18:1 In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the Danite tribe was looking for a place 1 to settle, because at that time they did not yet have a place to call their own among the tribes of Israel. 2 18:2 The Danites sent out from their whole tribe five representatives, 3 capable men 4 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. 5 18:3 As they approached 6 Micah’s house, they recognized the accent 7 of the young Levite. So they stopped 8 there and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 9 18:4 He told them what Micah had done for him, saying, 10 “He hired me and I became his priest.” 18:5 They said to him, “Seek a divine oracle for us, 11 so we can know if we will be successful on our mission.” 12 18:6 The priest said to them, “Go with confidence. 13 The Lord will be with you on your mission.” 14
18:7 So the five men journeyed on 15 and arrived in Laish. They noticed that the people there 16 were living securely, like the Sidonians do, 17 undisturbed and unsuspecting. No conqueror was troubling them in any way. 18 They lived far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 19 18:8 When the Danites returned to their tribe 20 in Zorah and Eshtaol, their kinsmen 21 asked them, “How did it go?” 22 18:9 They said, “Come on, let’s attack them, 23 for 24 we saw their land and it is very good. You seem lethargic, 25 but don’t hesitate 26 to invade and conquer 27 the land. 18:10 When you invade, 28 you will encounter 29 unsuspecting people. The land is wide! 30 God is handing it over to you – a place that lacks nothing on earth!” 31
18:11 So six hundred Danites, fully armed, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 32 18:12 They went up and camped in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. (To this day that place is called Camp of Dan. 33 It is west 34 of Kiriath Jearim.) 18:13 From there they traveled through the Ephraimite hill country and arrived at Micah’s house. 18:14 The five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish 35 said to their kinsmen, 36 “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.” 18:15 They stopped 37 there, went inside the young Levite’s house (which belonged to Micah), 38 and asked him how he was doing. 39 18:16 Meanwhile the six hundred Danites, fully armed, stood at the entrance to the gate. 40 18:17 The five men who had gone to spy out the land broke in and stole 41 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 six hundred fully armed men. 42 18:18 When these men broke into Micah’s house and stole 43 the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 18:19 They said to him, “Shut up! Put your hand over your mouth and come with us! You can be our adviser 44 and priest. Wouldn’t it be better to be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for just one man’s family?” 45 18:20 The priest was happy. He took the ephod, the personal idols, and the carved image and joined the group. 46
18:21 They turned and went on their way, but they walked behind the children, the cattle, and their possessions. 47 18:22 After they had gone a good distance from Micah’s house, Micah’s neighbors 48 gathered together and caught up with the Danites. 18:23 When they called out to the Danites, the Danites 49 turned around and said to Micah, “Why have you gathered together?” 18:24 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?’” 50 18:25 The Danites said to him, “Don’t say another word to us, or some very angry men 51 will attack you, and you and your family will die.” 52 18:26 The Danites went on their way; when Micah realized 53 they were too strong to resist, 54 he turned around and went home.
18:27 Now the Danites 55 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. 56 18:28 No one came to the rescue because the city 57 was far from Sidon 58 and they had no dealings with anyone. 59 The city 60 was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites 61 rebuilt the city and occupied it. 18:29 They named it Dan after their ancestor, who was one of Israel’s sons. 62 But the city’s name used to be Laish. 18:30 The Danites worshiped 63 the carved image. Jonathan, descendant 64 of Gershom, son of Moses, 65 and his descendants 66 served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the exile. 18:31 They worshiped 67 Micah’s carved image 68 the whole time God’s authorized shrine 69 was in Shiloh.
[18:4] 10 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.
[18:7] 19 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 (’aram, “Aram,” i.e., Arameans) rather than the MT reading אָדָם (’adam). This reading is possibly to be preferred over the MT.
[18:30] 65 tc Several ancient textual witnesses, including some LXX