The battles continue of course in the book of Judges. The Israelite tribes move down from the forested highlands into the plains. The plainspeople fight back. The story of Deborah includes a very well-planned three-phase battle involving armies from several Israelite tribes. The story of Gideon takes place in a time of drought when enemy tribes take over the fields that feed southern Israel. And then the Philistines come, pushing into Canaan from the West as Israel pushes from the East. Again, the enemy is more advanced than the Israelites—the Philistines know how to work with iron—and again we’re reminded these events take place in a real historical world, with a real historical iron age. The time of the tribes is ending and the age of nations begins… just about when the Biblical narrative tells us Israel demanded a king—i.e. they demanded to be a nation, not just an alliance.
It all makes sense, in military, historical and geographic terms. Could people centuries after the events really have imagined it so well? Or is it simpler to believe it’s true—in which case, the rest of the story might well be just as true.