In those days Israel didn't have a king. And in those days the tribe of Dan was looking for a place where they could settle down. They hadn't been able to take over their own share of land among the tribes of Israel.
So the people of Dan sent out five warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol. They told them to look the land over and check it out. Those men did it for all of their family groups. The people of Dan told the men, "Go. Check out the land." So they entered the hill country of Ephraim. They went to the house of Micah. That's where they spent the night.
When they came near Micah's house, they recognized a voice. It was the voice of the young Levite. So they turned off the road and stopped there. They asked him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?"
The Levite told them what Micah had done for him. He said, "He has hired me. I'm his priest."
Then they said to him, "Please ask God for advice. Try to find out whether we'll have success on our journey."
The priest answered them, "Go in peace. The LORD is pleased with your journey."
So the five men left. They came to Laish. There they saw that the people felt secure. They were living in safety. Like the people in Sidon, they weren't expecting anything bad to happen to them. Their land had everything they needed. Things were going very well for them. They lived a long way from the people of Sidon. And they didn't think they would ever need help from anyone else.
The men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol. Their people asked them, "What did you find out?"
They answered, "Come on! Let's attack them! We've seen that the land is very good. Aren't you going to do something? Don't wait any longer. Go there and take it over.
When you get there, you will find people who aren't expecting anything bad to happen to them. Their land has plenty of room. God has handed it over to you. It's a land that has everything you will ever need."
So 600 men from the tribe of Dan started out from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were prepared for battle.
On their way they set up camp. Their camp was near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That's why the place is called Mahaneh Dan to this very day. It's west of Kiriath Jearim.
From there they went to the hill country of Ephraim. They came to Micah's house.
Then the five men who had looked over the land of Laish spoke to the other members of their tribe. They said, "Don't you know that one of these houses has a sacred linen apron in it? Some statues of family gods are there. It also has two statues of other gods in it. One of them is made out of wood or stone. The other is made out of silver. Now you know what to do."
So they turned off the road and stopped there. They went to the house of the young Levite. He was at Micah's place. They greeted the young man.
The 600 men from Dan stood at the entrance of the gate. They were prepared for battle.
The five men who had looked over the land went inside. They took the two statues. They also took the family gods and the linen apron. During that time, the priest stood at the entrance of the gate. The 600 men stood there with him. They were prepared for battle.
When those men went into Micah's house and took all of those things, the priest spoke to them. He asked, "What are you doing?"
They answered him, "Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us. Be our father and priest. You can serve a whole tribe and family group in Israel as our priest. Isn't that better than serving just one man's family?"
The priest was glad. He took the linen apron and the family gods. He also took the statue of a god that was made out of wood or stone. Then he left with the people.
They put their little children and their livestock in front of them. They also put everything else they owned in front of them. And they turned and went on their way.
The men who lived near Micah were called together. Then they left and caught up with the people of Dan. That's because Dan's people hadn't gone very far from Micah's house.
Those who lived near Micah shouted at them. The people of Dan turned around and spoke to Micah. "What's the matter with you?" they asked. "Why did you call your men out to fight against us?"
He replied, "You took away the gods I made. And you took my priest away. What do I have left? So how can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?' "
The people of Dan answered, "Don't argue with us. Some men get angry quickly. They might attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives."
So the people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw that they were too strong for him. So he turned around and went back home.
The people of Dan took what Micah had made. They also took his priest. They continued on their way to Laish. They went there to fight against peaceful people who weren't expecting to be attacked. They struck them down with their swords. They burned their city down.
No one could save them. They lived a long way from Sidon. And they didn't think they would ever need help from anyone else. Their city was located in a valley near Beth Rehob. The people of Dan rebuilt the city. Then they settled down there.
They named it Dan. That's because they traced their family line back to Dan. He was a son of Israel. The city used to be called Laish.
There the people of Dan set up the statues of gods for themselves. Jonathan and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan. Jonathan was the son of Gershom, the son of Moses. Jonathan and his sons were priests until the time when the land was captured.
They continued to use the statues Micah had made. They used them during the whole time the house of God was in Shiloh.