Judges 18

The People of Dan Make Their Homes in Laish

In those days Israel didn’t have a king.

And in those days the tribe of Dan was looking for a place where they could make their homes. They hadn’t been able to take over their own share of land among the tribes of Israel. So the people of Dan sent out five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol. They told the men to look over the land and check it out. Those men did it for all the people of Dan. Those people told the men, “Go. Check out the land.”

So they entered the hill country of Ephraim. They went to the house of Micah. That’s where they spent the night. When they came near Micah’s house, they recognized a voice. It was the voice of the young Levite. So they turned off the road and stopped there. They asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”

The Levite told them what Micah had done for him. He said, “He has hired me. I’m his priest.”

Then they said to him, “Please ask God for advice. Try to find out whether we’ll have success on our journey.”

The priest answered them, “Go in peace. The Lord is pleased with your journey.”

So the five men left. They came to Laish. There they saw that the people felt secure. They were living in safety. Like the people in Sidon, they were at peace. Their land had everything they needed. Things were going very well for them. They lived a long way from the people of Sidon. And they didn’t think they would ever need help from anyone else.

The men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol. Their people asked them, “What did you find out?”

They answered, “Come on! Let’s attack them! We’ve seen the land, and it is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t wait any longer. Go there and take it over. When you get there, you will find people who aren’t expecting anything bad to happen to them. Their land has plenty of room. God has handed it over to you. It’s a land that has everything you will ever need.”

So 600 men from the tribe of Dan started out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were prepared for battle. On their way they set up camp. Their camp was near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That’s why the place is called Mahaneh Dan to this day. It’s west of Kiriath Jearim. From there they went to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah’s house.

Then the five men who had looked over the land of Laish spoke to the other members of their tribe. They said, “Don’t you know that one of these houses has a sacred linen apron in it? Some statues of family gods are there. That house also has another statue of a god covered with silver. Now you know what to do.” So they turned off the road and stopped there. They went to the house of the young Levite. He was at Micah’s place. They greeted the young man. The 600 men from Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They were prepared for battle. The five men who had looked over the land went inside. They took the statue covered with silver. They also took the family gods and the linen apron. During that time, the priest stood at the entrance of the gate. The 600 men stood there with him. They were prepared for battle.

When the five men went into Micah’s house and took all those things, the priest spoke to them. He asked, “What are you doing?”

They answered him, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us. Be our father and priest. You can serve a whole tribe and family group in Israel as our priest. Isn’t that better than serving just one man’s family?” The priest was very pleased. He took the linen apron and the family gods. He also took the statue of the god that was covered with silver. Then the priest left with the people. They put their little children and their livestock in front of them. They also put everything else they owned in front of them. And they turned and went on their way.

The men who lived near Micah were called together. Then they left and caught up with the people of Dan. That’s because Dan’s people hadn’t gone very far from Micah’s house. Those who lived near Micah shouted at them. The people of Dan turned around and asked Micah, “What’s the matter with you? Why did you call out your men to fight against us?”

He replied, “You took away the gods I made. And you took away my priest. What do I have left? So how can you ask, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ ”

The people of Dan answered, “Don’t argue with us. Some of the men may get angry and attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives.” So the people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw that they were too strong for him. So he turned around and went back home.

The people of Dan took what Micah had made. They also took his priest. They continued on their way to Laish. They went there to fight against a people who were at peace and secure. The people of Dan struck them down with their swords. They burned down their city. No one could save those people and their city. They lived a long way from Sidon. And they didn’t think they would ever need help from anyone else. Their city was located in a valley near Beth Rehob.

The people of Dan rebuilt the city. Then they made their homes there. They named it Dan. That’s because they traced their family line back to Dan. He was a son of Israel. The city used to be called Laish. There the people of Dan set up for themselves the statue of the god that was covered with silver. Jonathan and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan. Jonathan was the son of Gershom, the son of Moses. Jonathan and his sons were priests until the time when the land was captured. The people of Dan continued to use the statue Micah had made. They used it during the whole time the house of God was in Shiloh.

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Judges 19

A Levite and His Concubine

In those days Israel didn’t have a king.

There was a Levite who lived deep in the hill country of Ephraim. He got a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she wasn’t faithful to him. She left him. She went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem in Judah. She stayed there for four months. Then her husband went to see her. He tried to talk her into coming back with him. He had his servant and two donkeys with him. She took her husband into her parents’ home. When her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the woman’s father, begged him to stay. So the Levite remained with him for three days. He ate, drank and slept there.

On the fourth day they got up early. The Levite prepared to leave. But the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have something to eat. It will give you strength. Then you can go on your way.” So the two of them sat down. They ate and drank together. After that, the woman’s father said, “Please stay tonight. Enjoy yourself.” The man got up to go. But his father-in-law talked him into staying. So he stayed there that night. On the morning of the fifth day, the Levite got up to go. But the woman’s father said, “Have something to eat. It will give you strength. Wait until this afternoon!” So the two of them ate together.

Then the man got up to leave. His concubine and his servant got up when he did. But his father-in-law, the woman’s father, spoke to him again. “Look,” he said. “It’s almost evening. The day is nearly over. So spend another night here. Please stay. Enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and go back home.” But the man didn’t want to stay another night. So he left. He went toward Jebus. Jebus is also called Jerusalem. The Levite had his two donkeys and his concubine with him. The donkeys had saddles on them.

By the time the travelers came near Jebus, the day was almost over. So the servant said to his master, “Come. Let’s stop at this Jebusite city. Let’s spend the night here.”

His master replied, “No. We won’t go into any city where strangers live. The people there aren’t Israelites. We’ll continue on to Gibeah.” He added, “Come. Let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah. We can spend the night in one of those places.” So they continued on. As they came near Gibeah in Benjamin, the sun went down. They stopped there to spend the night. They went to the city’s main street and sat down. But no one took them home for the night.

That evening an old man came into the city. He had been working in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim. But he was living in Gibeah. The people who lived there were from the tribe of Benjamin. The old man saw the traveler in the main street. He asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”

The Levite answered, “We’ve come from Bethlehem in Judah. We’re on our way to Ephraim. I live deep in the hill country there. I’ve been to Bethlehem. Now I’m going to the house of the Lord. But no one has taken me home for the night. We have straw and feed for our donkeys. We have food and wine for ourselves. We have enough for me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.”

“You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “I’d be happy to supply anything you might need. But don’t spend the night in the street.” So the old man took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After the travelers had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.

They were inside enjoying themselves. But some of the evil men who lived in the city surrounded the house. They pounded on the door. They shouted to the old man who owned the house. They said, “Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him.”

The owner of the house went outside. He said to them, “No, my friends. Don’t do such an evil thing. This man is my guest. So don’t do this terrible thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter. And here’s the Levite’s concubine. I’ll bring them out to you now. You can have them. Do to them what you want to. But don’t do such a terrible thing to this man.”

The men wouldn’t listen to him. So the Levite sent his concubine out to them. They forced her to have sex with them. They raped her all night long. As the night was ending, they let her go. At sunrise she went back to the house where her master was staying. She fell down at the door. She stayed there until daylight.

Later that morning her master got up. He opened the door of the house. He stepped out to continue on his way. But his concubine was lying there. She had fallen at the doorway of the house. Her hands were reaching out toward the door. He said to her, “Get up. Let’s go.” But there wasn’t any answer. Then he put her dead body on his donkey. And he started out for home.

When he reached home, he got a knife. He cut up his concubine. He cut her into 12 pieces. He sent them into all the territories of Israel. Everyone who saw it spoke to one another. They said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen or done before. Nothing like this has happened since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So let’s hear your ideas!”

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