The Danites settle in Laish
1In those days Israel had no king.
And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 2So the Danites sent five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, ‘Go, explore the land.’
So they entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. 3When they were near Micah’s house, they recognised the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?’
4He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, ‘He has hired me and I am his priest.’
5Then they said to him, ‘Please enquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.’
6The priest answered them, ‘Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.’
7So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, at peace and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous.#18:7 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.#18:7 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts with the Arameans
8When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their fellow Danites asked them, ‘How did you find things?’
9They answered, ‘Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over. 10When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever.’
11Then six hundred men of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan#18:12 Mahaneh Dan means Dan’s camp. to this day. 13From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.
14Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their fellow Danites, ‘Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, some household gods and an image overlaid with silver? Now you know what to do.’ 15So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and greeted him. 16The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance of the gate. 17The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate.
18When the five men went into Micah’s house and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods, the priest said to them, ‘What are you doing?’
19They answered him, ‘Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?’ 20The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people. 21Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.
22When they had gone some distance from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. 23As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, ‘What’s the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?’
24He replied, ‘You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, “What’s the matter with you?” ’
25The Danites answered, ‘Don’t argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.’ 26So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned round and went back home.
27Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. 28There was no-one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. 29They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel – though the city used to be called Laish. 30There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses,#18:30 An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition, some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; Masoretic Text Manasseh and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. 31They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.