Deuteronomy 24:18-22 (JDV)
Deuteronomy 24:18 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and Yahveh your God redeemed you from there. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.
Deuteronomy 24:19 “When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the guest, the fatherless, and the widow, so that Yahveh your God may empower you in all the work of your hands.
Deuteronomy 24:20 When you knock down the fruit from your olive tree, do not go over the branches again. What remains will be for the guest, the fatherless, and the widow.
Deuteronomy 24:21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left. What remains will be for the guest, the fatherless, and the widow.
Deuteronomy 24:22 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.
The law of leavings was a way of demonstrating that the covenant community of Israel remembers their bondage in Egypt. When they were slaves, Pharaoh made them work hard for everything they got. Now that they are free from that bondage, they were not to treat the poor among them as slaves. Instead, they were to provide their leftovers free for the taking. In this way, they demonstrated the difference between the two communities.
How do we treat the poor among us? Do we stick them in government programs that rob them of their dignity and foster dependence? That’s not the way to treat the needy. Instead, we need to find ways of helping the poor to escape their poverty and provide for their families.
I am not saying that redeeming the poor is easy. But if we are serious about living God’s way, we have to come up with better answers.
Lord, make us a community of redeemers, not a community of enslavers.