By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, August 19, 2010
The modern Hebrew word for soldier is chayal, coined by Eliezer Ben Yehuda. However, the biblical term for solider is ish tzavah, a man of the army (eg Numbers 31:21).
Just as the biblical ish adamah, man of the earth (Genesis 9:20), gave way to one word, Aramaic terms ikkar and haklai, to designate a farmer, Ben Yehuda sought a one word term for soldier. He looked to the root ch-y-l.