“When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.” (Deuteronomy 20:1)
It’s interesting that the Hebrew word for “defense” is “bitachon”. Bitachon is also the Hebrew word for trust in God. It’s almost as if it was intended for us to confuse the two. Because, in fact, as far as Israel goes, trust in God and national defense are interchangeable terms.
After the six-day war in 1967 there was a popular bumper sticker put out which read “Way to Go – IDF!”. Just six years later came the long and difficult Yom Kippur war and the new bumper sticker read “Israel Trusts in God”.
Yes, the Israeli Defense Force is an incredible and highly developed army. What makes it so amazing are the highly motivated soldiers, the sons and daughters, fathers, brothers and sisters of the people of Israel. And every one of them knows that Israel must win, and it must always defend itself or it will cease to exist. That’s a sobering thought to live with.
And so the Bible in Deuteronomy continues and explains what how the Israeli People are to go into battle:
“When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
The High Priest would go out to battle with the soldiers. As a reminder. For as sophisticated as the army is, and as courageous, strong and capable as the soldiers are; the Israeli army must never forget that the word for defense is the same word as “trust in God”. IDF soldiers will always remember that. And that’s what makes them truly great.