According to the Rambam that you need a Melech for a milchemes mitzvah, how does the Rambam understand all the milchamos in the book of Shoftim?

  • Who says they were milchemet mitzvah?
    – Joel K
    Nov 27, 2023 at 13:30
  • Fantastic question - could even ask in general. We asked for a King, and Hashem gave one to us reluctantly, so it seems there is in theory a Jewish people without a King bichlal.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 27, 2023 at 13:36
  • 2
    How do you know though, that it's only a milchemet mitzva if we have a King?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 27, 2023 at 13:37
  • 1
    Quoting the Rambam in question would help
    – Lo ani
    Nov 27, 2023 at 16:45
  • Killing out the seven nation is a milchemes mitzvah and the passage in the rambam that you need a king is Sefer hamitzvot the frankel edition page 202 and the rambam hilchos melachim fifth perek number 1 sounds like you need one
    – Josh
    Nov 27, 2023 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


I believe Rambam is clear a to why they are in Sefer Hamitzvot, Mitzvah 187:

היא שצונו להרוג שבעה עממין שישבו בארץ כנען ולאבדם, שהם שורש ע"ז ויסודם הראשון. והוא אמרו יתעלה החרם תחרימם. ובאר לנו בהרבה כתובים שסבת זה כדי שלא נלמוד מכפירתם. והנה באו כתובים רבים לרמוז על זה רוצה לומר על הריגתם לחזק בזה, ומלחמתם מלחמת מצוה.

And that is that He commanded us to kill the seven nations that dwelled in the Land of Canaan and to destroy them, since they are the root of idolatry and its first base. And that is His, may He be exalted, saying, "you must surely annihilate them" (Deuteronomy 20:17). And He explained to us in many verses that the reason for this is so that we do not learn from their heresy. And many verses come to hint about this - meaning their killing - to strengthen it; and the war against them is a commanded war.

The war of the 7 nations is the quintessential Milchemet mitzvah! It is a war that God literally commanded us explicitly to wage. We think of a Milchemet Mitzvah as a war that we decide to wage, for a proper purpose, that meets certain criteria, such as having a king. But it also certainly includes a war that is an explicit mitzvah in the Torah.

Now, not all the wars in sefer shoftim are with the 7 nations. But I am unsure as to why there is an asumption those were a milchemet mitzvah.

  • The assumption would be at least that the wars right after yehoshua died were with the seven nations no reason to assume other wise
    – Josh
    Dec 1, 2023 at 13:22
  • And if they weren’t milchemet mitzvah rather milchemes reshus then you’re worst off
    – Josh
    Dec 1, 2023 at 13:23

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