The first Rashi on Genesis says:

Rabbi Isaac said: The Torah, which is the Law book of Israel, should have commenced with the verse (Exodus 12:2) “This month shall be unto you the first of the months” which is the first commandment given to Israel. What is the reason, then, that it commences with the account of the Creation?

Because of the thought expressed in the text (Psalms 111:6) “He declared to His people the strength of His works (i.e. He gave an account of the work of Creation), in order that He might give them the heritage of the nations.”

For should the peoples of the world say to Israel, “You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan”, Israel may reply to them, “All the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whom He pleased. When He willed He gave it to them, and when He willed He took it from them and gave it to us”.

Rashi lived in 1040-1105. During most of his life, the land of Israel was occupied by Muslims; since 1099 it was occupied by crusaders. The last time it was ruled by Jews was almost 1000 years earlier, during the time of the Second Temple. What, then, does Rashi refer to when he cites people saying "You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan"? When exactly, during Rashi's time, did people say this to Jews?

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    Rashi is just quoting someone (a Rabbi Isaac). You're asking about the wrong timeperiod.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 24 at 2:37
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    @DoubleAA sure, but Rashi chose this specific Midrash out of thousands of possible Midrashim on the first verse, so I thought there is a more specific reason. Commented Jan 24 at 6:27
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    Isn't it awesome that that Rashi is still so relevant today?
    – The GRAPKE
    Commented Jan 24 at 10:17
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    שֶׁאִם יֹאמְרוּ אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, this is a conditional. IF they should ask you. What makes you think they actually asked Rashi etc this?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 24 at 11:57
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    @RabbiKaii Because you can say "if" on millions of different hypothetical questions. What made Rashi think of this particular question, among all the others? Commented Jan 24 at 13:40


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