Who protected the women and children of Reuven, Gad, and 1/2 Menashe during the conquest?
The conquest of the land described in the book of Yehoshua took seven years (Arakhin 13a).1 It is only at the end of the conquest that Yehoshua dismisses the "shock troops".
We know from Yehoshua 1:14 that "all the mighty men of valor" from the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and 1/2 of Menashe led the conquest, and the declaration in 1:18 (calling for anybody who rebels from this command to be put to death) sounds like they took it seriously.
So if all the men capable of fighting were with Yehoshua conquering the land, who was protecting their families on the other side of the Yarden from the surrounding peoples? Or was there a miracle and the surrounding peoples did not attack this easy target during all those years?
When I asked this question some time ago on Mi Yodeya, someone suggested that there was a concept of "garrison troops" who don't meet the standards needed for a conquest but can still fight. I haven't otherwise heard of there being different types of troops in torah, though it's also not an area I know much about. Is it that -- that there were "lesser" troops who were enough, plus people who were not quite of age at the beginning would then reach it during? Or was there some other provision for these families?
Caleb was 40 when he spied the land and is 85 now (14:10), and they were in the wilderness 38 years after the spies' mission. ↩