1At that time Israel didn't have a king. The tribe of Dan was looking for territory where they could live, because up until then they hadn't gained possession of the land granted to them among the tribes of Israel.
2So the Danites chose from among them five leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to scout out the land and explore it. “Go and explore the land,” they told them. When the men came to the hill country of Ephraim, they arrived at Micah's house where they spent the night.
3While they were there, they recognized the young Levite's accent, so they went to him and asked him, “So who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”
4“Micah arranged things for me, and he hired me as his priest,” he told them.
5“Please ask the Lord for us so we can find out if our journey will be successful,” they asked him.
6“Go in peace,” the priest replied. “The journey you are taking is being observed by the Lord.”
7The five men left and went to the town of Laish. They observed that the people there lived in safety, and followed the customs of the Sidonians. The people were unsuspecting and confident of their security, at home in a productive land. They didn't have a strong ruler, they lived a long way from the Sidonians, and had no other allies to help them.
8The men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, “What did you…?”
9“Come on, let's go and attack them!” the men interrupted. “We've surveyed the land, and it's excellent! Aren't you going to do something? Don't put off going there and occupying the land!
10When you get there you'll find the people are unsuspecting and the land is extensive. God has given you a place where there's no shortage of anything!”
11So six hundred Danite armed men left Zorah and Eshtaol, ready to attack.
12En route they camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. That's why the place west of Kiriath-jearim is called the Camp of Dan to this very day.
13Then they left from there and went into the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.
14Then the five men who had gone to scout out the land of Laish told the other tribesmen, “Do you realize that here in these houses there's an ephod, household gods, and a carved idol, an image made with molten silver? So you know what you should do.”
15The five men left the road and went to where the young Levite was living in Micah's home to ask how he was.
16The six hundred Danite armed men stood at the entrance by the gate.
17The five men went inside and took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the image made with molten silver. The priest was standing by the gate with the six hundred armed men.
18When the priest saw them taking all the religious objects from Micah's home, he asked them, “What are you doing?”
19“Be quiet! Don't say anything! Come with us, and you can be our ‘father’ and priest. Wouldn't it be better for you if instead of being a priest for just one man's household that you were the priest of an Israelite tribe and family?”
20This seemed like a good idea to the priest and he left with them. Carrying the ephod, the household idols, and the image made with molten silver, he marched with the people all around him.
21They continued their journey, putting their children, livestock, and possessions ahead of them.
22The Danites were already quite a way from Micah's home when men from Micah's village caught up with them,
23shouting at them. The Danites turned around to face them and asked Micah, “What's the matter with you? Why call out these men to come after us?”
24“You stole the gods I made, and my priest too, and then left. What have you left me with? How can you ask me, ‘What's the matter with you?’”
25“Don't complain to us!” Danites replied. “Otherwise some hot-tempered people here might attack you and you and your family will lose your lives!”
26The Danites carried on their way. Micah saw that they were too strong for him to fight so he turned around and went back home.
27So the Danites took with them the idols that Micah had made, as well as his priest. They attacked Laish with its peaceful and unsuspecting people, killed them with swords, and burned down the town.
28No one could save them because they were a long way from Sidon and had no other allies to help them. The town was in the valley belonging to Beth-rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and lived there.
29They renamed the city Dan after their forefather, the son of Israel. Laish was its former name.
30The Danites erected the carved idol to worship, and Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons became priests for the tribe of Dan until the time when the people went into captivity from the land.
31They worshiped the carved idol that Micah had made the whole time God's Temple was at Shiloh.