In Brachot 3b David gives his ministers the advice to go to war to bring Parnassah. Then they asked the Urim and Thumim. Is waging war for economic reasons halahically justified?

  • 3
    Seems like your question answers itself.
    – shmosel
    Mar 26 at 4:11
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    @TamirEvan because one should not kill others if ones life is not in danger ? Mar 28 at 0:09
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    possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57774/759
    – Double AA
    Mar 28 at 1:25
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    It is permitted provided an offer of terms of surrender is made first ... אִם הִשְׁלִימוּ וְקִבְּלוּ שֶׁבַע מִצְוֹת שֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְּנֵי נֹחַ עֲלֵיהֶן אֵין הוֹרְגִין מֵהֶן נְשָׁמָה וַהֲרֵי הֵן לְמַס/If the enemy accepts the offer of peace and commits itself to the fulfillment of the seven mitzvot that were commanded to Noah's descendents, none of them should be killed. Rather, they should be subjugated ... (Rambam, Laws of War, 6:1)
    – GratefulD
    Mar 28 at 16:23
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    @VyacheslavYosefDobrovych "because one should not kill others if ones life is not in danger ?" (1) If that is your premise, [I believe] you should be more explicit about it, in the question. (2) That rule would also exclude warring with the 7 Canaanite nations, or with Amalek, both of which fulfill positive commandments. Also, there is the whole category of "milchemet hareshut, i.e., a war fought with other nations in order to expand the borders of Israel or magnify its greatness and reputation".
    – Tamir Evan
    Mar 29 at 7:29

2 Answers 2


Rabbi David Bleich addresses this in his Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol III:

It may well be the case that preemptive war undertaken in order to prevent future attack is justified as a milḥemet reshut analogous to war for territoral aggrandizement or economic gain. The Gemara, Berakhot 3b and Sanhedrin 16a, seemingly indicates that discretionary war is warranted, not only when undertaken in order to enlarge the territory of the Land of Israel, but also when motivated by economic considerations. Dispensation for such war is subject to approval of the Sanhedrin and acquiescence of the urim ve-tumim. Acquiescence of the urim ve-tumim is tantamount to explicit divine sanction. Positing this requirement implies recognition that war may be undertaken only upon divine behest. Divine sanction for war in limited situations may be forthcoming even when there exists no imminent threat. Accordingly, it may be understood that it is not economic gain per se, or territorial aggrandizement or enhancement of the prestige of the monarch which justifies war; rather any cogent benefit may serve as justification, subject to divine approval as conveyed through the intermediacy of the urim ve-tumim. Hence, prevention of a possible, albeit remote, danger is no less worthy a motive than economic gain. Therefore, according to the Sages, preemptive war is encompassed within the category of milḥemet reshut but participation in such warfare fails to constitute a mizvah. However, R. Judah's view, which raises such participation to the level of fulfillment of a mizvah, but not to that of ḥovah or a mandatory undertaking, requires further clarification.

As an addendum it is worth referring to the footnote no.42 there which notes:

Cf., however R. Reuben Margulies, Margaliyot ha-Yam, Sanhedrin 16a, secs. 22 and 23, and idem, Niẓoẓei Or, Berakhot 3b, who asserts that the hostilities in question were not undertaken for stark economic advantage but were directed against marauding bands who disrupted the economy.


It is justified. We see (In Brachot 3b) David gives his ministers the advice to go to war to bring Parnassah. Then they confirmed with the Urim and Thumim.

Since we know that King David never sinned (even with Batsheva), we know that waging war for economic reasons is halahically justified.

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