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The Danites Settle in Laish

18 In those days there was no king in Israel.

And in those days the tribe of the Danites was looking for an inheritance in which to live, for no territory had come into their possession among the tribes of Israel up to that time. So the children of Dan sent out from their families five valorous men from Zorah and Eshtaol in order to spy out and explore the land. They said to them, “Go, explore the land.”

They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and they spent the night there. When they were at the house of Micah, they noticed the speech of the young Levite. They turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?”

He told them what Micah had done for him, saying, “He hired me, and I became his priest.”

They said to him, “Please ask God if we may know whether our mission will be a success as we go to do it.”

The priest said to them, “Go in peace. The Lord is watching the way you are going.”

The five men went away and came to Laish. They saw the people who were there, living securely according to the culture of the Sidonians. There were no rulers in the land who might put them to shame for anything. They were far from the Sidonians and had no ties with anyone.

When they came back to their brothers in Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked them, “What do you have to say?”

They said, “Get up! Let us go up against them, for we have seen the land. It is very good. You are silent, but do not hesitate to go to take the land. 10 When you go, you will come to a secure people and to an expansive land. For God has given it into your hands: a place where there is no lack of anything on the earth.”

11 So six hundred fully armed men set out from the family of the Danites, from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 They went up and set up camp in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. Therefore they call that place Mahaneh Dan to this day. It is west of Kiriath Jearim. 13 From there they passed the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.

14 The five men who went to spy out the land of Laish said to their brothers, “Did you know that in these houses are an ephod, household idols, a carved image, and a metal idol? Now think about what to do.” 15 So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, to the house of Micah, and greeted him. 16 The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were the children of Dan, stood at the entrance to the gate. 17 The five men who went to spy out the land went in and took the carved idol, ephod, household idols, and the metal idol. The priest was standing at the entrance to the gate with the six hundred fully armed men.

18 When these men went into the house of Micah and took the carved idol, ephod, household idols, and the metal idol, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”

19 They said to him, “Quiet! Put your hand over your mouth and go with us. Be a father and priest for us. Is it better to be a priest for one man’s house or for a tribe and a family in Israel?” 20 So the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image and went among the people. 21 So they turned and left, putting the children, livestock, and valuables in front of them.

22 They had gone far from the house of Micah, but the neighbors of Micah assembled and caught up to the children of Dan. 23 They called out to the children of Dan. So they turned and said to Micah, “What is wrong that have you assembled together?”

24 He said, “You took the gods that I made, and the priest, and then you left. What do I have left? So what is this that you say to me, ‘What is wrong?’ ”

25 The children of Dan said to him, “Do not let us hear your voice again. Otherwise bitter men might meet you and you will forfeit your life and the lives of your family.” 26 So the children of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.

27 They took what Micah had made and his priest, and came to Laish to a quiet and secure people. They struck them down with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 There was no one to save them because the city was far from Sidon and had no contact with anyone. It was in the valley by Beth Rehob.

They rebuilt the city and lived there. 29 They called the city Dan, after their father Dan, who was born to Israel (Laish was the former name of the city). 30 The children of Dan set up the carved idol for themselves. Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the time of exile from the land. 31 So they displayed Micah’s graven image that he had made, for the whole time that the house of God was in Shiloh.