Pidyon haben

Pidyon haben
Pidyon HaBen P6020102.JPG
Halakhic texts relating to this article
Leviticus 12:2–4
Shulchan Aruch:Yoreh De'ah 305

The pidyon haben (Hebrew: פדיון הבן) or redemption of the first-born (if male and not by Caesarean)[1] is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is "redeemed" by use of silver coins from his birth-state of sanctity, i.e. from being predestined by his firstborn status to serve as a priest.

The redemption is attained by giving five silver coins to a Kohen (a patrilineal descendant of the priestly family of Aaron).

Biblical references

In the Hebrew Bible the laws (see mitzvah) concerning the redemption of the first-born male are referred to in Exodus, Numbers and Leviticus:

Exodus 13:13–o916 Every firstborn of man among your sons, you shall redeem. And it will come to pass that if your son asks you in the future, saying, “What is this?” you shall say to him, “With a mighty hand did God take us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass when Pharaoh was too stubborn to let us out, God slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt."

The redemption price was set at 5 shekels for each of 273 surplus firstborn Israelites over and above the Levite totals (there was no separate census for firstborn Levites):

Numbers 3:45–47 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborns among the children of Israel . . . You shall take five shekels per head, according to the holy shekel, by which the shekel is twenty gerahs.