God’s Welfare System

In Leviticus 19 the Lord provided for the poor.  

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. And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

The workers in the field did not harvest the corners of the field. They did not go through the field a second time, harvesting what they missed the first time. If they dropped some, they did not pick it up. The poor could come to the field and glean the field. They picked what was missed by the workers. They picked up what the workers had dropped. And they harvested the corners of the field.

This law provided for Ruth and Naomi when they returned to Bethlehem from Maob with nothing.

Naomi and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest… Ruth said to Naomi, Let me go to the field, and glean ears of corn… And Naomi said to her, Go, my daughter. And she went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. (Ruth 1:22, 2:2-3)

The servant that was set over the reapers told Boaz… she came, and has continued even from the morning until now… Boaz instructed his men to… let some of the handfuls fall on purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them. Ruth gleaned in the field until evening, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah (bushel) of barley. (Ruth 2:6-7,16-17)

In God’s welfare system, the poor worked for what they got. In this way, the poor were able to maintain their dignity.


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