Motives for the conquest of Canaan

A reader comments:

One thing with which I must take issue, though, is your point on page 26, that the ban that was placed on the spoils of Jericho in some way indicates that the conquest of Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel) was not materialistic. Surely you know that Jericho was an exception and not the rule. In fact, in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:11-12, the B’nei Yisrael (Children of Israel) are told of the material bounty of the Canaanites that awaits them, and are encouraged to enjoy it. While I certainly believe, as a frum (religious) Jew, that Hashem’s motives for driving the Seven Nations out of Eretz Yisroel were spiritual and not material, abstaining from the spoils of one city does not seem like a valid proof of the point, any more than a farmer’s observance of the law of Orlah would indicate that he is not growing fruit trees for the sake of human consumption.

Rabbi Stern responds:

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. The truth is, I tried to write the book for as broad of an audience as possible, which is a very difficult dance. There are probably a few places where I could have been more specific, but I oversimplified things to make a general point that I was trying to address. This would be one of those cases. The main point I was trying to address is the assumption that the conquest by B’nei Yisrael was for the sole purpose of materialistic gain. That is how critics look at these sections of Tanach (Scripture), treating Am Yisroel (the Jewish nation) as if they had the same motivations that most other nations have when they conquer land.

You make a good point. I should be more specific and make the observation that the fact that it was not done specifically for materialistic gain does not preclude the fact that G-d rewarded us with materialistic gains upon conquest.

Motives for the conquest of Canaan

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