Leviticus 19:9
And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) And when ye reap.—Benevolent consideration for the poor is another means whereby the Israelite is to attain to that holiness which will enable him to reflect the holiness of God. As the Lord is merciful to all, and provides for the wants of every living creature (Psalm 145:15-16), the Israelite, too, is to regard the wants of the needy. By this injunction the Law moreover establishes the legal rights of the poor to a portion of the produce of the soul, and thus releases him from private charity, which, in its exercise, might have been capricious and tyrannical.

The harvest of your land.—The expression “harvest,” which is subject to this law, the administrators of the law during the second Temple defined to consist of the following produce of the soil (1) all edible and nutritious plants, but not those used for dyeing and colouring; (2) plants which are cultivated, but not those which grow wildly; (3) those which strictly belong to the soil, but not mushrooms, sponges, &c, since these are not so much dependent upon the soil for their growth, but upon humidity, and grow also upon wet wood, &c; (4) those which ripen at the same time of the year and are all gathered in at the same time, thus excluding figs and similar fruits of trees which are gathered later and gradually, and (5) the produce which is not for immediate consumption, but is garnered up, thus excluding vegetables.

Thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field.—The extent of the “corner” to be thus left for the poor, like that of filial duty and the study of the Divine law, has designedly been left undefined by the administrators of the law. It is among the things which have “no fixed measures.” But though the maximum is not given, the minimum is stated to be no less than the sixtieth part of the field. The corner was generally left at the end of the field, so that the poor could easily get at it. The time when the poor came was morning, noon, and at the evening sacrifice, which was about three o’clock in the afternoon. The morning was intended for the accommodation of those mothers who had young children, who were then asleep; the middle of the day to accommodate the nurses, whilst the evening suited the elderly people.

The gleanings of thy harvest.—The expression “gleaning” is defined by the authorities during the second Temple to be the ears which fall from the hand or from the sickle in the time of reaping, provided that the quantity which has thus dropped from the hand of the plucker or cutter does not exceed one or two ears. When these ears have thus been dropped they belong to the proprietor and not to the gleaner. If a wind arose after the corn had all been cut, and scattered the harvest over the gleanings, the field was measured, and a certain quantity was allotted as gleanings; if the owner had gathered in all the harvest without leaving any gleanings, he was obliged to give a certain portion to the poor, though the corn had been ground into flour and baked; and if the harvest was lost or burnt after he had thus gathered it without leaving the gleanings, he was beaten with stripes.

Leviticus 19:9-10. Thou shalt not gather the gleanings of thy harvest — They were not to be exact in carrying all off, but were to leave some part to be gleaned and reaped by their poor neighbours, whether Israelites or Gentiles. And thou shall not glean thy vineyard — When they had cut off the great bunches, they were not to examine the vine over again for the scattered grapes or small clusters, but leave them for the poor and stranger. Strangers are joined with the poor, because they could have no possessions of land among the Hebrews, and therefore were often poor. I am the Lord your God — Who gave you all these things, with a reservation of my right in them, and with a charge of giving part of them to the poor. This, and many other laws which provide for the indigent, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, show the genius of the Jewish religion to have been much more humane than we are apt to conceive, from examining the lives of its narrow-minded professors.19:1-37 laws. - There are some ceremonial precepts in this chapter, but most of these precepts are binding on us, for they are explanations of the ten commandments. It is required that Israel be a holy people, because the God of Israel is a holy God, ver. 2. To teach real separation from the world and the flesh, and entire devotedness to God. This is now the law of Christ; may the Lord bring every thought within us into obedience to it! Children are to be obedient to their parents, ver. 3. The fear here required includes inward reverence and esteem, outward respect and obedience, care to please them and to make them easy. God only is to be worshipped, ver. 4. Turn not from the true God to false ones, from the God who will make you holy and happy, to those that will deceive you, and make you for ever miserable. Turn not your eyes to them, much less your heart. They should leave the gleanings of their harvest and vintage for the poor, ver. 9. Works of piety must be always attended with works of charity, according to our ability. We must not be covetous, griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay claim to, nor insist upon our right in all things. We are to be honest and true in all our dealings, ver. 11. Whatever we have in the world, we must see that we get it honestly, for we cannot be truly rich, or long rich, with that which is not so. Reverence to the sacred name of God must be shown, ver. 12. We must not detain what belongs to another, particularly the wages of the hireling, ver. 13. We must be tender of the credit and safety of those that cannot help themselves, ver. 14. Do no hurt to any, because they are unwilling or unable to avenge themselves. We ought to take heed of doing any thing which may occasion our weak brother to fall. The fear of God should keep us from doing wrong things, though they will not expose us to men's anger. Judges, and all in authority, are commanded to give judgment without partiality, ver. 15. To be a tale-bearer, and to sow discord among neighbours, is as bad an office as a man can put himself into. We are to rebuke our neighbour in love, ver. 17. Rather rebuke him than hate him, for an injury done to thyself. We incur guilt by not reproving; it is hating our brother. We should say, I will do him the kindness to tell him of his faults. We are to put off all malice, and to put on brotherly love, ver. 18. We often wrong ourselves, but we soon forgive ourselves those wrongs, and they do not at all lessen our love to ourselves; in like manner we should love our neighbour. We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour. Ver. 31: For Christians to have their fortunes told, to use spells and charms, or the like, is a sad affront to God. They must be grossly ignorant who ask, What harm is there in these things? Here is a charge to young people to show respect to the aged, ver. 32. Religion teaches good manners, and obliges us to honour those to whom honour is due. A charge was given to the Israelites to be very tender of strangers, ver. 33. Strangers, and the widows and fatherless, are God's particular care. It is at our peril, if we do them any wrong. Strangers shall be welcome to God's grace; we should do what we can to recommend religion to them. Justice in weights and measures is commanded, ver. 35. We must make conscience of obeying God's precepts. We are not to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God. And the nearer our lives and tempers are to the precepts of God's law, the happier shall we be, and the happier shall we make all around us, and the better shall we adorn the gospel.See Deuteronomy 24:19-21. "Grape" signifies fallen fruit of any kind; and "vineyard" a fruit garden of any kind. Compare Deuteronomy 23:24.

