The gathering of things planted, a natural time of reaping in joy what has been produced during the year in an agricultral community. Jesus reflects the Bible's theological viewpoint on harvest when he enjoins believers to ask the "Lord of the harvest" for laborers ( Matt 9:38 ). God stands in control of the harvest time; it is part of his work ( Jer 5:24 ; Amos 4:7 ).
Human Response. In an agrarian society such as that reflected in the Bible, a human response to God came with planting and reaping. Offerings came from the fullness of one's harvest ( Exod 22:29 ). At least two festivals focused on harvest. The Festival of Harvest or firstfruits came in the spring, fifty days after Passover ( Exod 23:16 ). The Festival of Booths fell at the end of harvest in the fall.
Farmers needed to do their part in planting to be able to reap ( Prov 6:8 ). But the focus in harvest revolved around the product and the work of the Lord in bringing it to completion. Even during harvest, the Sabbath rest was to be kept so that the focus would remain on the Lord ( Exod 34:21-22 ). Of course, great joy accompanied the harvest ( Isa 9:3 ).
The firstfruits came to the priest, who would offer them to the Lord. If a person brought them, then the Lord might accept them ( Lev 23:10-11 ), an acceptance perhaps reflected in the successful completion of the harvest in the fall, a "blessing" ( Deut 24:19 ; Psalm 107:37-38 ). Some of the harvest remained in the fields for the poor ( Lev 19:9 ; 23:22 ).
Acknowedgment of the Lord's part in the harvest was important, perhaps best seen when crops failed, usually attributed to the Lord for the failure of Israel to recognize God's part ( Isa 17:11 ; Amos 4:7 ; Hag 1:6 ). Metaphorical uses of the word stem from this viewpoint.
Metaphorical Usage. Metaphorical usage of harvest takes on a positive sense when Jeremiah refers to Israel as God's fruitfruits of harvest ( 2:3 ). In the New Testament, believers may sow and reap a spiritual harvest of righteousness ( 2 Cor 9:10 ).
However, most usages allude to judgment. The prophets indicate that the Lord destroyed the harvest in judgment ( Isa 18:4-6 ; Jer 12:13 ). As God of the harvest, the Lord speaks and takes it away ( Hosea 2:9 ). In fact, Israel herself becomes a harvest ( Hosea 6:11 ). The nation of Babylon comes to "harvest" her ( Jer 51:33 ). The judgment of God uses a familiar image in the life of Israel, but it does not carry the joy experienced at the seasonal gathering. Israel turned away from the Lord and suffered a punishment like a harvest.
Jesus described the last judgment in a parable about harvest ( Matthew 13:30 Matthew 13:39 ). The Jews of his day understood the connection of harvest and judgment. Judgment is the focus again in the words of the angel in Revelation 14:15.
G. Michael Hagan
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the season for gathering grain or fruit. On the 16th day of Abib (or April) a handful of ripe ears of corn was offered as a first-fruit before the Lord, and immediately after this the harvest commenced ( Leviticus 23:9-14 ; 2 Sam Leviticus 21:9 Leviticus 21:10 ; Ruth 2:23 ). It began with the feast of Passover and ended with Pentecost, thus lasting for seven weeks ( Exodus 23:16 ). The harvest was a season of joy ( Psalms 126:1-6 ; Isaiah 9:3 ). This word is used figuratively Matthew 9:37 ; 13:30 ; Luke 10:2 ; John 4:35 . (See AGRICULTURE .)
har'-vest (qatsir; therismos):
To many of us, harvest time is of little concern, because in our complex life we are far removed from the actual production of our food supplies, but for the Hebrew people, as for those in any agricultural district today, the harvest was a most important season (Genesis 8:22; 45:6). Events were reckoned from harvests (Genesis 30:14; Joshua 3:15; Judges 15:1; Ruth 1:22; 2:23; 1 Samuel 6:13; 2 Samuel 21:9; 23:13). The three principal feasts of the Jews corresponded to the three harvest seasons (Exodus 23:16; 34:21,22);
(1) the feast of the Passover in April at the time of the barley harvest (compare Ruth 1:22);
(2) the feast of Pentecost (7 weeks later) at the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22), and
(3) the feast of Tabernacles at the end of the year (October) during the fruit harvest.
The seasons have not changed since that time. Between the reaping of the barley in April and the wheat in June, most of the other cereals are reaped. The grapes begin to ripen in August, but the gathering in for making wine and molasses (dibs), and the storing of the dried figs and raisins, is at the end of September. Between the barley harvest in April and the wheat harvest, only a few showers fall, which are welcomed because they increase the yield of wheat (compare Amos 4:7). Samuel made use of the unusual occurrence of rain during the wheat harvest to strike fear into the hearts of the people (1 Samuel 12:17). Such an unusual storm of excessive violence visited Syria in 1912, and did much damage to the harvests, bringing fear to the superstitious farmers, who thought some greater disaster awaited them. From the wheat harvest until the fruit harvest no rain falls (2 Samuel 21:10; Jeremiah 5:24; compare Proverbs 26:1). The harvesters long for cool weather during the reaping season (compare Proverbs 25:13).
Many definite laws were instituted regarding the harvest. Gleaning was forbidden (Leviticus 19:9; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19) (see GLEANING). The first-fruits were required to be presented to Yahweh (Leviticus 23:10). In Syria the Christians still celebrate 'id er-rubb ("feast of the Lord"), at which time the owners of the vineyards bring their first bunches of grapes to the church. The children of Israel were enjoined to reap no harvest for which they had not labored (Leviticus 25:5). In Proverbs the harvesting of ants is mentioned as a lesson for the sluggard (Proverbs 6:8; 10:5; 20:4).
A destroyed harvest typified devastation or affliction (Job 5:5; Isaiah 16:9; 17:11; Jeremiah 5:17; 50:16). The "time of harvest," in the Old Testament frequently meant the day of destruction (Jeremiah 51:33; Hosea 6:11; Joel 3:13). "Joy in harvest" typified great joy (Isaiah 9:3); "harvest of the Nile," an abundant harvest (Isaiah 23:3). "The harvest is past" meant that the appointed time was gone (Jeremiah 8:20). Yahweh chose the most promising time to cut off the wicked, namely, "when there is a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest" (Isaiah 18:4,5). This occurrence of hot misty days just before the ripening of the grapes is still common. They are welcome because they are supposed to hasten the harvest. The Syrian farmers in some districts call it et-tabbakh el'ainib wa tin ("the fireplace of the grapes and figs").
In the Gospels, Jesus frequently refers to the harvest of souls (Matthew 9:37,38 bis; Mt13:30,39; Mr 4:29; Joh 4:35). In explaining the parable of the Tares he said, "The harvest is the end of the world" (Matthew 13:39; compare Revelation 14:15).
See also AGRICULTURE.
James A. Patch
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