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Judges chapter 18

New International Version

1 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.
2 So the Danites sent five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, 'Go, explore the land.' So they entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. 3 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?'
4 He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, 'He has hired me and I am his priest.'
5 Then they said to him, 'Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.'
6 The priest answered them, 'Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval.'
7 So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, at peace 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.
8 When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their fellow Danites asked them, 'How did you find things?'
9 They answered, 'Come on, let's attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. Aren't you going to do something? Don't hesitate to go there and take it over. 10 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.'
11 Then six hundred men of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 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. 13 From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.
14 Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their fellow Danites, 'Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, some household gods and an image overlaid with silver? Now you know what to do.' 15 So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah's place and greeted him. 16 The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance of the gate. 17 The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate.
18 When the five men went into Micah's house and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods, the priest said to them, 'What are you doing?'
19 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?' 20 The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people. 21 Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.
22 When they had gone some distance from Micah's house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. 23 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?'
24 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?''
25 The Danites answered, 'Don't argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.' 26 So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home.
27 Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city.
28 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. 29 They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel--though the city used to be called Laish. 30 There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, 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. 31 They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.
English Standard Version

1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. 2 So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 4 And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” 5 And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” 6 And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.”
7 Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking nothing that is in the earth and possessing wealth, and how they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 And when they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” 9 They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, to enter in and possess the land. 10 As soon as you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people. The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”
11 So 600 men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, 12 and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 And they passed on from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
14 Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” 15 And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. 16 Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18 And when these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20 And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.
21 So they turned and departed, putting the little ones and the livestock and the goods in front of them. 22 When they had gone a distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the people of Dan. 23 And they shouted to the people of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” 24 And he said, “You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then do you ask me, ‘What is the matter with you?’” 25 And the people of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” 26 Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home.
27 But the people of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first. 30 And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.
King James Version

1 In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them 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 coasts, 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 thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here? 4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest. 5 And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, 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: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.
7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; 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 ye? 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 ye still? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land. 10 When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth. 11 And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war. 12 And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim. 13 And they passed thence 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 ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have to do. 15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him. 16 And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate. 17 And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war. 18 And these went into Micah's house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye? 19 And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel? 20 And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, 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 carriage before 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 aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company? 24 And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee? 25 And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy 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 which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote 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 lieth by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein. 29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit 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.
New American Standard Bible

1 In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the sons of Dan sent from their family five men out of their whole number, valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it; and they said to them, 'Go, explore the land.' And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and stayed overnight there. 3 When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite; and they turned aside there and said to him, 'Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?' 4 He said to them, 'Micah has done this and that for me, and he has hired me and I have become his priest.' 5 Then they said to him, 'Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be successful.' 6 And the priest said to them, 'Go in peace; your way in which you are going has the LORD’S approval.'
7 So the five men departed and came to Laish, and saw the people who were in it living in security, in the way of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting; for there was no oppressive ruler humiliating them for anything in the land, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8 When they came back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, 'What do you say?' 9 And they said, 'Arise, and let’s go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you sit still? Do not hesitate to go, to enter, to take possession of the land. 10 When you enter, you will come to an unsuspecting people with a spacious land; for God has handed it over to you, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.'
11 Then from the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out. 12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 And they passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.
14 Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish said to their kinsmen, 'Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod and household idols, and a carved image and a cast metal image? Now then, consider what you should do.' 15 So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him how he was doing. 16 Meanwhile, the six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, were positioned at the entrance of the gate. 17 Now the five men who went to spy out the land went up and entered there; they took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the cast metal image, while the priest was standing at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 18 When these men entered Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, household idols, and the cast metal image, the priest said to them, 'What are you doing?' 19 And they said to him, 'Be silent, put your hand over 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 to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?' 20 The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and went among the people.
21 Then they turned and left, and put the children, the livestock, and the valuables in front of them. 22 When they had distanced themselves from Micah’s house, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house assembled by command and overtook the sons of Dan. 23 Then they called out to the sons of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, 'What is the matter with you, that you have assembled together?' 24 And he said, 'You have taken my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away; what more do I have? So how can you say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’?' 25 Then the sons of Dan said to him, 'Do not let your voice be heard among us, or else fierce men will attack you, and you will lose your life and the lives of your household.' 26 So the sons of Dan went on their way; and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.
27 Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no one to save them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. So they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born to Israel; however, the name of the city was previously Laish. 30 The sons of Dan set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.
New Living Translation

