Judges 18

The Danites take Micah's idols

1 In those days Israel had no king. The people of Dan's tribe were looking for a place to live. They wanted their own land to live in. They had not taken the land that Joshua promised to their tribe (Joshua 19:40-48). 2 The Danites sent five soldiers from Zorah to Eshtaol to explore the land. These men came from all the families of Dan. The leaders told them, ‘Go and explore the land’.

The men went into the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah's house and stayed there for a night. 3 As they came near to Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. They went in and 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 be his priest’.

5 They said to him, ‘Please ask God if our journey will have a good result’.

6 The priest answered, ‘Go in peace. The Lord will be with you on your journey’.

7 So the 5 men left and went to Laish. They saw that it was a safe, quiet place. The people of Laish thought that they would never have to fight. The people of Sidon (the Sidonians) thought the same. Their land was good, so they were rich. They lived a long way from the Sidonians. They had no other friends.

8 The men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol. Their brothers asked them, ‘What did you find?’

9 They answered, ‘Let us go and attack them. The land is very good. You must do something. Do not be afraid to go there. We can win it. 10 The people there think that they are safe. You will find a large land. It has everything. God has given it to you’.

11 600 Danite men prepared for the fight. They took their weapons. They left Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 On their way they put up their tents near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place to the west of Kiriath Jearim is still called Mahaneh Dan. (Dan's camp.) 13 From there they went to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah's house. 14 The 5 men who had explored the land said to their brothers, ‘Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, an image and an idol? Now you know what to do’. 15 So they went to meet the young Levite in Micah's house. 16 The 600 Danites stood at the gate. They were ready for battle. 17 The 5 men who had explored the land went in. They took all the silver idols and other things. The priest and the Danite soldiers stood outside the gate.

18 So the 5 men went into Micah's house and took his ephod and idols and other gods. Then the priest (the Levite) asked them, ‘What are you doing?’

19 They answered him, ‘Be quiet! Do not say a word. Come with us, and be our father and our priest. It will be better for you to serve a whole tribe of Israel. It will be better than now, when you are serving only one man's family’. 20 Then the priest was happy. He took the ephod, the other gods and idols, and went with the Danites. 21 The people put their little children and animals in front of them. They took all their own things. Then they left.

22 The men who lived near Micah came together. They ran after the Danites and met them as they travelled. 23 They shouted after the Danites. The Danites turned and spoke to Micah, ‘What is the matter? Why are you coming to fight with us?’

24 Micah replied, ‘You have taken the gods that I made. You have taken my priest. I have nothing left. How can you ask me what is wrong?’

25 The Danites answered, ‘Do not argue with us. Some of us are very quick to get angry. We might attack you and your family and kill you all’. 26 The Danites went on their journey, and Micah went home. He saw that they were too strong for him.

27 They took what Micah had made. They took his priest. Then they went on to Laish. They attacked the people there and destroyed their city by fire. The people of Laish had thought that they were safe. 28 No one came to save them. They lived a long way from Sidon. They had no other friends. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.

The Danites built the city again and lived there. 29 They called it Dan, after their father Dan. He had been one of Israel's (Jacob's) 12 sons. The city had been called Laish.

30 The Danites put the idols there. Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Moses, became their priest. He and his sons served there as priests for Dan. They served until other people started to rule the land of Israel. 31 They continued to use the idols which Micah had made at the time when the House of God was in Shiloh.

18:31The tribe of Dan started to serve false gods. They left the God of Israel. It tells us that there was no king in Israel at that time. But every man did what he thought to be right. People had forgotten God's rules. Perhaps the Danites lived too far from Shiloh to learn about God. The gods that Micah had made could not stop the Danites from taking them away. The Levite went with them. No one remembered God's rules.