Deuteronomy 23:24, 25
24. When thou comest into thy neighbor's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.
24. Quum ingressus fueris vineam proximi tui, comedes uvas pro desiderio tuo ad satietatem tuam: at in vase tuo non pones.
25. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor's standing corn.
25. Quum ingressus fueris segetem proximi tui, decerpes spicas manu tua: at falcem non attolles in segetem proximi tui.
Since God here concedes a great indulgence to the poor, some restrict it to the laborers in the harvest and vintage,1 as if He permitted them to pluck the ears of corn and grapes with their hands for food alone, and not to carry away. I have no doubt, however, that it refers to all persons, and that no greater license is given than humanity demands. For we must not strain the words too precisely, but look to the intention of the Lawgiver. God forbids men to introduce a sickle into the harvest of another; now, if a man should pluck with his hands as many ears of corn as he could carry on his shoulders, or lay upon a horse, could he excuse himself by the puerile explanation that he had not used a sickle? But, if common sense itself repudiates such gross impudence, it is plain that the Law has another object, viz., that no one should touch even an ear of another man's harvest, except for present use, which occurred to Christ's disciples, when they were compelled by hunger to rub the ears of corn in their hands, lest they should faint by the way. (Matthew 12:1.) The same view must be taken as to grapes. If any man deliberately breaks into another's vineyard and gorges himself there, whatever excuse he may make, he will be accounted a thief. Wherefore, there is no doubt but that this Law permits hungry travelers to refresh themselves by eating grapes, when they have not enough of other food. But although the liberty of eating to their fill is granted, still it was not. allowable oil this pretext to gorge themselves. Besides, vineyards were enclosed with hedges and guarded; whence it appears that the grapes were not exposed to every glutton. This, then, is the sum, that it is not accounted a theft, if a traveler, in order to relieve his hunger, should stretch forth his hand to the hanging fruit,2 until he should arrive at his resting-place where he may buy bread and wine.
1 "The Chaldee translateth, when thou art hired; and of such do the Hebrews understand this Law, that laborers hired to work in a vineyard are to eat of the fruit thereof." -- Ainsworth. So also Vatablus from the Chaldee and Arabic, in Poole's Synopsis.
2 "Cueille des espis, ou des raisins pour sa necessite," should gather ears of corn or grapes for his necessary wants. -- Fr.