New International Version

Judges 18

The Danites Settle in Laish

1In those days Israel had no king.

And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. So the Danites sent five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, “Go, explore the land.”

So they entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”

He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, “He has hired me and I am his priest.”

Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.”

The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.”

So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, at peace and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous.[a] Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.[b]

When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their fellow Danites asked them, “How did you find things?”

They answered, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over. 10 When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever.”

11 Then six hundred men of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan[c] to this day. 13 From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.

14 Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their fellow Danites, “Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, some household gods and an image overlaid with silver? Now you know what to do.” 15 So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and greeted him. 16 The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance of the gate. 17 The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate.

18 When the five men went into Micah’s house and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”

19 They answered him, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” 20 The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people. 21 Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.

22 When they had gone some distance from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. 23 As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?”

24 He replied, “You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, ‘What’s the matter with you?’”

25 The Danites answered, “Don’t argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.” 26 So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home.

27 Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.

The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. 29 They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. 30 There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses,[d] and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. 31 They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 18:7 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
  2. Judges 18:7 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts with the Arameans
  3. Judges 18:12 Mahaneh Dan means Dan’s camp.
  4. Judges 18:30 Many Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; many other Hebrew manuscripts and some other Septuagint manuscripts Manasseh

New International Reader's Version

Judges 18

The People of Dan Make Their Homes in Laish

1In 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. 10 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.”

11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan started out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were prepared for battle. 12 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. 13 From there they went to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah’s house.

14 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.” 15 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. 16 The 600 men from Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They were prepared for battle. 17 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.

18 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?”

19 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?” 20 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. 21 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.

22 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. 23 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?”

24 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?’ ”

25 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.” 26 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.

27 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. 28 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. 29 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. 30 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. 31 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.