1 There was no king in Israel in those days. The tribe of Dan was looking for territory to claim and settle in because they had not yet received any land of their own among the tribes of Israel.
2 The people of Dan sent five qualified men out of all the families in the tribe from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol with instructions to explore the land and spy on it. When they arrived in the mountains of Ephraim, they stayed at Micahs house.
3 While they were at Micahs house, they recognized the accent of the young Levite, so they went up to him and asked: What are you doing here? Who brought you here?
4 He answered: »Micah and I have an arrangement. He pays me to serve as his priest.«
5 They said to him: »Please ask God if our journey will be successful.«
6 The priest answered: »Do not worry. Jehovah is taking care of you on this trip.«
7 So the five men left and traveled to the town of Laish. They saw how the people there lived in security like the Sidonians. They were a peaceful, quiet people, with no argument with anyone. They had all they needed. They lived far away from the Sidonians and had nothing to do with any other people.
8 When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, the people asked them what they found.
9 They said: »Come and attack Laish. We saw the land, and it is very good. Do not stay here doing nothing. Enter and possess the land.
10 »When you go you will find a secure people who do not suspect a thing. It is a big country. God has given it to you and it has all you could want.«
11 Six hundred men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol, ready for war.
12 They went up and camped west of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still called Camp of Dan.
13 They went from there to Micahs house in the mountains of Ephraim.
14 The five men who had gone to spy on the country around Laish said to their companions: »Did you know that here in one of these houses there is a wooden idol covered with silver? There are also other idols and an ephod. Consider what you should do.«
15 They went into Micahs house, where the young Levite lived. They greeted the Levite.
16 The six hundred soldiers from the tribe of Dan, ready for battle, stood at the gate.
17 The five spies went straight into the house. They took the wooden idol covered with silver, the other idols, and the ephod. The priest stayed at the gate with the six hundred armed men.
18 The men went into Micahs house and took the sacred objects. The priest asked them: »What are you doing?«
19 They told him: »Be quiet. Do not say a word. Come with us and be our priest and adviser. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?«
20 This filled the priest with joy. He took the sacred objects and went along with them.
21 They turned around and started off, with their children, their livestock, and their belongings going ahead.
22 They traveled a good way from the house when Micah gathered his neighbors for battle. They caught up with the Danites.
23 They shouted at them. The Danites turned around and asked Micah, »What is the problem? Why have you gathered such a company?«
24 Micah answered: »What do you mean? You take my priest and the gods that I made, and walk off! What do I have left?«
25 The Danites responded: »Do not say anymore or these men will get angry and attack you. You and your whole family would die.«
26 The Danites went on their way. Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he went back home.
27 They took the things Micah made and the priest who belonged to him and attacked Laish. Laish was a town of peaceful, quiet people in the same valley as Bethrehob. They killed the inhabitants and burned the town.
28 There was no one to save them, because Laish was a long way from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any other people. The Danites rebuilt the town and settled down there.
29 They changed its name from Laish to Dan, after their ancestor Dan, the son of Jacob.
30 The Danites set up the idol to be worshiped, and Jonathan, the son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, served as a priest for the Danites. His descendants served as their priests until the people were taken away into exile.
31 Micahs idol remained there as long as the Tent where God was worshiped was at Shiloh.