Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim
said to his mother, "The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse--I have that silver with me; I took it." Then his mother said, "The LORD bless you, my son!"
When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, "I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol. I will give it back to you."
So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah's house.
Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest.
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah,
left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim.
Micah asked him, "Where are you from?" "I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah," he said, "and I'm looking for a place to stay."
Then Micah said to him, "Live with me and be my father and priest, and I'll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food."
So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons.
Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house.
And Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest."
In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
So the Danites sent five warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all their clans. They told them, "Go, explore the land." The men entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night.
When they were near Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?"
He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, "He has hired me and I am his priest."
Then they said to him, "Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful."
The priest answered them, "Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval."
So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.
When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked them, "How did you find things?"
They answered, "Come on, let's attack them! We have seen that the land is very good. Aren't you going to do something? Don't hesitate to go there and take it over.
When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever."
Then six hundred men from the clan of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.
On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan to this day.
From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.
Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their brothers, "Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, other household gods, a carved image and a cast idol? Now you know what to do."
So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah's place and greeted him.
The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance to the gate.
The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance to the gate.
When these men went into Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?"
They answered him, "Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn't it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man's household?"
Then the priest was glad. He took the ephod, the other household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.
Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.
When they had gone some distance from Micah's house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites.
As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?"
He replied, "You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?' "
The Danites answered, "Don't argue with us, or some hot-tempered men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives."
So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home.
Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city.
There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there.
They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel--though the city used to be called Laish.
There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land.
They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.
In those days Israel had no king. Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.
But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her father's house in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months,
her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her father's house, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him.
His father-in-law, the girl's father, prevailed upon him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Refresh yourself with something to eat; then you can go."
So the two of them sat down to eat and drink together. Afterward the girl's father said, "Please stay tonight and enjoy yourself."
And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night.
On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the girl's father said, "Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!" So the two of them ate together.
Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the girl's father, said, "Now look, it's almost evening. Spend the night here; the day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and be on your way home."
But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.
When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, "Come, let's stop at this city of the Jebusites and spend the night."
His master replied, "No. We won't go into an alien city, whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah."
He added, "Come, let's try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places."
So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin.
There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them into his home for the night.
That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the men of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields.
When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, "Where are you going? Where did you come from?"
He answered, "We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the LORD. No one has taken me into his house.
We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants--me, your maidservant, and the young man with us. We don't need anything."
"You are welcome at my house," the old man said. "Let me supply whatever you need. Only don't spend the night in the square."
So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, "Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him."
The owner of the house went outside and said to them, "No, my friends, don't be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don't do this disgraceful thing.
Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don't do such a disgraceful thing."
But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.
At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.
He said to her, "Get up; let's go." But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, "Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!"