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OT references are mainly agricultural with regulatory laws covering crop production and festivals of thanksgiving. God’s blessing was reflected in the harvest. The NT refers more to the spiritual sowing and reaping that takes place in the kingdom of God.

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Laws of purity related to planting


Reapers are to leave gleanings for the poor

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Harvest celebrations

Exodus 23:16 NRSV
You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall observe the festival of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.
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The Sabbath-rest for the land and its cultivators

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Reaping a good harvest is a blessing from God

It is a consequence of obedience

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It is a promise to the remnant of God’s people

Amos 9:13–14 NRSV
The time is surely coming, says the Lord, when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps, and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
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Moral and spiritual sowing and reaping

A poor yield of crops

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The harvesting of one’s crops by others

Leviticus 26:15–16 NRSV
if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
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Proverbs and poems of sowing and harvest

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Moral and spiritual sowing and reaping

Good and evil

Job 4:8 NRSV
As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
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Sowing and reaping in the kingdom of God

Mark 4:3–8 NRSV
“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
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The certainty of reaping


Reaping where others have sown

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Reaping a material harvest from spiritual sowing

1 Corinthians 9:9–11 NRSV
For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop. If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits?

Joel 3:13 NRSV
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
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Metaphorical use of sowing and reaping

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