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The Talmud Bavli Brachot (3b) says that when Jews needed financial assistance and the economy did not have enough money to go around, King David would advise the sages of Israel to confiscate money from (what is commonly translated as) bandits or troops -- "לכו ופשטו ידיכם בגדוד". Then, the leaders would create a military strategy and attack the גדוד (see the page for the process).

What is the legal justification for this measure?

Who were these bandits/troops? If they were dangerous and the king always had a right to do this, then why were גדוד hanging around Israel, and why did King David only confront them when the people needed money? If the גדוד was not a threat, then why would the King decide to hurt and rob other people for the sake of financial gain?

  • I question the premise that גדוד refers to bandits here. The usage of this term in Tanach suggests that it generally refers to an expeditionary force of enemy troops. See, for example, Radak on II Sh'muel 3:22: "ולא סיפר מאיזה גדוד ומאין הביאו השלל ומן הנראה כי מארץ פלשתים היה אולי יצא גדוד פלשתים בארץ ישראל להלחם או לפשוט ויואב עם עבדי דוד יצאו אליהם ועתה שב מהגדוד ההוא והביאו שלל רב". – Fred Apr 30 '15 at 2:37
  • You're assuming there's no grey area in between where, due to their unethical behavior, they have forfeited their right to property, but it hasn't reached a level such that it is morally-incumbent upon the king to deal with them without any other motivation. – Loewian Apr 30 '15 at 3:59
  • @loewian: How can someone forfeit their rights to their property? If it is for not keeping the 7 mitzvoth they are chayav mitha and should be removed from society to protect people from them. So why did he wait until now? – Emet v'Shalom Apr 30 '15 at 12:38
  • Is it clear that the gedud were within Israel? Even if so, assuming they're not of the shiva amemim, perhaps there is more discretion on the part of the king as far as prioritizing resources for meting out justice against sinners... But I hear your question. – Loewian Apr 30 '15 at 14:55

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