The Tribe of Dan Captures Laish
18 At that time Israel did not have a king [17:6]. And at that time the tribe of Dan was still ·looking for a land [L seeking an inheritance] where they could live, a land of their own. The Danites had not yet ·been given their own land [moved into their land; received their allotment] among the tribes of Israel. 2 So, from their family groups, they chose five ·soldiers [valiant men; L men, sons of strength] from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out and explore the land. They were told, “Go, explore the land.”
They came to the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim, to Micah’s house, where they spent the night. 3 When they came near Micah’s house, they recognized the ·voice [or accent] of the young Levite [17:7]. So they stopped there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing here? ·Why are you here [What is your business here]?”
4 He told them what Micah had done for him, saying, “He hired me. I am his priest.”
5 They said to him, “Please ask God if ·our journey [our mission; L the way we are going] will be successful.”
6 The priest said to them, “Go in peace. The Lord ·is pleased with [approves of; watches over] your journey.”
7 So the five men left. When they came to the city of Laish, they saw that the people there lived in safety, ·like [L according to the custom of] the people of Sidon. They ·thought they were safe [were quiet and secure/unsuspecting] and ·had plenty of everything [or no ruler was humiliating them]. They lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone else.
8 When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their ·relatives [brothers] asked them, “What did you find?”
9 They answered, “We have seen the land, and it is very good. ·We should attack [L Arise, let us go up against] them. ·Aren’t you going to do something [Are you just going to sit there]? Don’t ·wait [hesitate; or be lazy]! Let’s go and take that land! 10 When you go, you will see there is ·plenty of [a wide/spacious] land—·plenty of everything [lacking nothing]! The people are not expecting an attack. Surely God has handed that land over to us!”
11 So six hundred Danites left Zorah and Eshtaol ·ready for [armed with weapons of] war. 12 On their way they set up camp near the city of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is named Mahaneh Dan [C “Camp of Dan”] to this day. 13 From there they traveled on to the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah’s house.
14 The five men who had explored the land around Laish said to their ·relatives [L brothers], “Do you know in one of these houses there are a ·holy vest [ephod; Ex. 28:6–14], household gods [17:5], an ·idol, and a statue [or image overlaid with silver; 17:3]? ·You know [or Decide now] what to do.” 15 So they stopped at the Levite’s house, which was also Micah’s house, and ·greeted the Levite [or asked how he was doing]. 16 The six hundred ·Danites [L men who were of the sons/descendants of Dan] stood at the entrance gate, wearing their weapons of war. 17 The five spies went into the house and took the ·idol [carved image], the ·holy vest [ephod], the household idols, and the ·statue [cast-metal image]. The priest and the six hundred men armed ·for [L with weapons of] war stood by the entrance gate.
18 When the spies went into Micah’s house and took the [carved] image, the ·holy vest [ephod], the household idols, and the ·statue [cast-metal image], the priest asked them, “What are you doing?”
19 They answered, “Be quiet! ·Don’t say a word [L Put your hand over your mouth]. Come with us and be our father [C meaning an advisor or counselor; 17:10; Gen. 45:8] and priest. Is it better for you to be a priest for one man’s house or for a tribe and ·family group [clan] in Israel?” 20 This ·made the priest happy [L pleased the heart of the priest]. So he took the ·holy vest [ephod], the household idols [17:5], and the ·idol [carved image] and went with the ·Danites [people]. 21 They left Micah’s house, putting their little children, their animals, and everything they owned in front of them [C for protection in case of attack; Gen. 33:2–3].
22 When they had gone a little way from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah ·were called out [assembled] and caught up with them. 23 The men with Micah shouted at the ·Danites [L sons/descendants of Dan], who turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you? Why have you ·been called out to [assembled for a] fight?”
24 Micah answered, “You took my gods that I made and my priest. What do I have left? How can you ask me, ‘What’s the matter?’”
25 The ·Danites [L sons/descendants of Dan] answered, “·You should not argue with [or Don’t say another word to; L Don’t let your voice be heard among] us. Some of our ·angry [bitter] men might attack you, ·killing you [and you will lose your life] and your ·family [L household].” 26 Then the ·Danites [L sons/descendants of Dan] went on their way. Micah knew they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home.
27 Then the Danites took what Micah had made and his priest and went on to Laish. They attacked those ·peaceful [quiet] and ·unsuspecting [secure] people and killed them with their swords and then burned the city. 28 There was no one to ·save [rescue; T deliver] the people of Laish. They lived too far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone else. Laish was in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The people of Dan rebuilt the city and lived there. 29 They named the city Dan after their ancestor Dan, one of the sons of Israel; the city’s original name was Laish.
30 The ·people [L sons; descendants] of Dan set up the ·idol [carved image] in the city of Dan. Jonathan son of Gershom, Moses’ son, and his sons served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the ·land was captured [captivity of the land; time of the exile]. 31 The people of Dan set up the ·idols [carved images] Micah had made as long as the ·Holy Tent [Tabernacle; L House] of God was in Shiloh.