I refer to a very long page at the Thinktank: Why couldn’t Israel take in the Amalekites like they did foreign survivors in Deut 20?
I will allow you to read about the Amalekites if you like, but my point at issue here is this:
So, in the case of surrender, they were simply treated almost at the same level as ‘regular Israelites’???! And they were not subjected to the post-surrender atrocities of mutilation, torture, and horrors of ‘normal’ invading armies???!
He says that after first describing what a horrific treatment fell on folks who were besieged by almost every other kingdom and empire in that part of the world. Israel stood out as the most merciful of nations, bringing almost anyone under their Covenant shalom. Thus, they became feudal vassals and were expected to live by the Laws of Noah as Gentiles.
With such a peace treaty, there was no plunder. Economically, all it meant was offering a tithe of their productivity back to the royal house of Israel, to include some amount of labor and services. It was simply shifting from one sovereign to another, and often a much better deal. They weren’t occupied and did not lose their homes or lands, but were expected to allow free trade as well. Furthermore, they were protected from attack from outsiders. Even when someone fooled them into offering a vassal treaty (see Gibeon Joshua 9), Israel took seriously the responsibility to protect them from attack.
This helps to fill out the image of how we as individual operate in a moral feudalism. God makes us His vassals, but then we in turn accept vassals into the limited domain He grants to each of us as our mission and calling. And we are to be noteworthy for our mercies. Yes, there were exceptions in Israel’s history, as there will be for you, but they are exceptions.
The meaning of shalom is hardly restricted to leaving someone alone, though it could mean that. Rather, it is the broader concept of inviting someone to participate in the social stability, prosperity, safety, and health that are promised blessings of our covenant with Him.
Note: This long explanation by the author of Christian Thinktank also helps explain why I reject the libertarian doctrine of “taxation as theft.” Everyone serves someone on this earth, and taxation is a divine right. The only debate is how those ancient provisions can be translated into our modern day.