Chapter 18

1. In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought themselves an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.
2. And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their territory, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.
3. When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in there, and said unto him, Who brought you here? and what are you doing in this place? and what do you have here?
4. And he said unto them, Thus and thus deals Micah with me, and has hired me, and I am his priest.
5. And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray you, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
6. And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: the LORD is before your way in which you go.
7. Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were there, how they dwelt safely, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might shame them in anything; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.
8. And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say you?
9. And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are you still here? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land.
10. When you go, you shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God has given it into your hands; a place where there is no lack of any thing that is in the earth.
11. And there went from there of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war.
12. And they went up, and encamped in Kiriathjearim, in Judah: therefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is west of Kiriathjearim.
13. And they passed from there unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.
14. Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and household gods, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what you have to do.
15. And they turned aside there, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and greeted him.
16. And the six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate.
17. And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in there, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the household gods, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men that were armed with weapons of war.
18. And these went into Micah's house, and took the carved image, the ephod, and the household gods, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What are you doing?
19. And they said unto him, Hold your peace, lay your hand upon your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?
20. And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the household gods, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.
21. So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the goods in front of them.
22. And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.
23. And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What ails you, that you come with such a company?
24. And he said, you have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that you say unto me, What ails you?
25. And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household.
26. And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.
27. And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest that he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were quiet and secure: and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.
28. And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lies by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt in it.
29. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: however the name of the city was Laish at the first.
30. And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
31. And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.