Deuteronomy 24:19
When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Deuteronomy 24:19-22. It shall be for the stranger — Moses here exhorts them to be mindful of those provisions made for the poor by this law, (Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 23:22,) wherein they are ordered not to be over exact in reaping the fruits of their fields and vineyards, but to leave something to be gathered by their poor neighbours. When thou beatest thine olive-tree — As they were wont to do, with sticks, to bring down the olives. It shall be for the fatherless, &c. — Surely nothing can be more just, humane, or merciful, than all these laws here recited.

24:14-22 It is not hard to prove that purity, piety, justice, mercy, fair conduct, kindness to the poor and destitute, consideration for them, and generosity of spirit, are pleasing to God, and becoming in his redeemed people. The difficulty is to attend to them in our daily walk and conversation.Compare the marginal references. The motive assigned for these various acts of consideration is one and the same Deuteronomy 24:18, Deuteronomy 24:22. 19-22. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field—The grain, pulled up by the roots or cut down with a sickle, was laid in loose sheaves; the fruit of the olive was obtained by striking the branches with long poles; and the grape clusters, severed by a hook, were gathered in the hands of the vintager. Here is a beneficent provision for the poor. Every forgotten sheaf in the harvest-field was to lie; the olive tree was not to be beaten a second time; nor were grapes to be gathered, in order that, in collecting what remained, the hearts of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow might be gladdened by the bounty of Providence. No text from Poole on this verse.

When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field,.... Whether barley harvest or wheat harvest, when either of them are ripe for cutting, mowing, or reaping, and are cutting down:

and hast forgot a sheaf in the field; Jarchi says the phrase "in the field" is to include standing corn, some of which is forgotten in cutting down, and so is subject to this law as well as a sheaf; and a sheaf claimed by this name is one that is forgotten both by the workman and the owner; if by the one and not by the other, it could not be so called. The canon runs thus (t),"a sheaf which the workmen forget, and not the owner, or the owner forgets, and not the workman, before which the poor stand, or is covered with straw or stubble, is not a forgotten sheaf.''And about this they have various other rules;"a sheaf that is near the gate (of a field), or to an heap (of sheaves), or to oxen, or to instruments, and left, the house of Shammai say it is not to be reckoned a forgotten sheaf; but the house of Hillell say it is;--two sheaves are reckoned forgotten, three are not; a sheaf in which there are two seahs (about a peck and a half), and they leave it, it is not reckoned forgotten (u):"

thou shall not go again to fetch it; which supposes a remembrance of it, or some intelligence about it when at home, and after the field has been cleared, and all carried in but this sheaf; then the owner might not go nor send to fetch it: the beginnings of the rows, they say, show when a sheaf is forgotten, or not; particularly the adverse sheaf, or that over against it, shows it (w); so Jarchi:

it shall be for the stranger; or proselyte; the proselyte of righteousness; of this there is no doubt, but it seems to be for the proselyte of the gate also:

for the fatherless and for the widow; which of them soever should first find it:

that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands; in the culture of their ground the next year, and give them large and fruitful crops; they either purposely leaving the sheaf for the poor, or however suffer them to take it unmolested when found by them. The Targum of Jonathan is, "that the word of the Lord thy God may bless thee", &c.

(t) Misn. Peah, c. 5. sect. 7. (u) Misn. Peah, c. 6. sect. 2, 5, 6. (w) Ib. sect. 3, 4.

When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19–22. Of Generosity to the Landless. To the gçr, the orphan and the widow shall be left the gleanings of fields, olive-groves and vineyards. It is interesting that no parallels are found in the earlier legislation of J or E. H, Leviticus 19:9 f. forbids the full reaping of the corners of the field and gathering of the gleanings (repeated Deuteronomy 23:22) and the gleaning of the vines and their fallen fruit; these are for the poor and the gçr. This seems not earlier (Dillm., etc.), but later than D, for the deliberate reservation of the corners is a more developed provision than the allotment of what was left through carelessness. Why D alone includes olives is not clear, except that this agrees with its careful regard of the details of rural life. Both laws sanction an existing practice described in Ruth 2 as dependent on the generosity of the cultivator.

Was there anything more behind it? Attention has been drawn to the fact that some peoples leave the last sheaf on the field under the superstition that it contains the corn-spirit, and being therefore dangerous is easily relinquished to strangers (Frazer, Golden Bough, ii. 171 f., 232 f.). I am told that in the shires of Lincoln and Norfolk it was the practice till 60 or 80 years ago to shape part of a sheaf into a ‘corn-baby’ and to bury it in the field, in order to ensure the next crop. It is possible that in some cases the custom of leaving the gleanings to the poor may have started from such superstitions. But those who see in these the sole origin of the custom ignore the natural promptings of the hearts of simple, peasant peoples to care for the needy. There are no traces of the superstition in D, H or Ruth 2. D’s appeal to the self-interest of the harvesters (that thy God may bless thee, etc.) is rather one of his many illustrations of his favourite principle that obedience to God’s ethical demands will be rewarded by prosperity (cp. Deuteronomy 14:29, Deuteronomy 15:4 f., 10, 18, Deuteronomy 23:20; cp. Deuteronomy 17:20). Otherwise the motives of the laws are purely humane and in both sets the humanity is enforced by religious considerations. In D the motive is characteristically gratitude to God (Deuteronomy 24:22), in H it is as characteristically the simple fact: I am Jehovah thy God.—The duties enforced are observed at this day in Palestine. ‘The poorest among the people, the widow and the orphan, are not infrequently seen following the reapers’; and ‘the poor are often seen after the gathering in of the crop going from tree to tree and collecting the few olives that may have been left’ (Van Lennep, Bible Lands, etc., 78, 128). ‘It is natural with them not to gather stray ears or to cut all the standing ones which would be looked upon as avarice; every bad act is avoided as much as possible “before the blessing,” as the corn is very often called; the law of Moses … is innate with them. The produce of the gleanings … may enable a widow to have bread enough for the winter’ (Baldensperger, PEFQ, 1907, 19). On the Arabs kindness to the sojourner see Doughty, i. 345.

Verses 19-22. - (Cf. Leviticus 19:9, 10; Leviticus 23:23.) Not only was no injustice to be done to the poor, but, out of the abundance of those in better estate, were they to be helped. Deuteronomy 24:19Directions to allow strangers, widows, and orphans to glean in time of harvest (as in Leviticus 19:9-10, and Leviticus 23:22). The reason is given in Deuteronomy 24:22, viz., the same as in Deuteronomy 24:18 and Deuteronomy 15:15.
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