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The Tribe of Dan Finds an Inheritance

18 In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the Danite tribe was looking for a place[a] to settle, because at that time they did not yet have a place to call their own among the tribes of Israel.[b] The Danites sent out from their whole tribe five representatives,[c] capable men[d] from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it. They said to them, “Go, explore the land.” They came to the Ephraimite hill country and spent the night at Micah’s house.[e] As they approached[f] Micah’s house, they recognized the accent[g] of the young Levite. So they stopped[h] there and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?”[i] He told them what Micah had done for him, saying,[j] “He hired me, and I became his priest.” They said to him, “Seek a divine oracle for us,[k] so we can know if we will be successful on our mission.”[l] The priest said to them, “Go with confidence.[m] The Lord will be with you on your mission.”[n]

So the five men journeyed on[o] and arrived in Laish. They noticed that the people there[p] were living securely, like the Sidonians do,[q] undisturbed and unsuspecting. No conqueror was troubling them in any way.[r] They lived far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone.[s] When the Danites returned to their tribe[t] in Zorah and Eshtaol, their kinsmen[u] asked them, “How did it go?”[v] They said, “Come on, let’s attack them,[w] for[x] we saw their land and it is very good. You seem lethargic,[y] but don’t hesitate[z] to invade and conquer[aa] the land. 10 When you invade,[ab] you will encounter[ac] unsuspecting people. The land is wide![ad] God is handing it over to you—a place that lacks nothing on earth!”[ae]

11 So 600 Danites, fully armed, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.[af] 12 They went up and camped in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. (To this day that place is called Camp of Dan.[ag] It is west[ah] of Kiriath Jearim.) 13 From there they traveled through the Ephraimite hill country and arrived at Micah’s house. 14 The five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish[ai] said to their kinsmen,[aj] “Do you realize that inside these houses are an ephod, some personal idols, a carved image, and a metal image? Decide now what you want to do.” 15 They stopped[ak] there, went inside the young Levite’s house (which belonged to Micah),[al] and asked him how he was doing.[am] 16 Meanwhile the 600 Danites, fully armed, stood at the entrance to the gate.[an] 17 The five men who had gone to spy out the land broke in and stole[ao] the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, while the priest was standing at the entrance to the gate with the 600 fully armed men.[ap] 18 When these men broke into Micah’s house and stole[aq] the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 They said to him, “Shut up! Put your hand over your mouth and come with us! You can be our adviser[ar] and priest. Wouldn’t it be better to be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for just one man’s family?”[as] 20 The priest was happy. He took the ephod, the personal idols, and the carved image and joined the group.[at]

21 They turned and went on their way, but they walked behind the children, the cattle, and their possessions.[au] 22 After they had gone a good distance from Micah’s house, Micah’s neighbors[av] gathered together and caught up with the Danites. 23 When they called out to the Danites, the Danites[aw] turned around and said to Micah, “Why have you gathered together?” 24 He said, “You stole my gods that I made, as well as this priest, and then went away. What do I have left? How can you have the audacity to say to me, ‘What do you want?’”[ax] 25 The Danites said to him, “Don’t say another word to us, or some very angry men[ay] will attack you, and you and your family will die.”[az] 26 The Danites went on their way; when Micah realized[ba] they were too strong to resist,[bb] he turned around and went home.

27 Now the Danites[bc] took what Micah had made, as well as his priest, and came to Laish, where the people were undisturbed and unsuspecting. They struck them down with the sword and burned the city.[bd] 28 No one came to the rescue because the city[be] was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone.[bf] The city[bg] was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites[bh] rebuilt the city and occupied it. 29 They named it Dan after their ancestor, who was one of Israel’s sons.[bi] But the city’s name used to be Laish. 30 The Danites worshiped[bj] the carved image. Jonathan, descendant[bk] of Gershom, son of Moses,[bl] and his descendants[bm] served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the exile. 31 They worshiped[bn] Micah’s carved image[bo] the whole time God’s authorized shrine[bp] was in Shiloh.


