In those days, there was no king in Israel, and the Danite tribe was looking for territory to occupy. Up to that time no territory had been captured [by them] among the tribes of Israel.
References for Judges 18:1
So the Danites sent out five brave men from all their clans, from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it. They told them, "Go and explore the land." They came to the hill country of Ephraim as far as the home of Micah and spent the night there.
While they were near Micah's home, they recognized the speech of the young Levite. So they went over to him and asked, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is keeping you here?"
He told them what Micah had done for him and that he had hired him as his priest.
Then they said to him, "Please inquire of God so we will know if we will have a successful journey."
The priest told them, "Go in peace. The Lord is watching over the journey you are going on."
The five men left and came to Laish. They saw that the people who were there were living securely, in the same way as the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. There was nothing lacking in the land and no oppressive ruler. They were far from the Sidonians, having no alliance with anyone.
References for Judges 18:7
When the men went back to their clans at Zorah and Eshtaol, their people asked them, "What did you find out?"
They answered, "Come on, let's go up against them, for we have seen the land, and it is very good. Why wait? Don't hesitate to go and invade and take possession of the land!
When you get there, you will come to an unsuspecting people and a wide-open land, for God has handed it over to you. It is a place where nothing on earth is lacking."
Six hundred Danites departed from Zorah and Eshtaol armed with weapons of war.
They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. This is why the place is called the Camp of Dan to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim.
References for Judges 18:12
From there they traveled to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at Micah's house.
The five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish told their brothers, "Did you know that there are an ephod, household gods, and a carved image overlaid with silver in these houses? Now think about what you should do."
References for Judges 18:14
So they detoured there and went to the house of the young Levite at the home of Micah and greeted him.
The 600 Danite men were standing by the entrance of the gate, armed with their weapons of war.
Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land went in and took the carved image overlaid with silver, the ephod, and the household idols, while the priest was standing by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war.
References for Judges 18:17
When they entered Micah's house and took the carved image overlaid with silver, the ephod, and the household idols, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?"
References for Judges 18:18
They told him, "Be quiet. Keep your mouth shut. Come with us and be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest for the house of one person or for you to be a priest for a tribe and family in Israel?"
References for Judges 18:19
So the priest was pleased and took his ephod, household idols, and carved image, and went with the people.
They prepared to leave, putting their small children, livestock, and possessions in front of them.
After they were some distance from Micah's house, the men who were in the houses near it mobilized and caught up with the Danites.
They called to the Danites, who turned to face them, and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you that you mobilized [the men]?"
He said, "You took the gods I had made and the priest, and went away. What do I have left? How can you say to me, 'What's the matter with you?' "
The Danites said to him, "Don't raise your voice against us, or angry men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives."
The Danites went on their way, and Micah turned to go back home, because he saw that they were stronger than he was.
After they had taken the gods Micah had made and the priest that belonged to him, they went to Laish, to a quiet and unsuspecting people. They killed them with their swords and burned down the city.
References for Judges 18:27
There was no one to save them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no alliance with anyone. It was in a valley that belonged to Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the city and lived in it.
They named the city Dan, after the name of their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel. The city was formerly named Laish.
The Danites set up the carved image for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the Danite tribe until the time of the exile from the land.
References for Judges 18:30
So they set up for themselves Micah's carved image that he had made, [and it was there] as long as the house of God was in Shiloh.