“Tobiah has been released from army service for a year.” Her eyes, with a wisp of humor, flicked to him. “In order to bring happiness to the woman he has married.”
Tobiah suddenly seemed to be more interested in the hills to the east than our conversation.
“He cannot fight?”
“Unless we are attacked in camp, then of course he is free to defend us, but no, he cannot go to war.”
“Wings of the Wind” by Connilyn Cossette
That’s who defended the families left in the cities east of Jordan. It was the men married less than a year, (see Deuteronomy 4:5). They arranged marriages when they were children. Those who marched on to fight, at some point, would return to marry and spend a year with his bride.
Men did not serve in the army forever. The priests retired from the heavy work, (they could assist), when they were 50, see Numbers 8:24-26. I’m sure the soldiers retired at the same age. The cities would have men over the age of 50 and young men on their year-long honeymoon to defend them.
Deuteronomy 3:22, “All you men of valor shall pass over armed before your brothers, the children of Israel. But your wives and your little ones…shall remain….” Modern English Version
They remained but were not defenseless.