The poor - is the poor Israelite - "the stranger" is properly the foreigner, who could possess no land of his own in the land of Israel.

9, 10. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field—The right of the poor in Israel to glean after reapers, as well as to the unreaped corners of the field, was secured by a positive statute; and this, in addition to other enactments connected with the ceremonial law, formed a beneficial provision for their support. At the same time, proprietors were not obliged to admit them into the field until the grain had been carried off the field; and they seem also to have been left at liberty to choose the poor whom they deemed the most deserving or needful (Ru 2:2, 8). This was the earliest law for the benefit of the poor that we read of in the code of any people; and it combined in admirable union the obligation of a public duty with the exercise of private and voluntary benevolence at a time when the hearts of the rich would be strongly inclined to liberality. No text from Poole on this verse. And when ye reap the harvest of your land,.... Of the land of Canaan, when come into it, which having sown, and it was harvest, either barley harvest or wheat harvest, or both, and especially the latter, to which reaping seems best to agree:

thou shall not wholly reap the corner of the field; but a part was to be left for the poor. This follows upon the peace offerings: and, as Aben Ezra observes, as the fat of them was to be given to God, so somewhat of the harvest was to be given for the glory of God to the poor and stranger. In the Misnah is a whole treatise, called "Peah", which signifies "the corner", in which there are many decisions concerning this affair; and among the rest, whereas it is not fixed in the law how large the corner should be, what quantity should be left, how many ears of corn, or what a proportion of the field, this is there determined by the wise men, who say, they do not leave less than a sixtieth part; for though they say there is no measure (certain) for the corner, yet the whole is according to the largeness of the field, or according to the multitude of the poor, or according to the plenty of the increase (l), so that, as these were, more or less were left: and though the place to be left is called a corner, it was a matter indifferent in what part of the field it was; for so it follows, they give (or leave) the corner at the beginning of the field, or in the middle (m); and Ben Gersom observes, that the corner was at the end of the field, where the harvest is finished; and it is plain where the harvest is finished, he says, the corner should be left; for the law does not precisely determine, only that part of the corner should be left to the poor; and it is of no consequence to the poor whether it is in the middle of the field or in the end of it; but Maimonides (n) thinks it was to be left at the end of the field, that the poor might know where to come for it: and in the above treatise the times are also set when the poor should come and gather it, which they might not do at any time; and there were three times on a day they had leave to come, in the morning, in the middle of the day, and at the evening sacrifice (o), i.e. about three o'clock in the afternoon; the morning was appointed, as the commentators say (p), for the sake of women that had young children, who were then asleep, the middle of the day for the sake of nurses, and the evening for the sake of ancient persons:

neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest; ears of corn which fall from the hand or sickle of the reaper, or in gathering the reaps to bind up in sheaves. In the above treatise it is asked, what is a gleaning? that which falls in reaping; if the reaper reaps his handful, or plucks up an handful, and a thorn strikes him, and it falls out of his hand to the ground, lo, it is the owner's; but if out of the middle of his hand, or out of the middle of the sickle, it is the poor's; if from the further part of his hand, or of the sickle, it is the owner's; but if from the top of his hand (or tip of his fingers) or the point of the sickle, it is the poor's (q): and it is further said (r),"two ears are a gleaning, but three are not,''and so Jarchi on the text, that is, when three fall together; this is according to the school of Hillel, but according to the school of Shammai, if there were three ears that fell together, they were the poor's, if four they belonged to the owner.

(l) Misn. Peah, c. 1. sect. 2.((m) Ibid. sect. 3.((n) Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 2. sect. 12. (o) Misn. Peah. c. 4. sect. 5. (p) Maimon & Bartenora in ib. (q) Ib. sect. 10. (r) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Peah, c. 6. sect. 5.

And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9–11. Cp. Leviticus 23:22. The law of gleaning: a portion of the produce of the soil is to be left for the poor. A similar law is found in Deuteronomy 24:19-21. The word translated ‘the fallen fruit’ (‘every grape,’ A.V.) occurs only here in O.T., but is of common occurrence in Mishnaic Heb. to denote a particular object as distinguished from the general name of the class to which it belongs. The traditional interpretation is that the grapes were to be gathered in bunches, but a single grape was to be left, as well as those that fell to the ground during the gathering. The law is expressed in 2nd pers. sing. and in Leviticus 23:22.Verses 9, 10. - The injunction contained in these verses, to not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither... gather the gleanings of thy harvest, is twice afterwards repeated (Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22). In Deuteronomy, the oliveyard is specified together with the harvest-field and the vineyard, and it is added that, if a sheaf be by chance left behind, it is to remain for the benefit of the poor. The object of this law is to inculcate a general spirit of mercy, which is willing to give up its own exact rights in kindness to others suffering from want. The word here used for vineyard covers also the oliveyard. The expression, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard, would be more literally rendered, neither shalt thou gather the scattering of thy vineyard, meaning the berries (grapes or olives)which had fallen or which were left singly on the boughs. The first thing required is reverence towards parents and the observance of the Lord's Sabbaths-the two leading pillars of the moral government, and of social well-being. To fear father and mother answers to the honour commanded in the decalogue to be paid to parents; and in the observance of the Sabbaths the labour connected with a social calling is sanctified to the Lord God.
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