Wednesday 7 August 2019

Guy Brandon on Gleaning

The Jubilee Centre has published a piece from Guy Brandon, the fourth in an occasional series on the laws in Leviticus, this one looking at the instructions in 19:9-10 related to not reaping to the very edges of a field.

Here are a few paragraphs which capture the gist:

‘The intentional wastefulness of Leviticus 19:9-10 may not sit well with the modern mindset. Productivity and efficiency are vital for maintaining our ever-rising GDP. Time is money, as Benjamin Franklin said – an utterly corrosive idea that has permeated almost everything we do. So, too, are we indoctrinated with the idea that we must get the most out of every resource – including the land, with intensive farming methods that use up the soil and require the constant addition of new fertilisers, and chemicals to maximise yields.

‘But in the Bible, wringing the most out of the land was like wringing every hour and minute out of the week: something that was not just unnecessary, but undesirable. The Bible warns us that an obsession with the “good” of productivity actually prevents us from doing real good: looking after the alien, the orphan and the widow. Permitting gleaning served a kind of double purpose in this respect. It offered direct benefit to the most marginalised in society, who could come and gather leftover crops – just as Ruth does in Boaz’s fields. But it also served as a visible and tangible reminder to better-off Israelites that they were not to prioritise their own harvest and prosperity at the expense of those who struggled to find their next meal.’

The article is available here, and from here as a pdf in the Jubilee Centre’s Engage magazine.

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