Gleaning

The law which God gave to the Israelites included a provision for caring for the poor among them:

When ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.

And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:9-10; see also Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19-22

He’s basically telling them to be a little sloppy, a little imprecise: Don’t harvest everything. Leave a little behind for the poor.

Soon after Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth went out to gather food in the only way she could: by taking advantage of this provision of the law:

Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.”

Ruth 2:2, New Living Translation

I’ve been thinking today about Ruth’s willingness to perform such a humiliating task. I don’t know the economic situation of her family back in Moab, but when she left them behind to follow her mother-in-law to Israel, she may have left behind a better economic situation.

Her willingness to glean, and her diligence in gleaning, caught the attention of the reapers. As one of them reported to Boaz, the owner of the field:

She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.

Ruth 2:7, New Living Translation

Boaz was impressed.

This reminds me of Ammon, the son of King Mosiah, who offered to become a servant to King Lamoni (Alma 17:25). After miraculously rescuing the king’s flocks from marauders, Ammon quietly continued fulfilling his duties. King Lamoni exclaimed, “Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them” (Alma 18:10).

As I’ve written before, it’s not surprising that Ammon had developed this humble work ethic, because his father and his grandfather had both labored with their hands in order to minimize their people’s burden. (See Mosiah 2:14, Mosiah 29:40.)

Today, I will cheerfully do the work that needs to be done, however menial it may seem. I will strive to emulate the humble diligence of Ruth and Ammon.

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