The Tribe of Dan Finds an Inheritance
1 In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the Danite tribe was looking for a place#tn Heb “an inheritance.” to settle, because at that time they did not yet have a place to call their own among the tribes of Israel.#tn Heb “because there had not fallen to them by that day in the midst of the tribes of Israel an inheritance.” 2 The Danites sent out from their whole tribe five representatives,#tn Heb “The Danites sent from their tribe five men, from their borders.” capable men#tn Heb “men, sons of strength.” from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it. They said to them, “Go, explore the land.” They came to the Ephraimite hill country and spent the night at Micah’s house.#tn Heb “They came to the Ephraimite hill country, to Micah’s house, and spent the night there.” 3 As they approached#tn Or “When they were near.” Micah’s house, they recognized the accent#tn Heb “voice.” This probably means that “his speech was Judahite [i.e., southern] like their own, not Israelite [i.e., northern]” (R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 263). of the young Levite. So they stopped#tn Heb “turned aside.” there and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?”#tn Heb “What [is there] to you here?” 4 He told them what Micah had done for him, saying,#tn Heb “He said to them, ‘Such and such Micah has done for me.’” Though the statement is introduced and presented, at least in part, as a direct quotation (note especially “for me”), the phrase “such and such” appears to be the narrator’s condensed version of what the Levite really said. “He hired me and I became his priest.” 5 They said to him, “Seek a divine oracle for us,#tn Heb “Ask God.” so we can know if we will be successful on our mission.”#tn Heb “so we can know if our way on which we are going will be successful.” 6 The priest said to them, “Go with confidence.#tn Heb “in peace.” The Lord will be with you on your mission.”#tn Heb “In front of the Lord is your way in which you are going.”
7 So the five men journeyed on#tn Or “went.” and arrived in Laish. They noticed that the people there#tn Heb “who were in its midst.” were living securely, like the Sidonians do,#tn Heb “according to the custom of the Sidonians.” undisturbed and unsuspecting. No conqueror was troubling them in any way.#tn Heb “and there was no one humiliating anything in the land, one taking possession [by] force.” They lived far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone.#tc Heb “and a thing there was not to them with men.” Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX and Symmachus read “Syria” here rather than the MT’s “men.” This reading presupposes a Hebrew Vorlage אֲרָם (’aram, “Aram,” i.e., Arameans) rather than the MT reading אָדָם (’adam). This reading is possibly to be preferred over the MT. 8 When the Danites returned to their tribe#tn Heb “They came to their brothers.” in Zorah and Eshtaol, their kinsmen#tn Heb “brothers.” asked them, “How did it go?”#tn Heb “What you?” 9 They said, “Come on, let’s attack them,#tn Heb “Arise, and let us go up against them.” for#tc Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX adds “we entered and walked around in the land as far as Laish and.” we saw their land and it is very good. You seem lethargic,#tn Heb “But you are inactive.” but don’t hesitate#tn Or “be lazy.” to invade and conquer#tn Heb “to go”; “to enter”; “to possess.” the land. 10 When you invade,#tn Heb “When you enter.” you will encounter#tn Heb “you will come to.” unsuspecting people. The land is wide!#tn Heb “broad of hands,” an idiom meaning “wide on both sides.” God is handing it over to you – a place that lacks nothing on earth!”#tn Heb “a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”
11 So six hundred Danites, fully armed, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.#tn Heb “They journeyed from there, from the tribe of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men, equipped with weapons of war.” 12 They went up and camped in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. (To this day that place is called Camp of Dan.#tn Or “Mahaneh Dan”; the Hebrew term “Mahaneh” means “camp [of].” Many English versions retain the transliterated Hebrew expression, but cf. CEV “Dan’s Camp.” It is west#tn Heb “behind.” of Kiriath Jearim.) 13 From there they traveled through the Ephraimite hill country and arrived at Micah’s house. 14 The five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish#tc Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX lacks the phrase “of Laish.” said to their kinsmen,#tn Heb “brothers.” “Do you realize that inside these houses are an ephod, some personal idols, a carved image, and a metal image? Decide now what you want to do.” 15 They stopped#tn Heb “turned aside.” there, went inside the young Levite’s house (which belonged to Micah),#tn Heb “Micah’s house.” and asked him how he was doing.#tn Heb “they asked him concerning peace.” 16 Meanwhile the six hundred Danites, fully armed, stood at the entrance to the gate.#tn Heb “And the six hundred men, equipped with the weapons of war…from the sons of Dan.” 17 The five men who had gone to spy out the land broke in and stole#tn Heb “went up, went in there, took.” the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, while the priest was standing at the entrance to the gate with the six hundred fully armed men.#tn Heb “six hundred men, equipped with the weapons of war.” 18 When these men broke into Micah’s house and stole#tn Heb “These went into Micah’s house and took.” the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 They said to him, “Shut up! Put your hand over your mouth and come with us! You can be our adviser#tn See the note on the word “adviser” in 17:10. and priest. Wouldn’t it be better to be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for just one man’s family?”#tn Heb “Is it better for you to be priest for the house of one man or for you to be priest for a tribe, for a clan in Israel?” 20 The priest was happy. He took the ephod, the personal idols, and the carved image and joined the group.#tn Heb “and went into the midst of the people.”
