So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the LORD commanded him. The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273. The LORD also said to Moses, “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine. I am the LORD. Numbers 3:42-45
Why did the Lord select the Levites to be his? What did that mean? Why was it done? The firstborn son was always the favored son. He was the strength of the father. He received a double portion of the inheritance. During the Passover, when the Lord killed all the firstborn sons of Egypt, whether animal or man, yet He passed over all the firstborn sons of Israel. As the nation leaves Egypt God tells Moses to consecrate to Him every firstborn male, whether animal or man. The animals were sacrificed to God, while the firstborn sons were redeemed. This was a sign for the generations to come, when your sons ask “What does this mean?” you say to them that the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of slavery, with a mighty hand. When Pharaoh refused to let us go, the Lord killed every firstborn male offspring. That is why I sacrifice every firstborn male and redeem every firstborn son.
The redeeming of the firstborn sons first took place with the Levites. The Levites were taken in place of the firstborn sons of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be the Lord’s. The Lord gives the Levites to the priests to maintain and care for the tabernacle. Why the Levites are chosen out of the 12 tribes is not certain, but it could be due to the Levites being the smallest of the tribes, or because it is the tribe Moses and Aaron are from, or perhaps because the Levites showed the heart of God when they went throughout the Israelites killing those that reveled in idolatry with the golden calf. Whatever the reason, God chose them. They had no inheritance in the land. God was their inheritance. There is nothing that each of us did to deserve eternal life, but thanks be to God He provided a way for everyone to be saved through Jesus Christ.