Did You Know?
What was the custom of gleaning, and who benefited from it?
▪ The Mosaic Law prohibited farmers from stripping their land of all of its produce. Instead, those who harvested grain were not to reap the edges of the fields completely. Those who gathered grapes were not to pick up those that were scattered or go back again to harvest those that were immature the first time. And those who beat the boughs of the olive trees were to leave the fruit that did not fall. (Leviticus 19:9, 10; Deuteronomy 24:19-21) The poor, the orphans, the widows, and the alien residents could then glean—or pick up—the leftovers of the harvest.
This law regarding gleaning benefited all Israelite society. In the landowner, it encouraged generosity, unselfishness, and reliance on God’s blessings. In those who gleaned, it promoted industriousness, for gleaning was hard work. (Ruth 2:2-17) Gleaning ensured that the poor would not go hungry or become a burden on the community. It also spared them the indignity of having to beg or having to rely on handouts.
Why did Solomon import timber all the way from Lebanon for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem?
▪ The account at 1 Kings 5:1-10 describes an agreement made between Solomon and Hiram, king of Tyre. According to that agreement, rafts of cedar and juniper logs were to be brought to Israel by sea from Lebanon and used in the construction of the temple.
Cedar was an important trade item in the ancient Middle East. In Egypt and Mesopotamia, this timber was regularly used for the beams and paneling of temples and palaces. Royal archives, literary texts, and inscriptions attest to the continual importation of cedar to various southern Mesopotamian city-states, sometimes as booty or tribute. In Egypt it was used in the construction of royal barges, coffins, and other funerary items.
The cedars of Lebanon were particularly renowned for the durability, beauty, and sweet fragrance of their wood, not to mention their resistance to attack by insects. Thus, Solomon was using the best of materials for the temple. Today, all that remains of the forests of cedars that once covered the Lebanese mountains are a few small, isolated groves.
[Picture on page 15]
Transport of Lebanese cedar, Assyrian relief from the palace of Sargon
Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY