The word, though casually taken in Holy Writ in a metaphorical sense, is most generally used by the sacred writers to designate the first male child in a family. The first-cast male animal is, in the English Bibles, termed "firstling". The firstlings, both human and animal, being considered as the best representatives of the race, because its blood flows purest and strongest in them, were commonly believed, among the early nomad Semitic tribes, to belong to God in a special way.
Emmanual signifies "God with us" (Matthew.1:23), and is the name of the child predicted in Isaiah 7:14: "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel". The various views advanced as to the identity of the child cannot be fully explained and discussed here; the following observations must suffice: