They had specifically left their land to do battle with the enemy. Why did they then need to first offer peace?
ESV - 10 When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it.
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By my reading of this passage, the requirement to offer peace applied only to future conflicts in which Israel might be involved with nations that were distant from Israel, but not to the immediate effort on Israel's part to drive out the peoples that were at that time inhabiting the Promised Land. As God indicated in Deuteronomy 20:16-18, those nations were dedicated to complete (and deserved) destruction by God because of their exceptional wickedness. The requirement to offer peace in future wars (conflicts for which, presumably, Israel would have God's approval or sanction) was (in my opinion) indicative of God's mercy, even on enemy nations that might be engaged in combat with Israel. It offered those nations a chance to avoid the death of all their adult males, which God commanded Israel to perform in Deuteronomy 20:13 as punishment for them if they refused Israel's offer of peace.
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