Monday, December 05, 2011

Symbol 2 - Sheaf of Grain

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My Jesse Tree
Started on December 4th...

Today's symbol for my Jesse Tree is the.......

 Sheaf of Grain
Ruth 2:1-23

The 2nd chapter of the Book of Ruth tells of an old custom known as gleaning.  Israelite landowners were forbidden to pick their fields clean.  Harvesters were supposed to leave any grain that dropped to the ground. Religious law specified that a corner of the field had to be left for the poor.

This was the way early society provided some kind of an economic safety net for the poor.  Gleaning was based on the idea that the land does not really belong to anyone other than God.  Humans may have possession of it, but only if they used the land with respect for the laws of the real landowner, God.  The division between the rich and poor was there, like it is today, but gleaning made it clear that the rich have an obligation to the poor. 

Gleaners worked very hard for the grain they gathered.  It was probably harder than harvesting, because it involved picking up individual pieces of grain rather than whole sheaves.  It was a workfare program (not welfare) where people worked, bent over, looking for bits of hope.

Ruth was a gleaner in the fields of a wealthy farmer named Boaz.  Because of her obedience and loyalty, they married and had a son, Obed, who later becomes the grandfather of David and an ancestor of Jesus.