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Sunday, March 18, 2012

מלך המשיח: The 13th Tribe (Part 2: Methodology and Questions)

It is generally helpful when we have two contradicting Rambam's to see if there are any other differences between how he formulates or phrases the halachos.

When describing the rights of all Kings vis-à-vis the entirety of the land conquered, the Rambam says:
.ונותן לעבדיו ולאנשי המלחמה כפי מה שירצה. ומניח לעצמו כפי מה שירצה
The land is the King's to keep for himself and give to his servants. However by the מלך המשיח, he says:
.ודבר זה חק לו ולבניו עד עולם
That 1/13 of the land is for the  מלך המשיח and his descendants in perpetuity.

Is the Rambam making any significant distinctions that can help us answer the Minchas Chinuch's question?  What, exactly, does the Rambam mean by his two formulations?  Often, it is beneficial to read the Rambam's source, the top half amud in Bava Basra 122a, which helps clarify the Rambam's meaning when it isn't clear.  (Also, sometimes there is a Rashi that indirectly helps explain the Rambam via the gemara.)

Finally, any distinction between the two Rambams regarding different ways the newly conquered lands are treated, would have to reconcile with the simplest reading of the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 5:6 mentioned in the first post:
כל הארצות שכובשין ישראל במלך על פי בית דין. הרי זה כבוש רבים והרי היא כארץ ישראל שכבש יהושע לכל דבר

This would imply that lands conquered by any King are all identical to the land conquered by Yehoshua, and it would seem to follow that they should all be treated the same.

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