Micah and the Tribe of Dan
1There was no king in Israel at that time. In those days the tribe of Dan was looking for territory to claim and occupy because they had not yet received any land of their own among the tribes of Israel. 2So the people of Dan chose five qualified#18.2 qualified; or brave. men out of all the families in the tribe and sent them from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol with instructions to explore the land. When they arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they stayed at Micah's house. 3While they were there, they recognized the accent of the young Levite, so they went up to him and asked, “What are you doing here? Who brought you here?”
4He answered, “I have an arrangement with Micah, who pays me to serve as his priest.”
5They said to him, “Please ask God if we are going to be successful on our journey.”
6The priest answered, “You have nothing to worry about. The Lord is taking care of you on this journey.”
7So the five men left and went to the town of Laish. They saw how safely the people there were living, like the Sidonians. They were a peaceful, quiet people, with no disputes with anyone; they had all they needed.#18.7 Probable text They were… needed; Hebrew unclear. They lived far away from the Sidonians and had no dealings with any other people. 8When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their countrymen asked them what they had found out. 9“Come on,” they replied. “Let's attack Laish. We saw the land, and it's very good. Don't stay here doing nothing; hurry! Go on in and take it over! 10When you get there, you will find that the people don't suspect a thing. It is a big country; it has everything a person could want, and God has given it to you.”
11So 600 men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol, ready for battle. 12They went up and made camp west of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still called Camp of Dan. 13They went on from there and came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim.
14Then the five men who had gone to explore the country round Laish said to their companions, “Did you know that here in one of these houses there is a wooden idol covered with silver? There are also other idols and an ephod. What do you think we should do?” 15So they went into Micah's house, where the young Levite lived, and asked the Levite how he was getting on. 16Meanwhile the 600 soldiers from Dan, ready for battle, were standing at the gate. 17The five spies went straight on into the house and took the wooden idol covered with silver, the other idols, and the ephod, while the priest stayed at the gate with the 600 armed men.
18When the men went into Micah's house and took the sacred objects, the priest asked them, “What are you doing?”
19They said, “Keep quiet. Don't say a word. Come with us and be our priest and adviser. Wouldn't you rather be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for the family of one man?” 20This made the priest very happy, so he took the sacred objects and went along with them.
21They turned round and started off, with their children, their livestock, and their belongings going ahead. 22They had travelled a good distance from the house when Micah called his neighbours out for battle. They caught up with the men from Dan 23and shouted at them. The men from Dan turned round and asked Micah, “What's the matter? Why all this mob?”
24Micah answered, “What do you mean, ‘What's the matter?’ You take my priest and the gods that I made, and walk off! What have I got left?”
25The men from Dan said, “You had better not say anything else unless you want these men to get angry and attack you. Then you and your whole family would die.” 26Then they went on. Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home.
27-28After the men from Dan had taken the priest and the things that Micah had made, they went and attacked Laish, that town of peaceful, quiet people which was in the same valley as Bethrehob. They killed the inhabitants and burnt the town. There was no one to save them, because Laish was a long way from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any other people. The men from Dan rebuilt the town and settled down there. 29They changed its name from Laish to Dan, after their ancestor Dan, the son of Jacob. 30The men from Dan set up the idol to be worshipped, and Jonathan, the son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, served as a priest for the tribe of Dan, and his descendants served as their priests until the people were taken away into exile. 31Micah's idol remained there all the time that the Tent where God was worshipped remained at Shiloh.