The Israel Defense Force (IDF) announced this month it will be training women as tank commanders. Initially, the women would function as back-ups and only join crews in emergency situations.
But it is expected, they will eventually work into regular rotations. By including women, the IDF will increase the number of people it can draw from to fill positions by 50%.
But there may be more to the decision than that.
According to reports, the Kurds — who are battling the Islamic state (IS, ISIS or ISIL) in northern Iraq — have been using women in their army for years.
In order to gain recruits, radical Inmans have told Muslim men they will receive 72 virgins if they die or are martyred in battle. There are mentions of this promise in the Qur’an — the Muslim scripture, but most references, specifically of the number of virgins come from the Hadith, a collection of sayings by Muhammad.
But the Kurdish women fighters are absolutely terrifying ISIS, because Muslim extremists also believe if a woman kills them in battle, they will not only lose the 72 virgins, but they will actually go to hell.
ISIS fighters have even been known to withdraw from battle once they realize women are fighting for the Kurds and particularly if the ISIS extremists are taking casualties.
In an interview with New York Post, Rep Ed Royce spoke of a meeting he had recently with the Kurdistan’s foreign minister:
“These ISIL soldiers apparently believed that if they were killed in battle, they went to paradise as long as they were killed by a man.”
“And these female soldiers were communicating their satisfaction with the fact that they had taken the fight to ISIL and had stopped the advance, turned back the advance — slayed a number of these fighters, who would then run away.”
The New York Post reports on one Kurdish female fighter who told AFP:
“I think [ISIS} were more afraid of us than of the men. They believe they’ll go to hell if they die at a woman’s hands.”
Deborah — Israel’s first female warrior?
The armies of Israel have an ancient history of using women warriors. In the Book of Judges, we read how a Canaanite King named Jabin had taken Israel captive for 20 years because of Israel’s sin.
After Israel called on to God for deliverance (Judges 4:3), the Lord raised up Deborah to deliver Israel from this captivity. She was not only a judge or ruler but was also considered a prophetess (Judges 4:4).
She was married to a man named Lapidoth and though there is no mention of children she is referred to as a “mother of Israel” in Judges 5:7. However, this may be a reference to her unique ability to gather and unite many of the tribes of Israel to throw off Jabin’s yoke (see Judges 5:13-15).
Trees were also a rarity in Israel and she had two palm trees named after her — “Palms of Deborah” — (Judges 4:5) under which she judged Israel and probably lived as well.
Though women leading Israel were rare, she was one of many prophetesses who God spoke through including Huldah mentioned in 2 Kings 22:14-20, Anna Luke 2:36 and Isaiah’s wife who was also called a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3).
Deborah — along with Barak, the Israeli general — led the Israeli army in a successful battle with Jabin and his notorious general Sisera who was cut of the same cloth as other famous generals such as Patton and Rommel. Sisera’s military genius was the reason for Jabin’s success.
So going against Sisera was no small task. In fact, it was Barak who requested Deborah join Israel in battle.
8 Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:8-9 NASV)
The Bible says the Lord routed Sisera (Judges 4:15) . The Canaanite general was eventually killed by another woman when he fled to the camp of an ally — Heber, the Kenite — to escape the Israeli army. When Sisera fell asleep, Heber’s wife Jael drove a tent-peg through the skull of Sisera, killing him thus ending Jabin’s domination.
In chapter 5, we have an epic poem written about Deborah’s exploits where even Jael received a mention (Judges 5:24-27). The poem on Deborah’s unique moment in history was probably sung at night around the campfires (Judges 5:3).
Through out history, there have been occasional mentions of women who played a significant role in war — France’s Joan of Arc and England’s lesser known Margaret of Anjou who was thrust into an active role because of her husband’s (King Henry VI) bouts of insanity. At times, Margaret actually led the Lancastrian division during an English civil war known as the War of the Roses.
- ISIS fighters terrified of being killed by female troops: New York Post
- IDF to train women as tank commanders as part of integration program: Breaking Israel News
- Deborah: Bible gateway