm

... the estate of the father belongs to the eldest son, and in the royal family the
eldest son of the sovereign is entitled to the throne by primogeniture. ...
/p/primogeniture.htm - 13k

Levite (43 Occurrences)
... The religious primogeniture was then conferred on this tribe, which henceforth
was devoted to the service of the sanctuary (Numbers 3:11-13). ...
/l/levite.htm - 26k

Primeval (1 Occurrence)

/p/primeval.htm - 7k

Property (212 Occurrences)
WEALTH. Multi-Version Concordance Property (212 Occurrences). ...
/p/property.htm - 37k

... expansion inland, a growing disaffection with the aristocratic regime in almost
all Greek states and with the operation of the law of primogeniture in land ...
/h/hellenism.htm - 26k

... expansion inland, a growing disaffection with the aristocratic regime in almost
all Greek states and with the operation of the law of primogeniture in land ...
/h/hellenist.htm - 26k

Jacob (361 Occurrences)
... perhaps) the companion and favorite of his mother, found early the opportunity to
obtain Esau's sworn renunciation of his right of primogeniture, by taking ...
/j/jacob.htm - 77k

Judah (802 Occurrences)
... Reuben forfeited the rights of primogeniture by an act of infamy; Simeon and Levi,
who came next in order, were passed over because of their cruel and ...
/j/judah.htm - 101k

Heir (20 Occurrences)
... That the royal dignity went by primogeniture is asserted only (in a particular case)
in 2 Chronicles 21:3, and both David (1 Kings 1:11-13) and Rehoboam (2 ...
/h/heir.htm - 23k

Prince (160 Occurrences)

/p/prince.htm - 53k

Primogeniture: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Top of Page
Top of Page