In ancient days, Israelites had a distinct agricultural practice that set them apart from the nations. “When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 23:22).

The idea of this agricultural charity is simple – Israelites were not to harvest everything but rather leave the edges of their fields so that members of their community in need could gather the remaining crops and feed themselves. Curiously, God did not specify how much of one’s land should remain unharvested. That was left up to the individual’s conscience. Israel is commanded to share their harvest blessings with both their needy brethren and foreigners leaving among them.

The Hebrew word for the “corner” of the field in this verse is פֵּאָה (peah). It can mean an “edge,” “border,” “boundary,” “side,” or “corner.” It can even mean “forehead” or “temple” because they are considered the “edge of one’s face”. You may be familiar with the Jewish cultural practice of not shaving or cutting the פֵּאֹת (peot) “corners or edges of the beard.” This may seem like a very strange commandment.  Why would God care how the Israelites styled their hair (Lev 19:27)?

Just as God expected his people to leave some produce on the corners of their fields for the poor, God also wanted Israel to be constantly reminded of this social responsibility. Their obligation to care for the neediest in their community should have been so ingrained in their lives that they would wear a reminder of this obligation on their faces. In this way, one’s identity (and one’s appearance) is inseparably tied to God’s will for His people.

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66 COMMENTS

  1. Your emails are so enlightening and beneficial to me as a Christian. Do you get negative feedback on these articles? I am just curious.
    • Shalom, Thank you for your kind words. Not much... usually honest disagreement. Especially when we suggest things that challenge their holy cows :-). But generally speaking, people are like you, very glad to see interpretations that are fairly new, but still biblically solid. You should join our program sometime soon. What you read here is the tip of the iceberg.

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  2. Thanks Eli for the teaching about the corners..... what fascinates me is that the men had beards and not to cut them......which is a constant reminder BUT how did or do the women remember their social responsibilities? Also I really enjoy your new book and highly recommend it ...... pam
    • Thanks, Pam. I think the women just had to look at their men :-)! Prov. 31 has a woman engaged in caring for the poor.
  3. I. Always thaught lev19-27 had more to do with avoiding infection from blades than just something to do with hair cut. The under line of this is to stay as your were created .same with the restriction with tatoos and scaring .
  4. I am Andrew Vena and i appreciate all your emails and enjoy each one of them, they just bring more understanding of the Gospel to me, may our Good Lord just keep on blessing you Dr., i am from St. Francis Bay in Soth Africa, bless you sir
    • In Lev 19:28 Israel received instructions about not cutting their bodies or decorating their bodies with markings. This was to differentiate from the nations who practiced it to mark their identity and express their religious worship. Israel was not allowed to emulate pagan worship in any way.

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    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Stories of Jewish Church I: Acts 1-5 or . You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
  5. Was not cutting meant for side burns or for hair? I see the orthodox Jews in my city and often wonder if their tradition of the long curls on the side are a misinterpretation of something? Please forgive me if that comes off as offensive or arrogant. I know what it's like for others to question something in my culture they know nothing about. I admit to ignorance and just want to satisfy my curiosity as I do love and appreciate God's chosen people. Learning about them, especially ancient times, increases my knowledge of what the Holy Scriptures is teaching
    • No offense taken. As you see the Bible does say for Israelites to style the sides of their beard in a certain way. And there are some deeply spiritual reasons behind that. Now some people get carried away with that. But this is what we do :) all of us... people like to take things too far.
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  6. I see no connection between the cutting of beards and fields. The context seems to be completely different. One has to do with helping the poor, but the other seems to be a warning against any association with paganism.
    • Robert, sorry you do not see the connection. I do not insist upon PSHAT, literal level of interpretation here. But pagans did not leave the corners of the fields for the poor, they harvested them clean. God's chosen people are called to be different and that is simply a visual and verbal similarity. In both cases the word is PEOT (corners)
  7. Doc, You posted "That was left up to the individual’s conscience. Israel is commanded to share their harvest blessings with both their needy brethren and foreigners leaving among them." I've been saying the individual’s conscience applied to tithes as well as all support for the needy in general. "God Loves a cheerful giver" was not a NT revelation. Please help me out, I have yet to find in the Tanach or other Jewish writings any enforcement mechanism. i.e. tithing police. Have I missed something?
  8. The Apostle Paul states plainly that when all this finishes up, All Israel Shall be accounted, not all Israelites, But all of what I have pretty well swallowed from former teachers, not all Israelites but all of what I read is known as the Tabernacle of David. Just want to know before I get totally involved more with you all where you stand. When I began teaching the Two Houses, I was told I was going to catch Hell but it had to preached. The prophecy was correct.
    • The term "Israel" stands for the people of Israel, i.e. Israelites, i.e the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who later in history became known as Jews. So I am not sure what your question is but Rom 11:26 does not say anything about "counting" or "accounting", the word is "saved", "rescued" or "delivered". Its all in the Greek of Paul's letters. Not sure how any of this has anything to do with my post. :)
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