Danites Seek Territory
7 Then the five men went on and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, [how they were] living securely in the style of the Sidonians, quiet and peaceful; and there was no oppressive magistrate in the land humiliating them in anything, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 The five men came back [home] to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers said to them, “What do you have to report?” 9 They said, “Arise, let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good (fertile). Will you sit still and do nothing? Do not hesitate to go, to enter, to take possession of the land. 10 When you enter, you will come to people [feeling] safe and secure with a spacious land [widely extended on all sides]; for God has given it into your hands—a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.”
11 Then from the [tribal] family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out. 12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they have called that place [b]Mahaneh-dan to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 They went on from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.
Danites Take Micah’s Idols
14 Then the five men who had gone to scout the country of Laish said to their relatives, “Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod, teraphim, an image [of silver-plated wood], and a cast image [of solid silver]? Now therefore, consider what you should do.” 15 So they turned in that direction and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him how he was doing. 16 Now the six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, stood at the entrance of the gate. 17 Now the five men who had gone to scout the land went up and entered the house and took the image [of silver-plated wood], the ephod, the teraphim, and the cast image [of solid silver], while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 18 When these [five men] went into Micah’s house and took the [plated] image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the cast image, the priest asked them, “What are you doing?” 19 They said to him, “Keep quiet, 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 to the house of one man, or to be a priest to a tribe and family in Israel?” 20 The priest’s heart was glad [to hear that], and he took the ephod, the teraphim, and the image, and went among the people.
21 So they turned and left, and they put the children, the livestock, and the valuables and supplies in front of them. 22 When they had gone some distance from the house of Micah, the men who were [living] in the houses near Micah’s house assembled [as a militia] and overtook the sons of Dan. 23 They shouted to the Danites, who turned and said to Micah, “What is your reason for assembling [against us]?” 24 He said, “You have taken away my gods which I have made, and the priest, and have gone away; what else do I have left? How can you say to me, ‘What is your reason?’” 25 The sons of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice [of complaint] be heard among us, or else angry men will assault you and you will lose your life, along with the lives of [everyone in] your household.” 26 Then the Danites went on their way; and Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back to his house.
27 They took the [idolatrous] things that Micah had made, and his priest, and they came to Laish, to a people who were quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no one to rescue them because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley which belongs to Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 They named the city Dan, after Dan their forefather who was born to Israel (Jacob); however, the original name of the city was Laish. 30 The [tribe of] the sons of Dan set up the image [of silver-plated wood] for themselves; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of [c]Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity and exile from the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s [silver-plated wooden] image which he had made, and kept it throughout the time that the house (tabernacle) of God was at Shiloh.
- Judges 18:1 Their original tribal allotment (Josh 19:40-48) was sufficient; the problem was that they did not subdue the Amorites (Judg 1:34) and the Philistines, who controlled the territory.
- Judges 18:12 I.e. the camp of Dan.
- Judges 18:30 Changed to Manasseh in the Hebrew text.