Manners & Customs
Allowing Neighbors to Eat Grain
THE FARMER'S LAW OF HOSPITALITY
Eating grain in the field. When the grain in the wheatfield has passed the "milk-stage," and has begun to harden, it is then called "fereek" and is considered to be delicious to eat raw. Natives of the land will pluck the heads, and then rub them in their hand and eat them. For centuries the unwritten law of hospitality has been that wayfarers may eat of the wheat as they pass by or through a field, but they must not carry any away with them.29
The law of GOD allowed this same privilege. "When thou comest unto the standing corn (i.e. grain) of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor's standing corn" (Deuteronomy 23:25). When the Pharisees criticized the disciples, it was not for eating wheat as they passed through a wheat field, but rather for doing it on the sabbath day (Luke 6:1,2).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Leaving Grain for the Poor
Grain left for the poor. The Mosaic Law also had a provision in it to help take care of the poor, in connection with the grain harvest. "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger" (Leviticus 23:22).
Ruth the Moabitess made use of this provision as a stranger in the land, and so gleaned in the field of Boaz (Ruth, Chapter 2). The Arab farmers of today still carry out this ancient custom, although they may not be acquainted with the Biblical precept concerning it. They would not think of touching the corner of their field when harvesting. It is left for the poor and stranger. It may be collected later into a great heap, but it is then given to the poor, or used to maintain a guest chamber. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]