1 Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place where they could settle, for they had not yet moved into the land assigned to them when the land was divided among the tribes of Israel.
2 So the men of Dan chose from their clans five capable warriors from 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 house and spent the night there. 3 While at Micah's house, they recognized the young Levite's accent, so they went over and asked him, 'Who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place? Why are you here?' 4 He told them about his agreement with Micah and that he had been hired as Micah's personal priest.
5 Then they said, 'Ask God whether or not our journey will be successful.'
6 'Go in peace,' the priest replied. 'For the LORD is watching over your journey.'
7 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.
8 When the men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, 'What did you find?'
9 The men replied, 'Come on, let's attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. What are you waiting for? Don't hesitate to go and take possession of it. 10 When you get there, you will find the people living carefree lives. God has given us a spacious and fertile land, lacking in nothing!'
11 So 600 men from the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 They camped at a place west of Kiriath-jearim in Judah, which is called Mahaneh-dan to this day. 13 Then they went on from there into the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.
14 The five men who had scouted out the land around Laish explained to the others, 'These buildings contain a sacred ephod, as well as some household idols, a carved image, and a cast idol. What do you think you should do?' 15 Then the five men turned off the road and went over to Micah's house, where the young Levite lived, and greeted him kindly. 16 As the 600 armed warriors from the tribe of Dan stood at the entrance of the gate, 17 the five scouts entered the shrine and removed the carved image, the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the cast idol. Meanwhile, the priest was standing at the gate with the 600 armed warriors.
18 When the priest saw the men carrying all the sacred objects out of Micah's shrine, he said, 'What are you doing?'
19 '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 and clan of Israel than for the household of just one man?'
20 The young priest was quite happy to go with them, so he took along the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the carved image. 21 They turned and started on their way again, placing their children, livestock, and possessions in front of them.
22 When the people from the tribe of Dan were quite a distance from Micah's house, the people who lived near Micah came chasing after them. 23 They were shouting as they caught up with them. The men of Dan turned around and said to Micah, 'What's the matter? Why have you called these men together and chased after us like this?'
24 'What do you mean, 'What's the matter?'' Micah replied. 'You've taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left!'
25 The men of Dan said, 'Watch what you say! There are some short-tempered men around here who might get angry and kill you and your family.' 26 So the men of Dan continued on their way. When Micah saw that there were too many of them for him to attack, he turned around and went home.
27 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 with swords and burned the town to the ground.
28 There was no one to rescue the people, 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. 29 They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor, Israel's son, but it had originally been called Laish.
30 Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, as their priest. This family continued as priests for the tribe of Dan until the Exile. 31 So Micah's carved image was worshiped by the tribe of Dan as long as the Tabernacle of God remained at Shiloh.
Christian Standard Bible

1 In those days, there was no king in Israel, and the Danite tribe was looking for territory to occupy. Up to that time no territory had been captured by them among the tribes of Israel.
2 So the Danites sent out five brave men from all their clans, from Zorah and Eshtaol, to scout out the land and explore it. They told them, "Go and explore the land."They came to the hill country of Ephraim as far as the home of Micah and spent the night there. 3 While they were near Micah's home, they recognized the accent of the young Levite. So they went over to him and asked, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is keeping you here? " 4 He told them, "This is what Micah has done for me: He has hired me, and I became his priest."
5 Then they said to him, "Please inquire of God for us to determine if we will have a successful journey."
6 The priest told them, "Go in peace. The Lord is watching over the journey you are going on."
7 The five men left and came to Laish. They saw that the people who were there were living securely, in the same way as the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. There was nothing lacking in the land and no oppressive ruler. They were far from the Sidonians, having no alliance with anyone.
8 When the men went back to their relatives at Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, "What did you find out? "
9 They answered, "Come on, let's attack them, for we have seen the land, and it is very good. Why wait? Don't hesitate to go and invade and take possession of the land! 10 When you get there, you will come to an unsuspecting people and a spacious land, for God has handed it over to you. It is a place where nothing on earth is lacking." 11 Six hundred Danites departed from Zorah and Eshtaol armed with weapons of war. 12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. This is why the place is still called the Camp of Dan today; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 From there they traveled to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at Micah's house.
14 The five men who had gone to scout out the land of Laish told their brothers, "Did you know that there are an ephod, household gods, and a carved image and a silver idol in these houses? Now think about what you should do." 15 So they detoured there and went to the house of the young Levite at the home of Micah and greeted him. 16 The six hundred Danite men were standing by the entrance of the city gate, armed with their weapons of war. 17 Then the five men who had gone to scout out the land went in and took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the silver idol, while the priest was standing by the entrance of the city gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.
18 When they entered Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the silver idol, the priest said to them, "What are you doing? "
19 They told him, "Be quiet. Keep your mouth shut. Come with us and be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest for the house of one person or for you to be a priest for a tribe and family in Israel? " 20 So the priest was pleased and took the ephod, household idols, and carved image, and went with the people. 21 They prepared to leave, putting their dependents, livestock, and possessions in front of them.
22 After they were some distance from Micah's house, the men who were in the houses near it were mustered and caught up with the Danites. 23 They called to the Danites, who turned to face them, and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you that you mustered the men? "
24 He said, "You took the gods I had made and the priest, and went away. What do I have left? How can you say to me, 'What's the matter with you? ' "
25 The Danites said to him, "Don't raise your voice against us, or angry men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives." 26 The Danites went on their way, and Micah turned to go back home, because he saw that they were stronger than he was.
27 After they had taken the gods Micah had made and the priest that belonged to him, they went to Laish, to a quiet and unsuspecting people. They killed them with their swords and burned the city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because it was far from Sidon and they had no alliance with anyone. It was in a valley that belonged to Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 They named the city Dan, after the name of their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel. The city was formerly named Laish.
30 The Danites set up the carved image for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the Danite tribe until the time of the exile from the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah's carved image that he had made, and it was there as long as the house of God was in Shiloh.

