HaShem told Moshe, “Here is what to do. Each of the extra firstborn sons should pay 5 Shekels. This money will free them from service, and will be given to Aharon and his sons.”
Moshe thought to himself, “That’s fine, but who’s to say which 273 firstborns should pay? After all, there are 22,273 firstborns!”
Then Moshe had an idea. He made a lottery!
Here’s how it worked:
He prepared 22,273 slips of parchment – wow, that’s some job, especially before the age of photocopy machines and printers! On 22,000 of them he wrote “Levi,” and on the remaining 273 he wrote “5 shekels.” Each first-born would pick a paper. If he chose one that said “5 Shekels,” he had to pay instead of switching with a Levi.
Great plan indeed!