In the book of Numbers, chapter three, we see YHVH instruct Moses on the redemption of the Israelites. Beginning in verse 45 “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord. And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites; Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them.”
There was a price to be paid for those that called upon the name of YHVH as Lord and King. We can see this exampled for us by our Savior and his family in the narrative in Luke.
Luke 2:21-35 King James Version
“And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; [this a direct reference to Exodus 13:12]
“And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” [Leviticus 12:7-8]
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
“And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, [This is Numbers 3:45]
“Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
When a firstborn son was born the parents dedicated that child to God in gratitude, then after 30 days, they redeemed that firstborn son BACK by going to the priesthood and paying the redemption price as prescribed in Numbers.
Theoretically if that redemption did NOT occur, that firstborn son was obligated to lifetime service in the Temple to God, or to the priesthood, or both. There were some parents who determined that they DID want their firstborn son to be in service to God; and so they intentionally did NOT redeem him. We can see this particularly in the Nazarite vow, whereby, a child is offered into service to God before he’s even born.
John the Baptist was also not redeemed even though he was a firstborn. Why? he was a Levite!! His father was a priest and his mother was of the line of Aaron. John the Baptist was not eligible for redemption. This passage does not mention the amount given for Jesus’ redemption but it would have been the standard amount of 5 shekels because it didn’t matter whether the family was rich or poor, the cost of redemption was the same for every Hebrew firstborn.
As believers we have to come to grips with the fact Jesus was 100% man, and so was under the provisions of the Torah as was any other man; and yet He was 100% God and so he WAS the Torah, and therefore unlike any being the world had ever known. This is what assures us of our own redemption from the bonds of sins and delivers us safely to the Father.