18 In those days there was no king in Israel, and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought for themselves an inheritance to dwell in; for to that day [their lot] had not fallen to them for inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men of their whole number, men of valour, from Zoreah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to examine it; and they said to them, Go, examine the land. And they came to the hill-country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.
3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man, the Levite; and they turned in thither, and said to him, Who brought thee hither? and what doest thou in this [place]? and what hast thou here?
4 And he said to them, Thus and thus has Micah done to me; and he has hired me, and I am his priest.
5 And they said to him, Inquire, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way on which we go shall be prosperous.
6 And the priest said to them, Go in peace: before Jehovah is your way on which ye go.
7 And the five men departed, and came to Laish; and they saw the people that were therein, dwelling securely, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and no one was in the land who possessed authority, that might put [them] to shame in anything; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had nothing to do with [any] man.
8 —And they came to their brethren at Zoreah and Eshtaol. And their brethren said to them, What [say] ye?
9 And they said, Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good; and ye are still! Be not slothful to go, to enter to take possession of the land.
10 When ye go in, ye shall come to a people secure, and the land is spacious in every direction; for God has given it into your hands; [it is] a place where there is no want of anything that is on the earth.
11 And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zoreah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men girded with weapons of war.
12 And they went up and encamped in Kirjath-jearim, in Judah; therefore they call that place Mahaneh-Dan to this day: behold, it is behind Kirjath-jearim.
13 And they passed thence to mount Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
14 Then the five men that had gone to spy out the country of Laish spoke and said to their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? And now ye know what to do.
15 And they turned thither, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, the house of Micah, and inquired after his welfare.
16 And the six hundred men of the children of Dan, girded with their weapons of war, stood at the entrance of the gate.
17 And the five men that had gone to spy out the land went up, entered in thither, [and] took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image; and the priest stood at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men that were girded with weapons of war.
18 And these came into Micah's house, and took the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. And the priest said to them, What do ye?
19 And they said to him, Hold thy peace, lay thy hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for thee to be a priest for the house of one man, or to be priest for a tribe and a family in Israel?
20 Then the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.
21 And they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the baggage before them.
22 They were already far from the house of Micah, when the men that were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.
23 And they cried to the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said to Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?
24 And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away; and what have I more? and what is this that ye say to me, What aileth thee?
25 And the children of Dan said to him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest men of exasperated spirit run upon you, and thou lose thy life and the lives of thy household.
26 And the children of Dan went their way; and Micah saw that they were too strong for him, and he turned and went back to his house.
27 And they took that which Micah had made, and the priest that he had had, and came upon Laish, upon a people quiet and secure; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burned the city with fire.
28 And there was no deliverer, for it was far from Zidon, and they had nothing to do with [any] man; and it [lay] in the valley that is by Beth-rehob. And they built the city and dwelt therein.
29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel; howbeit Laish was the name of the city at the first.
30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image; and Jehonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses; he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
31 And they set up for themselves Micah's graven image, which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.
New International Version
The Danites Settle in Laish
18 In those days Israel had no king.(A)
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.(B) 2 So the Danites(C) sent five of their leading men(D) from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out(E) the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, “Go, explore the land.”(F)
So they entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah,(G) where they spent the night. 3 When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite;(H) so they turned in there 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, and said, “He has hired me and I am his priest.(I)”
5 Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God(J) to learn whether our journey will be successful.”
6 The priest answered them, “Go in peace(K). Your journey has the Lord’s approval.”
7 So the five men(L) left and came to Laish,(M) where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, at peace and secure.(N) And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous.[a] Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians(O) and had no relationship with anyone else.[b]
8 When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their fellow Danites asked them, “How did you find things?”
9 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.(P) 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(Q) whatever.(R)”
11 Then six hundred men(S) of the Danites,(T) armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim(U) in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan[c](V) to this day. 13 From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.(W)
14 Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish(X) said to their fellow Danites, “Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod,(Y) some household gods and an image overlaid with silver?(Z) 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,(AA) 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(AB) while the priest and the six hundred armed men(AC) stood at the entrance of the gate.
19 They answered him, “Be quiet!(AF) Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest.(AG) Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan(AH) 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(AI) 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,(AJ) 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.(AK) They attacked them with the sword and burned(AL) down their city.(AM) 28 There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon(AN) and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.(AO)
The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. 29 They named it Dan(AP) after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish.(AQ) 30 There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom,(AR) 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,(AS) all the time the house of God(AT) was in Shiloh.(AU)
- Judges 18:7 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
- Judges 18:7 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts with the Arameans
- Judges 18:12 Mahaneh Dan means Dan’s camp.
- Judges 18:30 Many Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; many other Hebrew manuscripts and some other Septuagint manuscripts Manasseh