The People of Dan Make Their Homes in Laish
1In those days Israel didn’t have a king.
And in those days the tribe of Dan was looking for a place where they could make their homes. They hadn’t been able to take over their own share of land among the tribes of Israel. 2So the people of Dan sent out five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol. They told the men to look over the land and check it out. Those men did it for all the people of Dan. Those people told the men, “Go. Check out the land.”
So they entered the hill country of Ephraim. They went to the house of Micah. That’s where they spent the night. 3When they came near Micah’s house, they recognized a voice. It was the voice of the young Levite. So they turned off the road and stopped there. They asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”
4The Levite told them what Micah had done for him. He said, “He has hired me. I’m his priest.”
5Then they said to him, “Please ask God for advice. Try to find out whether we’ll have success on our journey.”
6The priest answered them, “Go in peace. The Lord is pleased with your journey.”
7So the five men left. They came to Laish. There they saw that the people felt secure. They were living in safety. Like the people in Sidon, they were at peace. Their land had everything they needed. Things were going very well for them. They lived a long way from the people of Sidon. And they didn’t think they would ever need help from anyone else.
8The men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol. Their people asked them, “What did you find out?”
9They answered, “Come on! Let’s attack them! We’ve seen the land, and it is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t wait any longer. Go there and take it over. 10When you get there, you will find people who aren’t expecting anything bad to happen to them. Their land has plenty of room. God has handed it over to you. It’s a land that has everything you will ever need.”
11So 600 men from the tribe of Dan started out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were prepared for battle. 12On their way they set up camp. Their camp was near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That’s why the place is called Mahaneh Dan to this day. It’s west of Kiriath Jearim. 13From there they went to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah’s house.
14Then the five men who had looked over the land of Laish spoke to the other members of their tribe. They said, “Don’t you know that one of these houses has a sacred linen apron in it? Some statues of family gods are there. That house also has another statue of a god covered with silver. Now you know what to do.” 15So they turned off the road and stopped there. They went to the house of the young Levite. He was at Micah’s place. They greeted the young man. 16The 600 men from Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They were prepared for battle. 17The five men who had looked over the land went inside. They took the statue covered with silver. They also took the family gods and the linen apron. During that time, the priest stood at the entrance of the gate. The 600 men stood there with him. They were prepared for battle.
18When the five men went into Micah’s house and took all those things, the priest spoke to them. He asked, “What are you doing?”
19They answered him, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us. Be our father and priest. You can serve a whole tribe and family group in Israel as our priest. Isn’t that better than serving just one man’s family?” 20The priest was very pleased. He took the linen apron and the family gods. He also took the statue of the god that was covered with silver. Then the priest left with the people. 21They put their little children and their livestock in front of them. They also put everything else they owned in front of them. And they turned and went on their way.
22The men who lived near Micah were called together. Then they left and caught up with the people of Dan. That’s because Dan’s people hadn’t gone very far from Micah’s house. 23Those who lived near Micah shouted at them. The people of Dan turned around and asked Micah, “What’s the matter with you? Why did you call out your men to fight against us?”
24He replied, “You took away the gods I made. And you took away my priest. What do I have left? So how can you ask, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ ”
25The people of Dan answered, “Don’t argue with us. Some of the men may get angry and attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives.” 26So the people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw that they were too strong for him. So he turned around and went back home.
27The people of Dan took what Micah had made. They also took his priest. They continued on their way to Laish. They went there to fight against a people who were at peace and secure. The people of Dan struck them down with their swords. They burned down their city. 28No one could save those people and their city. They lived a long way from Sidon. And they didn’t think they would ever need help from anyone else. Their city was located in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The people of Dan rebuilt the city. Then they made their homes there. 29They named it Dan. That’s because they traced their family line back to Dan. He was a son of Israel. The city used to be called Laish. 30There the people of Dan set up for themselves the statue of the god that was covered with silver. Jonathan and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan. Jonathan was the son of Gershom, the son of Moses. Jonathan and his sons were priests until the time when the land was captured. 31The people of Dan continued to use the statue Micah had made. They used it during the whole time the house of God was in Shiloh.