18 As has already been stated, there was no king in Israel at that time. The tribe of Dan was trying to find a place to settle, for they had not yet driven out the people living in the land assigned to them. 2 So the men of Dan chose five army heroes from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol as scouts to go and spy out the land they were supposed to settle in. Arriving in the hill country of Ephraim, they stayed at Micah’s home. 3 Noticing the young Levite’s accent, they took him aside and asked him, “What are you doing here? Why did you come?” 4 He told them about his contract with Micah, and that he was his personal priest.
5 “Well, then,” they said, “ask God whether or not our trip will be successful.”
6 “Yes,” the priest replied, “all is well. The Lord is taking care of you.”
7 So the five men went on to the town of Laish and noticed how secure everyone felt. Their manner of life was Phoenician, and they were wealthy. They lived quietly and were unprepared for an attack, for there were no tribes in the area strong enough to try it. They lived a great distance from their relatives in Sidon, and had little or no contact with the nearby villages. 8 So the spies returned to their people in Zorah and Eshtaol.
“What about it?” they were asked. “What did you find?”
9-10 And the men replied, “Let’s attack! We have seen the land and it is ours for the taking—a broad, fertile, wonderful place—a real paradise. The people aren’t even prepared to defend themselves! Come on, let’s go! For God has given it to us!”
11 So six hundred armed troops of the tribe of Dan set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 They camped first at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah (which is still called “The Camp of Dan”), 13 then they went on up into the hill country of Ephraim.
As they passed the home of Micah, 14 the five spies told the others. “There is a shrine in there with an ephod, some teraphim, and many plated idols. It’s obvious what we ought to do!”
15-16 So the five men went over to the house and with all of the armed men standing just outside the gate, they talked to the young priest and asked him how he was getting along. 17 Then the five spies entered the shrine and took the idols, the ephod, and the teraphim.
18 “What are you doing?” the young priest demanded when he saw them carrying them out.
19 “Be quiet and come with us,” they said. “Be a priest to all of us. Isn’t it better for you to be a priest to a whole tribe in Israel instead of just to one man in his private home?”
20 The young priest was then quite happy to go with them, and he took along the ephod, the teraphim, and the idols. 21 They started on their way again, placing their children, cattle, and household goods at the front of the column. 22 When they were quite a distance from Micah’s home, Micah and some of his neighbors came chasing after them, 23 yelling at them to stop.
“What do you want, chasing after us like this?” the men of Dan demanded.
24 “What do you mean, ‘What do I want’!” Micah retorted. “You’ve taken away all my gods and my priest, and I have nothing left!”
25 “Be careful how you talk, mister,” the men of Dan replied. “Somebody’s apt to get angry and kill every one of you.”
26 So the men of Dan kept going. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to handle, he turned back home.
27 Then, with Micah’s idols and the priest, the men of Dan arrived at the city of Laish. There weren’t even any guards, so they went in and slaughtered all the people and burned the city to the ground. 28 There was no one to help the inhabitants, for they were too far away from Sidon, and they had no local allies, for they had no dealings with anyone. This happened in the valley next to Beth-rehob. Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the city and lived there. 29 The city was named “Dan” after their ancestor, Israel’s son, but it had originally been called Laish.
30 Then they set up the idols and appointed a man named Jonathan (son of Gershom and grandson of Moses!) and his sons as their priests. This family continued as priests until the city was finally conquered by its enemies. 31 So Micah’s idols were worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle remained at Shiloh.