  1. Judges 18:1 tn Heb “an inheritance.”
  2. Judges 18:1 tn Heb “because there had not fallen to them by that day in the midst of the tribes of Israel an inheritance.”
  3. Judges 18:2 tn Heb “The Danites sent from their tribe five men, from their borders.”
  4. Judges 18:2 tn Heb “men, sons of strength.”
  5. Judges 18:2 tn Heb “They came to the Ephraimite hill country, to Micah’s house, and spent the night there.”
  6. Judges 18:3 tn Or “When they were near.”
  7. Judges 18:3 tn Heb “voice.” This probably means that “his speech was Judahite [i.e., southern] like their own, not Israelite [i.e., northern]” (R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 263).
  8. Judges 18:3 tn Heb “turned aside.”
  9. Judges 18:3 tn Heb “What [is there] to you here?”
  10. Judges 18:4 tn Heb “He said to them, ‘Such and such Micah has done for me.’” Though the statement is introduced and presented, at least in part, as a direct quotation (note especially “for me”), the phrase “such and such” appears to be the narrator’s condensed version of what the Levite really said.
  11. Judges 18:5 tn Heb “Ask God.”
  12. Judges 18:5 tn Heb “so we can know if our way on which we are going will be successful.”
  13. Judges 18:6 tn Heb “in peace.”
  14. Judges 18:6 tn Heb “In front of the Lord is your way in which you are going.”
  15. Judges 18:7 tn Or “went.”
  16. Judges 18:7 tn Heb “who were in its midst.”
  17. Judges 18:7 tn Heb “according to the custom of the Sidonians.”
  18. Judges 18:7 tn Heb “and there was no one humiliating anything in the land, one taking possession [by] force.”
  19. Judges 18:7 tc Heb “and a thing there was not to them with men.” Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX and Symmachus read “Syria” here rather than the MT’s “men.” This reading presupposes a Hebrew Vorlage אֲרָם (ʾaram, “Aram,” i.e., Arameans) rather than the MT reading אָדָם (ʾadam). This reading is possibly to be preferred over the MT.
  20. Judges 18:8 tn Heb “They came to their brothers.”
  21. Judges 18:8 tn Heb “brothers.”
  22. Judges 18:8 tn Heb “What you?”
  23. Judges 18:9 tn Heb “Arise, and let us go up against them.”
  24. Judges 18:9 tc Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX adds “we entered and walked around in the land as far as Laish and.”
  25. Judges 18:9 tn Heb “But you are inactive.”
  26. Judges 18:9 tn Or “be lazy.”
  27. Judges 18:9 tn Heb “to go”; “to enter”; “to possess.”
  28. Judges 18:10 tn Heb “When you enter.”
  29. Judges 18:10 tn Heb “you will come to.”
  30. Judges 18:10 tn Heb “broad of hands,” an idiom meaning “wide on both sides.”
  31. Judges 18:10 tn Heb “a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”
  32. Judges 18:11 tn Heb “They journeyed from there, from the tribe of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, 600 men, equipped with weapons of war.”
  33. Judges 18:12 tn Or “Mahaneh Dan”; the Hebrew term “Mahaneh” means “camp [of].” Many English versions retain the transliterated Hebrew expression, but cf. CEV “Dan’s Camp.”
  34. Judges 18:12 tn Heb “behind.”
  35. Judges 18:14 tc Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX lacks the phrase “of Laish.”
  36. Judges 18:14 tn Heb “brothers.”
  37. Judges 18:15 tn Heb “turned aside.”
  38. Judges 18:15 tn Heb “Micah’s house.”
  39. Judges 18:15 tn Heb “they asked him concerning peace.”
  40. Judges 18:16 tn Heb “And the 600 men, equipped with the weapons of war…from the sons of Dan.”
  41. Judges 18:17 tn Heb “went up, went in there, took.”
  42. Judges 18:17 tn Heb “600 men, equipped with the weapons of war.”
  43. Judges 18:18 tn Heb “These went into Micah’s house and took.”
  44. Judges 18:19 tn See the note on the word “adviser” in 17:10.
  45. Judges 18:19 tn Heb “Is it better for you to be priest for the house of one man or for you to be priest for a tribe, for a clan in Israel?”
  46. Judges 18:20 tn Heb “and went into the midst of the people.”
  47. Judges 18:21 tn Heb “They turned and went and put the children, the cattle, and the possessions in front of them.”
  48. Judges 18:22 tn Heb “the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house.”
  49. Judges 18:23 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Danites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  50. Judges 18:24 tn Heb “What is this you say to me, ‘What to you?’”
  51. Judges 18:25 tn Heb “bitter in spirit.” This phrase is used in 2 Sam 17:8 of David and his warriors, who are compared to a bear robbed of her cubs.
  52. Judges 18:25 tn Heb “and you will gather up your life and the life of your house.”
  53. Judges 18:26 tn Heb “saw.”
  54. Judges 18:26 tn Heb “they were stronger than he.”
  55. Judges 18:27 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Danites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  56. Judges 18:27 tn The Hebrew adds “with fire.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons, because it is redundant in English.
  57. Judges 18:28 tn Heb “it.” The Hebrew pronoun is feminine singular here, referring to the “city” (a grammatically feminine singular noun) mentioned in v. 27.
  58. Judges 18:28 tn Heb “and a thing there was not to them with men.”
  59. Judges 18:28 tn Heb “it.” The Hebrew pronoun is feminine singular here, referring to the “city” (a grammatically feminine singular noun) mentioned in v. 27.
  60. Judges 18:28 tn Heb “They”; the referent (the Danites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  61. Judges 18:29 tn Heb “They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who had been born to Israel.”
  62. Judges 18:30 tn Heb “erected for themselves.”
  63. Judges 18:30 tn Heb “son.”
  64. Judges 18:30 tc Several ancient textual witnesses, including some LXX mss and the Vulgate, support the reading “Moses” (מֹשֶׁה, mosheh) here. Many Hebrew mss have a nun (נ) suspended above the name between the first two letters (מנשׁה), suggesting the name Manasseh (מְנַשֶּׁה, menasheh). This is probably a scribal attempt to protect Moses’ reputation. For discussion, see G. F. Moore, Judges (ICC), 401-2.
  65. Judges 18:30 tn Heb “sons.”
  66. Judges 18:31 tn Heb “they set up for themselves.”
  67. Judges 18:31 tn Heb “the carved image that Micah had made.”
  68. Judges 18:31 tn Heb “the house of God.”

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