What does Judges chapter 18 mean?

This chapter completes the story of Micah and his hired family priest (Judges 17:13).

The people of the tribe of Dan don't have enough space in their allotted territory (Joshua 19:40–46). This is because of their failure to follow God's command to take it from the depraved nations living there (Judges 1:34–36). They've been forced to live in the hill country between the territories of the tribes of Judah and Ephraim. So, the Danites decide to find a new place to live. They send five scouts to search for land they can conquer and claim (Judges 18:1–2).

Those five "spies" set out north, stopping for the night at Micah's estate. While there, they recognize the voice of Micah's priest. This probably means they hear his accent and identify him as someone from Judea. They ask if their mission will be successful, implying they want to know what God thinks. The priest quickly tells them that the Lord will have His eye on their journey. This doesn't mean anything, really, but the five spies take it as a positive sign (Judges 18:3–6).

Next, the Danite scouts travel to the far north of the Promised Land. They find a town called Laish, 100 miles, or 160 kilometers, from their current home and beyond the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. They return home with their report: the Sidonian inhabitants of Laish are easy targets. They realize the town is too far from neighbors to call for help, the people are peaceable, and have no idea they are in danger. The Danite spies insist this land is their destiny, eventually convincing their kinsmen to agree. This is a tragic mirror image of Israel's failure at the borders of the Promised Land (Numbers 13—14). There, most of the Israelite scouts claimed they could not defeat the Canaanites, though God guaranteed them victory. Here, the Danite scouts plead to attack a territory which God has not given to them. So, six hundred warriors take their families and possessions and begin to migrate (Judges 18:7–11).

As the caravan moves, the five scouts lead it to Micah's estate. When they arrive, they quickly find and greet the priest, only to steal Micah's religious objects from his personal shrine. This includes the household gods, the carved and metal images, and the ceremonial ephod. The young Levite priest protests, at first. The men of Dan tell him to shut up, yet also offer to take him with them. They say he'd be better off as priest to an entire tribe of Israel. The Levite is thrilled at this prospect and helps the men take Micah's cultic worship objects (Judges 18:12–20).

The Danites break camp and continue their journey north. The armed warriors remain at the back of the procession; civilians and livestock are in front. Micah realizes what they have taken, gathers some neighbors, and chases after the Danites. When he catches up to them, he complains that he's lost everything. The Danites tell Micah they will kill him and his family if he doesn't leave. This is exactly why they arranged their forces in the rear, to make it clear Micah has no hope of stopping them. Rather than risk total annihilation, Micah gives up and goes home. It's not likely he sees the mercy God extends him in this moment, or that he repents of his idolatry. As far as Scripture is concerned, this is the end of his story (Judges 18:21–26).

The people of Dan arrive in Laish. As hoped, the people there are helpless and unprepared for war. So, Dan's warriors slaughter the Sidonians living there and burn the city. Then they rebuild and occupy the town. They change the name of the place to Dan, after their ancestor, the son of Jacob, and the same name given to their tribe (Genesis 30:5–6). Finally, they establish a center of false worship with a focus on Micah's carved image. Tragically, the spiritually bankrupt young Levite man is revealed to be the grandson of Moses (Exodus 2:22). He and his sons serve as the first false priests in a pattern lasting until Dan's invasion by the Assyrians centuries later (Judges 18:27–31).