21 They turned and went on their way, but they walked behind the children, the cattle, and their possessions.#tn Heb “They turned and went and put the children, the cattle, and the possessions in front of them.” 22 After they had gone a good distance from Micah’s house, Micah’s neighbors#tn Heb “the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house.” gathered together and caught up with the Danites. 23 When they called out to the Danites, the Danites#tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Danites) has been specified in the translation for clarity. turned around and said to Micah, “Why have you gathered together?” 24 He said, “You stole my gods that I made, as well as this priest, and then went away. What do I have left? How can you have the audacity to say to me, ‘What do you want?’”#tn Heb “What is this you say to me, ‘What to you?’” 25 The Danites said to him, “Don’t say another word to us, or some very angry men#tn Heb “bitter in spirit.” This phrase is used in 2 Sam 17:8 of David and his warriors, who are compared to a bear robbed of her cubs. will attack you, and you and your family will die.”#tn Heb “and you will gather up your life and the life of your house.” 26 The Danites went on their way; when Micah realized#tn Heb “saw.” they were too strong to resist,#tn Heb “they were stronger than he.” he turned around and went home.
27 Now the Danites#tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Danites) has been specified in the translation for clarity. took what Micah had made, as well as his priest, and came to Laish, where the people were undisturbed and unsuspecting. They struck them down with the sword and burned the city.#tn The Hebrew adds “with fire.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons, because it is redundant in English. 28 No one came to the rescue because the city#tn Heb “it.” The Hebrew pronoun is feminine singular here, referring to the “city” (a grammatically feminine singular noun) mentioned in v. 27. was far from Sidon#map For location see Map1-A1; JP3-F3; JP4-F3. and they had no dealings with anyone.#tn Heb “and a thing there was not to them with men.” The city#tn Heb “it.” The Hebrew pronoun is feminine singular here, referring to the “city” (a grammatically feminine singular noun) mentioned in v. 27. was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites#tn Heb “They”; the referent (the Danites) has been specified in the translation for clarity. rebuilt the city and occupied it. 29 They named it Dan after their ancestor, who was one of Israel’s sons.#tn Heb “They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who had been born to Israel.” But the city’s name used to be Laish. 30 The Danites worshiped#tn Heb “erected for themselves.” the carved image. Jonathan, descendant#tn Heb “son.” of Gershom, son of Moses,#tc Several ancient textual witnesses, including some LXX mss and the Vulgate, support the reading “Moses” (מֹשֶׁה, mosheh) here. Many Hebrew mss have a nun (נ) suspended above the name between the first two letters (מנשׁה), suggesting the name Manasseh (מְנַשֶּׁה, mÿnasheh). This is probably a scribal attempt to protect Moses’ reputation. For discussion, see G. F. Moore, Judges (ICC), 401-2. and his descendants#tn Heb “sons.” served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the exile. 31 They worshiped#tn Heb “they set up for themselves.” Micah’s carved image#tn Heb “the carved image that Micah had made.” the whole time God’s authorized shrine#tn Heb “the house of God.” was in Shiloh.