Six times in the Bible, specific reference is made to a “double portion.” When someone receives a double portion, he gets a gift twice as much as that given to others.
The concept of the double portion is first mentioned in the Law of Moses: “But he shall acknowledge the firstborn . . . by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his” (Deuteronomy 21:17). A firstborn son was entitled to receive twice the inheritance of that of a father’s other sons, in addition to the right of succession.
Because Hannah could not have children, her husband tried to assuage her grief with an extra blessing. “But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her” (1 Samuel 1:5).
Near the end of Elijah’s time on earth, he offered his assistant Elisha a gift: “What can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Elisha answered, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me” (2 Kings 2:9). Elisha’s request was to be considered the successor of Elijah and to be “doubly blessed” with power in the prophetic office. Throughout 2 Kings, the many miracles Elisha performed confirm that he had indeed been granted a double portion.
Isaiah 61:7 promises a double portion of joy and blessing upon Israel: “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” The reign of the Messiah during the millennium will occasion everlasting joy. In a related passage, God restored to Job twice as much as he originally had before his time of testing: “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). It could be said that Job received a “double portion.”
Not all double portions convey blessing, however. Revelation 18:6 speaks of judgment upon Babylon, stating, “Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.” Here, the double portion indicates a heavy judgment. The idea behind the term is still that of a “great amount.”
Since the Mosaic Law stipulated a double portion for firstborn sons, the concept has been used throughout history to refer to God’s abundant blessing. Jesus Christ is called the “firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), a title that indicates His position as the Blessed One and rightful Heir of all things.