At that time there was no king in Isra'el, and it was also at that time that the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to claim ownership of and settle in, since they had not yet been given any land of their own among the tribes of Isra'el.
The people of Dan sent five leading men from Tzor'ah and Eshta'ol, representing their whole tribe, to spy out and explore the land. They instructed them, "Go, and explore the land." They came to the hills of Efrayim, to the house of Mikhah, and stayed there.
While they were at Mikhah's house they recognized the accent of the young man, the Levi, so they approached him and said, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is there for you here?"
He answered, "Here's the arrangement Mikhah has made with me: he pays me a wage, and I serve as his cohen."
They said to him, "Please ask God whether our journey will be successful."
The cohen replied, "Don't worry. ADONAI is with you on this journey."
The five men left, came to Layish and saw the people there living securely according to the customs of the Tzidonim, quietly and securely; since no one in the land was exercising authority that might shame them in any respect; moreover, they were far away from the Tzidonim and had no dealings with other peoples.
When they returned to their kinsmen in Tzor'ah and Eshta'ol, they asked them what they had to report.
They said, "Let's go up and attack them. We've seen the land, and it's excellent. Don't delay; start moving! Go in, and take the land!
When you go, you will come to a people who feel safe. There's plenty of land, the place lacks nothing, it has everything there is on earth, and God has given it to you."
So from the tribe of Dan 600 men equipped for war set out from there, from Tzor'ah and Eshta'ol.
They went up and camped at Kiryat-Ye'arim, in Y'hudah, which is why that place is called Machaneh-Dan [the camp of Dan] to this day (actually, it's behind Kiryat-Ye'arim).
From there they passed on into the hills of Efrayim and came to Mikhah's house.
The men who had gone to spy out the land of Layish then said to their kinsmen, "Are you aware that in these buildings there is a ritual vest, household gods and a carved image overlaid with silver? Decide what you ought to do."
They turned off the road and went to the house of the young Levi, that is, to Mikhah's house, and asked how he was doing.
The 600 soldiers from Dan stayed at the gate,
while the five who had spied out the land went in and took the idol overlaid with silver, the vest and the household gods. The cohen had stayed with the 600 soldiers by the gate.
But when they went into Mikhah's house and took the silver-covered image, the vest and the household gods, the cohen asked them, "What are you doing?"
They replied, "Be quiet, keep your mouth shut, and come with us. Be a father and a cohen for us. Which is better? To be a cohen in the house of one man or to be cohen to a whole tribe and family in Isra'el?"
This made the cohen feel very good; so he took the ritual vest, the household gods and the image and went off with the people.
So they turned and left, with their children, cattle and belongings going ahead of them.
When they were a good distance from Mikhah's house, the men who lived in the houses near his got together [with him], overtook the people from Dan
and began shouting at them. The people from Dan turned and said to Mikhah, "What's wrong with you, that you've gathered such a crowd?"
He answered, "You've taken away my god, which I made, and gone off with the cohen! What more have I got? How can you ask me, 'What's wrong with you?'"
The men from Dan replied, "You had best say no more to us, because some of us might get angry and attack you. You could lose your life, and so might the others in your household."
Then the people from Dan went their way; and when Mikhah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.
So they took what Mikhah had made and his cohen. They came to Layish, to a quiet and trusting people. They attacked, killed them and burned down the city.
No one came to rescue them, because it was far from Tzidon, and they had no dealings with other peoples. This was in the valley near Beit-Rechov. Then the people of Dan rebuilt the city and settled there.
They named the city Dan, after Dan their ancestor, who was born to Isra'el; although the city had previously been called Layish.
The people of Dan set up the image for themselves. Y'honatan the son of Gershom, the son of M'nasheh, and his sons were cohanim for the tribe of the people of Dan until the day of the exile from the land.
Thus they erected for themselves Mikhah's idol which he had made, and it remained there as long as the house of God was in Shiloh.