A Closer Look At "Pe'ah" - Ruth's Gleaning of the Field
"She said, Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters." Ruth 2:7 NIV
Most who read the Book of Ruth enjoy it for the wonderful story of loyalty, of desperation and needs fulfilled, of compassion and proper observances and of course, for being a multi-faceted story of love. (See the Book of Ruth in the Bible).
"The Field of Ruth" can still be seen today at the Village of Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem, in the fertile valley known for its grain harvests.by which comes its ancient name "Ephratah". Aspects of the story that pre-figured the wonderful role that Christ accomplished was the role that Boaz performed as "Kinsman Redeemer" for the interest(s) of Naomi and Ruth. The term means to redeem, receive or buy back and is a provision in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 25:25-28). The role also reminds many of how the Lord God redeemed His people Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians.
Another aspect of the story of Ruth that is central to the record is Ruth's gleaning of grain in the field owned by Boaz. It is the hinge pin around which the story develops into better days for Ruth and Naomi, and there is a great meaning in it as well for those who see it.
The practice in the story of not harvesting the corners and margins of one's field is also required by Scripture:
‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God." Leviticus 19: 9&10 KJV
It was to be left for the poor and for the stranger, and there is the meaning (the stranger) that some will miss. The "poor" are the poorest of the brethren (Hebrews) and the "strangers" are Gentiles. The Lord God commanded that His people not treat non-Hebrew people like Egypt had treated them. The strangers among them were Gentiles, and they were to be provided for as well through the practice of leaving a portion of the field to be gleaned by them. This is called "Pe’ah" - Gleaning the corners.
This aspect of providing for all who came to the field to glean and gather also pre-figured the provision of our Lord God to include Gentiles in His plan of salvation, and His Son to be our Redeemer too. There are so many of these kinds of revelations in Scriptures that lend to a better understanding that can settle the mind and heart into a deeper faith and appreciation. Such is one of the pleasures of the Bible.
Note: "lakat" - to glean (Hebrew)
About the Author
Sim Lee is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.