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REAPING (קָצַר, H7917, כָּלָה, H3983; θερίζω, G2545). The act of cutting or gathering the produce of the fields, usually in the late summer.

In Bible times, as in primitive areas today, reapers cut the grain with a sickle or pulled it up by the roots. In Leviticus, there is legislation regarding reaping. The people were to leave the corners of the field for the poor to reap (Lev 19:9; 23:22). In the seventh and fiftieth years, they were to reap none at all.

Sowing and reaping served to illustrate investment and reward. As an example, Proverbs 22:8 has, “He who sows injustice will reap calamity.” Somewhat the opposite is in Psalm 126:5: “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!” In the Book of Revelation, “he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped” (14:16). See Agriculture.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Reaping in ancient times, as at present, consisted in either pulling up the grain by the roots or cutting it with a sickle (see Sickle), and then binding the stalks into bundles to be carried to the threshing-floor. If the Egyptian sculptures are true to life, reaping was sometimes divided into two operations, the heads of grain and the stalks being reaped separately. In Palestine and Syria both pulling and cutting are still practiced, the former when the ground is stony and the spears scarce. Even where the sickle is used, much of the grain comes up by the roots, owing to the toughness of the dried stalks or the dullness of the sickle. The reaper sometimes wears pieces of cane on the fingers of the hand which gathers the grain in order to protect them from injury by the sharp grasses or the sickle. There were definite laws established by the Hebrews in regard to reaping (Le 19:9; 23:10; 25:5,11; De 16:9). Samuel mentions the task of reaping the harvest as one of the requirements which would be made by the king for whom the people were clamoring (1Sa 8:12).


See Agriculture; Gleaning.

James A. Patch