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Leviticus 19:9

Leviticus 19:9

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 F12, 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 F13; 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 F14 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 F16, 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 F17: 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.


FOOTNOTES:

F12 Misn. Peah, c. 1. sect. 2.
F13 Ibid. sect. 3.
F14 Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 2. sect. 12.
F15 Misn. Peah. c. 4. sect. 5.
F16 Maimon & Bartenora in ib.
F17 Ib. sect. 10.
F18 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Peah, c. 6. sect. 5.
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