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18 During this period, Israel had no king, and the tribe of Dan was searching for a territory they could call their own because at that time they had not been assigned land among the other peoples of Israel. So the people of Dan chose five brave men from out of the entire tribe, men from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol, to explore the land and to seek a new home for them. “Go and explore the land,” was their charge.

When they reached the hill country of Ephraim, they stayed in Micah’s home. As they came near Micah’s house, they recognized from his speech that the Levite priest was not from around there.

Danite Spies (to the young Levite): Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?

Levite: To make a long story short, Micah made all this happen for me and put me to work. I serve him as his priest.

Danite Spies: Ask the True God if our mission will succeed.

Levite: Go in peace. The Eternal is watching over you on this mission.

The five spies went on their way and came to Laish, in the northern of the land of Canaan, where they observed that the people seemed to live without concern for their security, like the people of Sidon, quiet and without suspicion, lacking in nothing, and in peace. They were far from Sidon and were not allied with anyone.

So the men returned to their people at Zorah and Eshtaol, who wanted to hear their report. They told their people about the land of Laish.

Danite Spies: Come on, let’s gather our forces and go to war against them, for we have seen the land and it is good. Why are you just sitting there? Don’t waste another minute here. Let’s go in and take that land. 10 When you get there, you’ll see that they don’t suspect any danger. The land is large and is full of every good thing on earth, and God has given it into our hands.

11 Then 600 men from the tribe of Dan armed themselves for war and set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 These warriors of Dan went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim, or city of forests, in Judah, which is why the place just to the west is still called Mahaneh-dan, camp of Dan. 13 From there, they entered the hill country of Ephraim and approached Micah’s house. 14 The five spies who had scouted out the land of Laish spoke to their fellow warriors.

Danite Spies: Did you know that in these houses (the village where Micah lived) are a priestly vest, their household gods, and a cast image of silver? Give some thought to what you would like to do now.

15 They turned and went in the direction of the young Levite’s house at Micah’s place and greeted him. 16 So the 600 Danite warriors waited outside the gate, ready to attack, 17 while the five men who had spied out the land were to go inside to take the sacred objects: the ritual vestment, the household gods, and the cast image of silver. The priest stood at the gates with the warriors; 18 and when the five took the priestly vest, household gods, and the cast image of silver, he said to them,

Levite: What are you doing?

Danite Spies: 19 Be quiet. Keep silent, come with us, and be a father and a priest to us. Isn’t it better for you to be priest and father to an entire tribe and clan of Israel than to a single household?

20 The priest agreed. He took possession of the ritual vestment, household idols, and carved image and joined the people of Dan on their journey. 21 They traveled on, putting their children, livestock, and their possessions in front of the procession. 22 But when they had traveled some distance from Micah’s home, his friends who lived nearby gathered together and chased after the people of Dan.

When they caught up to them, 23 they shouted after the people of Dan.

Danites (to Micah): What’s wrong? What brings so many of you out after us?

Micah: 24 What’s wrong? You steal my household gods and my priest and go off, and where does that leave me? What do you mean, “What’s wrong?”

Danites: 25 You would be wise to lower your voice, or else some hot-tempered individuals among us are likely to attack you. Then you’ll lose your life and the lives of those you care about.

26 With this the people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to protest any further, so he turned and went back home.

27 The people of Dan, having taken Micah’s household gods and his priest, came to Laish; and there they attacked those people who were quiet and without suspicion, killed them without mercy, and burned down their city. 28 No one came to save the people of Laish, since they were far from Sidon and had no treaties with anyone. This all happened in the valley that is near Beth-rehob, house of a broad place. The Danites rebuilt the city there and lived in it. 29 They changed the name of the city from Laish to Dan, after their ancestor and namesake who was born to Israel (also called Jacob). 30 There the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan (son of Gershom, son of Moses) and his sons became the priests to Dan and were their priests until the people of Israel were taken off into captivity. 31 They kept the carved image of Micah as their own for as long as the house of the True God was at Shiloh.

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