Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place to settle, for they had not yet driven out the people who lived in the land assigned to them.
So the men of Dan chose five warriors from among their clans, who lived in the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol, to scout out a land for them to settle in. When these warriors arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they came to Micah's home and spent the night there.
Noticing the young Levite's accent, they took him aside and asked him, "Who brought you here, and what are you doing? Why are you here?"
He told them about his agreement with Micah and that he was Micah's personal priest.
Then they said, "Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful."
"Go in peace," the priest replied. "For the LORD will go ahead of you on your journey."
So the five men went on to the town of Laish, where they noticed the people living carefree lives, like the Sidonians; they were peaceful and secure. The people were also wealthy because their land was very fertile. And they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby.
When the men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, "What did you find?"
The men replied, "Let's attack! We have seen the land, and it is very good. You should not hesitate to go and take possession of it.
When you get there, you will find the people living carefree lives. God has given us a spacious and fertile land, lacking in nothing!"
So six hundred warriors from the tribe of Dan set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.
They camped at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah, which is called Mahaneh-dan a to this day.
Then they went up into the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.
The five men who had scouted out the land around Laish said to the others, "There is a shrine here with a sacred ephod, some household idols, a carved image, and a cast idol. It's obvious what we ought to do."
So the five men went over to Micah's house, where the young Levite lived, and greeted him kindly.
As the six hundred warriors from the tribe of Dan stood just outside the gate,
the five spies entered the shrine and took the carved image, the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the cast idol.
When the priest saw the men carrying all the sacred objects out of Micah's shrine, he said, "What are you doing?"
"Be quiet and come with us," they said. "Be a father and priest to all of us. Isn't it better to be a priest for an entire tribe of Israel than just for the household of one man?"
The young priest was quite happy to go with them, so he took along the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the carved image.
They started on their way again, placing their children, livestock, and possessions in front of them.
When the people from the tribe of Dan were quite a distance from Micah's home, Micah and some of his neighbors came chasing after them.
They were shouting as they caught up with them. The men of Dan turned around and said, "What do you want? Why have you called these men together and chased after us like this?"
"What do you mean, What do I want?" Micah replied. "You've taken away all my gods and my priest, and I have nothing left!"
The men of Dan said, "Watch what you say! Some of us are short-tempered, and they might get angry and kill you and your family."
So the men of Dan went on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home.
Then, with Micah's idols and his priest, the men of Dan came to the town of Laish, whose people were peaceful and secure. They attacked and killed all the people and burned the town to the ground.
There was no one to rescue the residents of the town, for they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby. This happened in the valley near Beth-rehob.Then the people of the tribe of Dan rebuilt the town and lived there.
They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel's son, but it had originally been called Laish.
Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, a descendant of Moses, b as their priest. This family continued as priests for the tribe of Dan until the Exile.
So Micah's carved image was worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)