Sotah 8:7 says that for obligatory wars all go out to fight, "even a bridegroom from his chamber and a bride from her canopy". Historically, was this in fact our practice? Did women participate in the conquest of the land (which Rabbi Yehudah says was an obligatory war) or in defending it before we were conquered and the temples destroyed? Did women fight alongside the men, or did they participate in ways that didn't involve fighting directly? It sounds like at least some of the women of Reuven and Gad stayed home during the conquest of the land.

If they fought, (how) were they trained?

I do know that Devorah not only fought but led troops, but as a prophetess she might have had special circumstances.

  • Another such proof that only men went to war is from the passuk Devarim 20:8 "מי האיש הירא..." the passuk refers only to men.
    – sam
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:26
  • 1
    As a support for your question, Kiddushin 2b states that “it’s the way of men to go to war, but not the way of women to go to war.” Similarly, Midrash Mishlei 31:5 says that Yael used a tent peg to kill Sisera because she didn’t carry any weapons, as per the prohibition against women wearing men’s garments.
    – DonielF
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:52
  • @DonielF IMSMC Yael was not an Israelite...
    – Loewian
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 4:28
  • 1
    Consider Numbers 32:26
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


In his commentary to Rambam's codification of this law (Hilchot Melachim 7:5), R. David Ibn Zimra asks: “Is it the way of women to wage war?” And he cites the verse (Psalms 45:14) "All glorious is the king's daughter within the palace" in support of this. He then suggests that the women were (not actively fighting, but) supplying food and water to their husbands, and he notes that this is the current practice of the Arab(?) women:

אלא דקשה וכי דרך הנשים לעשות מלחמה דקתני וכלה מחופתה והא כתיב כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה וי"ל דה"ק כיון דחתן יוצא מחדרו כלה יוצאה מחופתה שאינה נוהגת ימי חופה ואפשר דבמלחמת מצוה הנשים היו מספקות מים ומזון לבעליהן וכן המנהג היום בערביות

Note that R. David Ibn Zimra did not invent the idea that it is not the way of women to wage war. The Talmud in Kiddushin (2b) explicitly states this:

התם דבמלחמה קאי דדרכו של איש לעשות מלחמה ואין דרכה של אשה לעשות מלחמה כתב לה בלשון זכר

There, however, the reference is to war, and it is the practice of man to wage war, not of woman — therefore the masculine is employed. (Soncino translation)

  • You beat me to it,was about to type this
    – sam
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:16
  • @sam ברוך שכוונתי
    – Alex
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:17
  • It also should be noted that according to the Rambam a woman may be able to fight durimg a milchmes mitzvah,but not reshus
    – sam
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:18

Yachin there:

אשה לאו בת מלחמה. רק לספק מזון ולתקן הדרכים אף היא יוצאת. ‏

A woman is not able to combat, she did only provide food and repair roads.

  • Thank you. Who/what is Yachin? Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:29
  • 3
    it is the comment Tiferet Israel on tne mishna who is divided in Yachin, for paraphrease and Boaz for extended discussions
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 2:30

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