Dan Captures the City of Laish
18 At that time the Israelites did not have a king. And the tribe of Dan was still looking for a place to live. They did not have their own land yet. The other tribes of Israel already had their land, but the tribe of Dan had not taken their land yet.
2 So the tribe of Dan sent five soldiers to look for some land. They went to search for a good place to live. These five men were from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. They were chosen because they were from all the families of Dan. They were told, “Go, look for some land.”
The five men came to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah’s house and spent the night there. 3 When the five men came close to Micah’s house, they heard the voice of the young Levite. They recognized his voice, so they stopped at Micah’s house. They asked the young man, “Who brought you to this place? What are you doing? Why are you here?”
4 The young man told them what Micah had done for him. “Micah hired me,” he said. “I am his priest.”
5 So they said to him, “Please ask God if our search for a place to live will be successful.”
6 The priest said to the five men, “Yes. Go in peace. The Lord will lead you on your way.”
7 So the five men left. They came to the city of Laish and saw that the people of that city lived in safety. They were ruled by the people of Sidon. Everything was peaceful and quiet. The people had plenty of everything, and they didn’t have any enemies nearby to hurt them. Also they lived a long way from the city of Sidon, and they did not have any agreements with the people of Aram.[a]
8 The five men went back to the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Their relatives asked them, “What did you learn?”
9 The five men answered, “We have found some land, and it is very good. We should attack them. Don’t wait! Let’s go and take that land! 10 When you come to that place, you will see that there is plenty of land. There is plenty of everything there. You will also see that the people are not expecting an attack. Surely God has given that land to us.”
11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan left the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. They were ready for war. 12 On their way to the city of Laish, they stopped near the city of Kiriath Jearim in the land of Judah. They set up a camp there. That is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is named Mahaneh Dan[b] to this very day. 13 From there the 600 men traveled on to the hill country of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah’s house.
14 So the five men who had explored the land around Laish spoke. They said to their relatives, “There is an ephod in one of these houses. And there are also household gods, a carved statue, and a silver idol. You know what to do.” 15 So they stopped at Micah’s house, where the young Levite lived. They asked the young man how he was. 16 The 600 men from the tribe of Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They all had their weapons and were ready for war. 17-18 The five spies went into the house. The priest stood just outside by the gate with the 600 men who were ready for war. The men took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the silver idol. The young Levite priest said, “What are you doing?”
19 The five men answered, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us. Be our father and our priest. You must choose. Is it better for you to be a priest for just one man or for a whole tribe of Israelites with many family groups?”
20 This made the Levite happy. So he took the ephod, the household idols, and the idol. He went with the men from the tribe of Dan.
21 Then the 600 men from the tribe of Dan and the Levite priest turned and left Micah’s house. They put their little children, their animals, and all their things in front of them.
22 The men from the tribe of Dan went a long way from that place. But the people living near Micah met together. Then they began chasing the men of Dan and caught up with them. 23 The men with Micah were shouting at the men of Dan. The men of Dan turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the problem? Why are you shouting?”
24 Micah answered, “You men from Dan took my idols. I made them for myself. You have also taken my priest. What do I have left now? How can you ask me, ‘What’s the problem?’”
25 The men from the tribe of Dan answered, “You had better not argue with us. Some of our men become angry easily. If you shout at us, they will attack you. You and your families will be killed.”
26 Then the men of Dan turned around and went on their way. Micah knew that these men were too strong for him, so he went back home.
27 So the men of Dan took the idols that Micah made. They also took the priest who had been with Micah. Then they came to Laish. They attacked the people living in Laish. Those people were at peace. They were not expecting an attack. The men of Dan killed them with their swords and then burned the city. 28 The people living in Laish did not have anyone to rescue them. They lived too far from the city of Sidon for the people there to help. And the people of Laish did not have any agreements with the people of Aram—so they did not help them. The city of Laish was in a valley, which belonged to the town of Beth Rehob. The people from Dan built a new city in that place, and it became their home. 29 The people of Dan gave the city a new name. That city had been called Laish, but they changed the name to Dan. They named the city after their ancestor Dan, one of the sons of Israel.
30 The people of the tribe of Dan set up the idol in the city of Dan. They made Jonathan son of Gershom their priest. Gershom was the son of Moses.[c] Jonathan and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time when the Israelites were taken into captivity. 31 The people of Dan set up for themselves the idol that Micah had made. That idol was there the whole time that the house of God was in Shiloh.