Don't get me wrong, I'm not an aggressor, but conquest and war are always in our set of tools (see Yaakov's preparations to meeting his brother).

IIRC Hittim people were idolaters and doomed to be either exterminated or expelled from the Holy Land anyway. We saw Avraham's military force, taking over numerous kings singlehandedly so he would surely and easily beat them.

War conquest is a legitimate way of owning lands, not less than buying with money.

Why was Avraham nice to Hittim and offered to buy the place instead of simply threatening them with war and conquering the place?

  • I think this delves into the bigger picture of how Avraham treated the land that he was in. I.e., even though the land had been promised, he was also told that his children would inherit it after being exiled, and then returning to the land. Thus, Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akov did not treat the land as their own, yet, because it wasn't yet theirs to own. This coincides with Avraham's initial claim to the Chitim, "I am a stranger and a resident in your land." – DanF Nov 25 '19 at 18:27
  • @DanF Please see my answer which addresses your question. – user6591 Nov 25 '19 at 21:27

Avraham did threaten to take the land by force as well as offering to pay for it.

See Rashi 23:4 from Medrash Rabba.

גר ותושב אנכי עמכם. גֵּר מֵאֶרֶץ אַחֶרֶת וְנִתְיַשַּׁבְתִּי עִמָּכֶם. וּמִדְרַשׁ אַגָּדָה אִם תִּרְצוּ הֲרֵינִי גֵּר, וְאִם לָאו אֶהְיֶה תּוֹשָׁב וְאֶטְּלֶנָּה מִן הַדִּין, שֶׁאָמַר לִי הַקָּבָּ"ה לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת:

גר ותושב אנכי עמכם I AM A STRANGER AND A SETTLER WITH YOU — A stranger having come from another land, but I have settled down amongst you. A Midrashic explanation is: if you agree to sell me the land then I will regard myself as a stranger and will pay for it, but if not, I shall claim it as a settler and will take it as my legal right, because the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me, (12:7) “Unto thy seed I give this land" (Genesis Rabbah 58:6).

As to the obvious question, how can Avraham threaten to take the land by force when he and his shepherds were the ones who disagreed with Lot and his shepherds about taking the land? See the mefarshei Rashi who explain that Avraham only disagreed with Lot while he had no son, a contingency in the promise of receiving the land. Once he had Yitzchok, he had full rights to the land. That is why Rashi chose to focus on a passuk that included 'לְזַרְעֲךָ , to your children'.

Regarding Avraham's generous offer and hidden threat, remember the sage advise: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick; you will go far." Theodore Roosevelt.

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  • Very nice, thank you. How does תושב imply any rights on the land? – Al Berko Nov 25 '19 at 19:57
  • It's the opposite of a ger. A ger a sojourner who doesn't belong there, a toshav is someone settled who belongs there. – user6591 Nov 25 '19 at 20:09
  • Like בני ישראל in Egypt? ומושב בני ישראל... – Al Berko Nov 25 '19 at 20:10
  • :) I can't answer that. But I think it's simply turning a גר into a גר תושב, someone we understand as belonging. Consider asking a question here explaining the intention of Rashi/Medrash. – user6591 Nov 25 '19 at 21:26
  • +1 - and when I commented, I was thinking of Rashi's explanation, as well. The גר תושב term sounds like an oxymoron, at least based on your 1st response comment to @AlBerko. Worth asking a separate Q regarding the use of this term. Ger, here, does not mean "convert". – DanF Nov 25 '19 at 23:13

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