In those days Israel didn't have a king. And in those days the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to live. Up to that time they had not received land as an inheritance among the tribes of Israel as they should have.
So all the families of Dan sent out five qualified men from Zorah and Eshtaol. They were sent to spy throughout the land and explore it. They were told, "Go and explore the land!" They came to Micah's house in the mountains of Ephraim. They spent the night there.
While they were at Micah's house, they recognized the young Levite's voice. So they stopped to ask him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing here? Why are you here?"
The Levite told them what Micah had done for him and added, "Micah hired me, so I became his priest."
They said to him, "Please find out from God if our journey will be successful."
The priest told them, "Go in peace. The LORD approves of your journey."
The five men left there and came to the city of Laish. They saw that the people there lived without a care. These people were like the people of Sidon. They were peaceful and secure. There was no one around who threatened to take away their property by force. They were far from the people of Sidon and totally independent.
The men went back to their relatives in Zorah and Eshtaol. Their relatives asked them, "What did you find?"
They replied, "Get up, let's attack Laish. We saw the land. It's very good! "Don't just sit there! Go at once and take the land.
When you get there, you will come to a secure people. The land is wide open to you. God will hand it over to you. It's a place where you will have everything you could want."
So 600 men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol armed for war.
They camped at Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place just west of Kiriath Jearim is still called Mahaneh Dan [The Camp of Dan] today.
From there they marched to the mountains of Ephraim as far as Micah's house.
Then the five men who had gone to spy throughout the land around Laish spoke up. They said to the other men of Dan, "Do you know that there's an ephod, a carved idol, a metal idol, and household idols in these houses? What do you think we should do?"
So they stopped and entered Micah's house and greeted the young Levite.
The 600 armed men from Dan stood at the entrance to the city.
The five men who had gone to spy throughout the land went inside. They took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the metal idol. The priest stood at the entrance to the city with the 600 armed men.
When these men entered Micah's house and took the carved idol, the ephod, the household idols, and the metal idol, the priest asked them, "What are you doing?"
They told him, "Keep quiet! Don't say a word! Come with us and be our father and priest. Is it better for you to be a priest for one man's house or for a tribe in Israel and its families?"
The priest was content. He took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved idol and went with the people.
When they left, they put their children, livestock, and property in front of them.
When they had already gone some distance from Micah's house, Micah's neighbors were called together to help him catch up to the people of Dan.
They shouted at them. But the people of Dan turned around and said to Micah, "What's your problem? Why did you call your neighbors together to attack us?"
Micah answered, "You've taken away the gods I made as well as my priest. What do I have left? How can you say to me, 'What's your problem?'"
The people of Dan replied, "Don't make another sound, or some violent men will attack you. Then you and your family will lose your lives."
The people of Dan went on their way. Micah saw they were stronger than he was, so he turned around and went home.
The people of Dan took what Micah had made and the man who had become his priest and went to the city of Laish. They attacked a peaceful and secure people, killed them all with swords, and burned their city.
There was no one to rescue them because their city was far from Sidon and totally independent. The city was in the valley that belonged to Beth Rehob. The people of Dan rebuilt the city and lived in it.
They named the city Dan in honor of their ancestor Dan, Israel's son. Originally, the city was called Laish.
The people of Dan set up the carved idol for themselves. Jonathan (son of Gershom and grandson of Moses) and his descendants were priests for Dan's tribe until the people living in that land were taken captive.
So they set up for themselves the carved idol Micah had made. It stayed there the whole time the house of God was at Shiloh.