What does Deuteronomy 24:19-22 really mean?

Deuteronomy 24:19-22 is about God’s command to show compassion and kindness by leaving behind forgotten sheaves, olives, and grapes for those in need, reminding the Israelites to remember their own vulnerability and dependence on God’s provision, and to treat the marginalized and less fortunate with care and generosity.

19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.
21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.
22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.


Setting the Scene for Deuteronomy 24:19-22

In the scene described in Deuteronomy 24:19-22, we find the Israelites in the land that God had promised them. The harvest season is in full swing, and the fields are abundant with crops. Among the people gathered are farmers, widows, orphans, and foreigners who have come to glean from the fields. The farmers have been instructed by God to leave some of the produce behind for these vulnerable members of society.

As the sun sets, the farmers finish their work in the fields and gather the sheaves of grain. They leave behind the forgotten sheaves, the olives missed during the harvest, and the grapes left on the vines. The widows, orphans, and foreigners then come to collect these gleanings, grateful for the provision that God has made for them through the generosity of the farmers.

The scene is one of community and provision, where the Israelites are reminded of God’s command to care for the marginalized and vulnerable in their midst. It is a beautiful picture of God’s compassion and justice, as well as a practical demonstration of how the Israelites are called to live out their faith in everyday life.

What is Deuteronomy 24:19-22 about?

A powerful message about God’s heart for the vulnerable in society is seen in this verse. God highlights the importance of showing compassion and kindness to those in need by commanding generosity towards the poor and foreigners. It is a reminder that we are called to extend a helping hand and share our blessings with others, regardless of their background or circumstances. This directive from God reflects His own character of love, mercy, and provision for all His creation. We reflect on this verse and consider how we can mirror God’s compassion in our own lives. Are we actively seeking out opportunities to help those less fortunate than us? Are we opening our hearts and resources to support those who are in need? Through our acts of generosity towards the poor and foreigners, we not only fulfill God’s command but also demonstrate His love and provision in tangible ways. Let us inspire others by following God’s example and showing care and empathy towards those around us.

Understanding what Deuteronomy 24:19-22 really means

Deuteronomy 24:19-22, nestled within the Mosaic Law, serves as a poignant reminder of the ethical responsibilities and communal care that the Israelites were called to uphold. The passage underscores the significance of social justice and compassion towards the marginalized members of society, such as foreigners, orphans, and widows. It urges a spirit of generosity and selflessness in the act of harvesting, emphasizing the importance of leaving behind a portion of the yield for those in need. This directive not only teaches the virtue of sharing but also cautions against excessive meticulousness that may lead to neglecting the vulnerable among us.

By specifically mentioning the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, the passage highlights the groups that are often overlooked and in need of intentional care and provision. It prompts readers to consider those who may lack the means to support themselves and encourages acts of kindness towards them. The poignant reminder to remember their own history of slavery in Egypt serves as a powerful motivator for the Israelites to extend empathy and compassion to others, mirroring the grace they themselves received in times of distress.

Drawing parallels with related biblical passages such as Leviticus 19:9-10 and the story of Ruth gleaning in Boaz’s field in Ruth 2:2-3, we see a consistent theme of caring for the less fortunate and leaving provisions for those in need. These principles transcend time and culture, as echoed in James 1:27 in the New Testament, emphasizing the enduring importance of looking after orphans and widows. The timeless values of generosity, empathy, and social justice resonate with us today, urging us to be mindful of the needs of the marginalized in our communities.

In a contemporary context, the principles outlined in Deuteronomy 24:19-22 call for practical applications that address modern-day issues of inequality and poverty. Whether through supporting food banks, volunteering time and resources, or advocating for policies that safeguard the vulnerable, we are challenged to embody the spirit of communal care and compassion. Imagine a world where a simple act of leaving behind produce in a community garden can make a significant difference in someone’s life, restoring faith in the kindness of humanity and fostering a sense of belonging and support.

In conclusion, Deuteronomy 24:19-22 serves as a timeless guidepost for us to cultivate a spirit of generosity, empathy, and social responsibility towards those in need. It beckons us to recognize our shared humanity and the interconnectedness of our communities. By embodying these principles in our daily lives, we can contribute to the creation of a more compassionate and just society, where the marginalized are uplifted, and the ethos of communal support thrives.

How can we show kindness to the poor?

One way to show kindness to the poor as mentioned in the verse is by leaving a portion of the harvest and vineyard for them. Those in need can come and gather the remaining produce for themselves by not completely harvesting the fields and vineyards. This simple act of leaving behind for the poor shows compassion and consideration for their well-being.

Another way to demonstrate kindness to the less fortunate is by not going back to retrieve anything that was left behind while harvesting. It shows a level of selflessness and generosity towards those who are in need of support by intentionally leaving the gleanings for the poor without looking back or regretting what was left behind.

Additionally, another way to extend kindness is by providing for the foreigners, orphans, and widows in the community. Sharing resources with those who are vulnerable and in need of assistance exemplifies a spirit of generosity and care towards those who are less privileged. We can uphold the value of kindness and compassion towards our fellow human beings by showing consideration and support to those in need.


Let’s embody the spirit of generosity and kindness found in Deuteronomy 24:19-22, just as God provides for us abundantly. Like leaving parts of the harvest for the less fortunate, let’s share our blessings with those in need in our modern world – our work, our online community, or our neighborhoods. Take a moment to consider how you can support and uplift those who might be struggling. How will you make a difference in someone’s life today?