Judges 18
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The Danites Settle in Laish

1In those days there was no king in Israel, and the tribe of the Danites was looking for territory to occupy. For up to that time they had not come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 2So the Danites sent out five men from their clans, men of valor from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it. “Go and explore the land,” they told them.

The men entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. 3And while they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they went over and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”

4“Micah has done this and that for me,” he replied, “and he has hired me to be his priest.”

5Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to determine whether we will have a successful journey.”

6And the priest told them, “Go in peace. The LORD is watching over your journey.”

7So the five men departed and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living securely, like the Sidonians, tranquil and unsuspecting. There was nothing lacking in the land and no oppressive ruler. And they were far away from the Sidonians and had no alliance with anyone.

8When the men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked them, “What did you find?”

9They answered, “Come on, let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and it is very good. Why would you fail to act? Do not hesitate to go there and take possession of the land! 10When you enter, you will come to an unsuspecting people and a spacious land, for God has given it into your hands. It is a place where nothing on earth is lacking.”

11So six hundred Danites departed from Zorah and Eshtaol, armed with weapons of war. 12They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. That is why the place west of Kiriath-jearim is called Mahaneh-dana to this day. 13And from there they traveled to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.

The Danites Take Micah’s Idols

14Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish said to their brothers, “Did you know that one of these houses has an ephod, household gods, a graven image, and a molten idol? Now think about what you should do.”

15So they turned aside there and went to the home of the young Levite, the house of Micah, and greeted him.

16The six hundred Danites stood at the entrance of the gate, armed with their weapons of war. 17And the five men who had gone to spy out the land went inside and took the graven image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molten idol, while the priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred armed men.

18When they entered Micah’s house and took the graven image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molten idol, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”

19“Be quiet,” they told him. “Put your hand over your mouth and come with us and be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest for the house of one person or a priest for a tribe and family in Israel?”

20So the priest was glad and took the ephod, the household idols, and the graven image, and went with the people. 21Putting their small children, their livestock, and their possessions in front of them, they turned and departed.

22After they were some distance from Micah’s house, the men in the houses near Micah’s house mobilized and overtook the Danites. 23When they called out after them, the Danites turned to face them and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you that you have called out such a company?”

24He replied, “You took the gods I had made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’”

25The Danites said to him, “Do not raise your voice against us, or angry men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.”

26So the Danites went on their way, and Micah turned to go back home, because he saw that they were too strong for him.

27After they had taken Micah’s idols and his priest, they went to Laish, to a tranquil and unsuspecting people, and they struck them with their swords and burned down the city. 28There was no one to deliver them, because the city was far from Sidon and had no alliance with anyone; it was in a valley near Beth-rehob.

And the Danites rebuilt the city and lived there. 29They named it Dan, after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city was formerly named Laish.

30The Danites set up idols for themselves, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses,b and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.

31So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image, and it was there the whole time the house of God was in Shiloh.

Footnotes:

12 a Mahaneh-dan means camp of Dan
30 b Many Hebrew manuscripts, some LXX manuscripts and Vulgate; Other Hebrew and LXX manuscripts Manasseh

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