For your consideration; a table of all the battles in the Bible up to and including the Exodus is HERE
(Update! Now includes Chronicles!)
So what comments can we make from this table?
Firstly, there are three categories of battle that we can discern:
Against the original inhabitants of the land
Against fellow Israelites
Against external invaders
Battles against the original inhabitants are clearly ordered by God, since they were commanded in the Torah. In addition, the vast majority of these battles are accompanied by one or more of the following: a prophetic or direct command from God to attack, tactical direction from God, clear divine intervention such as a miracle, or a direct claim that God created the result (gave victory or caused defeat). Most of the exceptions are one-line descriptions, or lists of victories. Given the theological statements in the Torah, it is clear that the Deuteronomic History is
Battles against fellow Israelites are often not commented on by God or the historian. In the attack on the Benjaminites in Judges 20, God dictates the order of attack, but that is an exception. Though God set forth the events that caused the split of the kingdoms (1 Kings 12:15), he specifically stopped Rehoboam from attacking Jereboam (1 Kings 12:24).
Finally, battles against external invaders only occur very late in Israel’s history – starting at 2 King 15. As is clearly stated both in 2 Kings and in the contemporary prophets, these attacks are God’s specific judgement against Israel and Judah. No battle against an external invader is ever won. In fact, after 2 Kings 15, only one battle is won at all, and that is a one line description in 2 Kings 18:8.
Are there conclusions that we can draw? It seems that, in general, God only commanded and assisted battles that were against the original inhabitants of the land. This observation corresponds with our previous observation of the theology of these wars as promoted in Deuteronomy – these wars are unique to the time, location and specific peoples, and are specifically commanded by God. Innovative wars – wars fought without God’s direct command – do not fit into this pattern.