Judges 18

1At that time, the people of Israel did not have a king. And at that time, the family group of Dan was still looking for a place to live. They did not have their own land yet. The other family groups of Israel already had their land. But the family group of Dan had not taken their land yet. 2So the family group of Dan sent five soldiers to look for some land. They went to search for a good place to live. Those 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. 3When the five men came close to Micah’s house, they heard the voice of the young Levite man. 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 here? What is your business here?” 4The young man told them about the things Micah had done for him. “Micah hired me,” the young man said. “I am his priest.” 5So they said to him, “Please ask God something for us. We want to know something: Will our search for a place to live be successful?” 6The priest said to the five men, “Yes. Go in peace. The Lord will lead you on your way.” 7So the five men left. They came to the city of Laish. They 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. 8The five men went back to the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. Their relatives asked them, “What did you learn?” 9The 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! 10When 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.” 11So 600 men from the family group of Dan left the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol. They were ready for war. 12On 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 to this very day. 13From that place, the 600 men traveled on to the hill country of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah’s house. 14So the five men that 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—˻go get them˼.” 15So they stopped at Micah’s house, where the young Levite man lived. They asked the young man how he was. 16The 600 men from the family group of Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They all had their weapons and were ready for war. 17- 18The five spies went into the house. The priest stood just outside by the gate with the 600 men that were ready for war. The men took the carved idol, the ephod, the house idols, and the silver idol. The young Levite priest said, “What are you doing?” 19The 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 is it better for you to be a priest for a whole family group of Israelite people?” 20This made the Levite man happy. So he took the ephod, the house idols, and the idol. He went with those men from the family group of Dan. 21Then the 600 men from the family group of Dan, with the Levite priest, turned and left Micah’s house. They put their little children, their animals, and all their things in front of them. 22The men from the family group 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. 23The men with Micah were shouting at the men of Dan. The men of Dan turned around. They said to Micah, “What’s the problem? Why are you shouting?” 24Micah answered, “You men from Dan took my idols. I made those idols for myself. You have also taken my priest. What do I have left now? How can you ask me, 'What’s the problem?’” 25The men from the family group of Dan answered, “You had better not argue with us. Some of our men have hot tempers. If you shout at us, those men might attack you. You and your families might get killed.” 26Then the men of Dan turned around and went on their way. Micah knew that those men were too strong for him. So he went back home. 27So the men of Dan took the idols that Micah made. They also took the priest that 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 those people with their swords. Then they burned the city. 28The people living in Laish did not have anyone to rescue them. They lived too far from the city of Sidon for those people to help. And the people of Laish did not have any agreements with the people of Aram—so those people 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 that city became their home. 29The people of Dan gave that 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. 30The people of the family group 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. Jonathan and his sons were priests for the family group of Dan until the time when the Israelite people were taken into captivity. 31The people of Dan set up for themselves the idol that Micah had made. That idol was there ˻in the city of Dan˼ the whole time that the house of God was in Shiloh.

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