Judges 18

Dan's tribe worship idols

1 At that time, Israel had no king to rule over them. The people of Dan's tribe were looking for some land where they could live. They had not yet taken the land that would be their home among Israel's tribes. 2 So the men of Dan sent five soldiers from the clans of their tribe to explore the land. The leaders sent them out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They told them, ‘Go and find some land for us.’

The five men went into the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah's house and they stayed there for a night. 3 While they were at Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. So they went in and they asked him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?’

4 He told them what Micah had done for him. He said, ‘He pays me to work for him as his priest.’ 5 So they said to him, ‘Please ask God if our journey will have a good result.’ 6 Micah's priest answered, ‘Yes, do not worry. The Lord will be with you on your journey.’

7 So the five men continued on their journey. They arrived at Laish. They saw that it was a safe place to live. The people of Laish were not afraid of any trouble. They lived in peace, like the Sidonians do. Their land gave them everything that they needed, so they were rich. They lived a long way from the Sidonians, and there were no other people who would help them.

8 The five men of Dan's tribe returned to Zorah and Eshtaol. Their relatives asked them, ‘What did you find?’ 9 They answered, ‘We should go now and attack them! We saw their land, and it is very good. Do not sit there and wait! Go quickly and take the land for yourselves. 10 When you attack, you will see that the people there think that they are safe. Their land is very big and it has everything that we need. God will surely give it to you.’

11 So 600 men of Dan's tribe prepared for the fight. They marched out from Zorah and Eshtaol with their weapons. 12 On their way, they made their camp at Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That place on the west side of Kiriath Jearim is still called Mahaneh Dan. 13 From there they travelled through the hill country of Ephraim. They arrived at Micah's house.

18:12Mahaneh Dan means ‘Dan's camp’.

14 The five men who had explored the land of Laish said to their relatives, ‘In one of these houses there is an ephod, some small idols, an image and a metal idol? Think carefully and decide what to do.’ 15 So they went into Micah's house, where the young Levite was living. They said ‘hello’ to him. 16 The 600 men of Dan stood at the gate with their weapons. 17 The five men who had explored the land went inside. They took all the idols, the image and the priest's ephod. While they did that, the Levite priest was standing at the gate with the 600 soldiers.

18 When the priest saw that the five men were taking the things from the house, he asked them, ‘What are you doing?’ 19 They said to him, ‘Be quiet! Do not say a word. Come with us. You will be our advisor and our priest. That will be much better for you. You will serve a whole Israelite tribe, instead of only one man's family.’ 20 So the priest was happy. He joined the group of men from Dan's tribe. He took the ephod, the idols and the image with him.

21 They left Micah's house to continue their journey. They followed after their children, their animals and all their other things. 22 After they had travelled some way, Micah realized what had happened. He brought together his neighbours and they chased after the men of Dan. When they reached them, 23 they shouted to them. The men of Dan turned around and they said to Micah, ‘What is the problem? Why have you brought all these men?’

24 Micah replied, ‘You have taken away the gods that I made. You have also taken my priest. Now I have nothing left. You should not ask me, “What is the problem?” ’ 25 The men of Dan said to Micah, ‘Do not argue with us! If you say any more, some of our men may become very angry. They might attack you. You and your family might all die!’

26 Then the men of Dan continued on their journey. Micah realized that they were too strong for him. So he turned around and he went home.

27 The men of Dan took the idols that Micah had made, as well as his priest. Then they arrived at Laish. The people who lived there were not expecting any trouble. The soldiers of Dan attacked the people with their weapons and they killed them. They destroyed the city with fire. 28 No one came to rescue the people of Laish. The city was a long way from Sidon. They had no other friends to help them.

Laish was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites built the city again and they lived there. 29 They called the city Dan, because that was the name of their ancestor. He had been one of Israel's 12 sons. Before that, the city's name was Laish.

30 The people of Dan worshipped Micah's idol. Jonathan served as priest for the tribe of Dan. He was a descendant of Moses' son, Gershom. He and his descendants served there as priests until Israel's enemies took them away into exile. 31 They continued to worship Micah's idol in Dan all the time that God's special tent was in Shiloh.

18:31Shiloh was the place where people should go to worship God. The people of Dan's tribe decided to have their own place to worship their idol.