Shabbat Parashat Bereshit | 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Conquests of David and Shlomo - From Eretz Hemdah I,4:8
[We continue, after a break for the chagim, our series on the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael.]
David Hamelech conquered Aram Tzova and Aram Damesek, and reached, to the north, the Euphrates River (Divrei Hayamim I, 18). These areas, known as Suria, had the status of kibush yachid (a private conquest), whose status we discussed elsewhere. We find also that David conquered the lands of Ammon and Moav (Shmuel II, 8, 10, 12). However, there is no Talmudic discussion about the status of these lands. Tosafot (Bava Batra 56a) assumes that only those areas that had previously been taken from Ammon and Moav by Sichon could be incorporated into Eretz Yisrael. The lands that Bnei Yisrael captured directly from Ammon and Moav did not become part of Eretz Yisrael.
What is the difference between the territory of Ammon and Moav and that of Suria? We can infer the distinction from the careful wording of Rashi (Sota 44b), that David fought against Aram Tzova “to add it on to Eretz Yisrael, and against its surroundings to receive tribute and taxes of servitude.” Since David did not have in mind to actually take possession of these surrounding areas, likely including Ammon and Moav, kedusha was not bestowed upon them. One can claim that even if taking charge in regard to levying taxes is considered conquest, that only creates sanctity of the Land within the original, halachic borders of Eretz Yisrael. According to the Ramban that the prohibition to conquer Ammon and Moav was a mitzva for all generations, David was halachically precluded from annexing these lands. Rashi apparently does not mean that David failed to incorporate the lands of Ammon and Moav due to halachic problems in taking them. This is apparent from the fact that he lumps together those lands with others in the area, regarding which there is no prohibition.
There isn’t explicit mention in Tanach about whether David or Shlomo conquered areas south of the Masei borders. It appears from the lack of Talmudic discussion on the matter that no lands in that area were incorporated. However, this can possibly be explained by the fact that there were areas of northeastern Eretz Yisrael which were never conquered. According to the opinion that conquest of land outside Eretz Yisrael proper is possible only after all of Eretz Yisrael has been secured, it would have been halachically impossible for this area to be incorporated into Eretz Yisrael.
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