1. In those days there was no king in Israel. Now in those days the tribe of Dan was in search of a territory to live in, for until then no territory had fallen to them among the tribes of Israel.
2. From their clan the Danites sent five brave men from Zorah and Eshtaol to reconnoitre the country and explore it. They said to them, 'Go and explore the country.' The five men came to the highlands of Ephraim, as far as Micah's house, and spent the night there.
3. When they were near Micah's house, they recognised the voice of the young Levite and, going nearer, said to him, 'Who brought you here? What are you doing here? What is keeping you here?'
4. He replied, 'Micah has made certain arrangements with me. He pays me a wage and I act as his priest.'
5. They replied, 'Then consult God, so that we may know whether the journey we are on will lead to success.'
6. The priest replied, 'Go in peace; Yahweh is watching over your journey.'
7. The five men then left and, arriving at Laish, saw that the people living there had an untroubled existence, according to the customs of the Sidonians, peaceful and trusting, that there was no lack or shortage of any sort in the territory, that they were a long way away from the Sidonians and that they had no contact with the Aramaeans.
8. They then went back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol and, when the latter asked them, 'What have you to report?'
9. they said, 'Up! we must go against them, since we have looked at the country and it is excellent, though you take no action! Waste no time in setting out and taking possession of the country.
10. When you get there, you will find a trusting people. The country is wide, and God has put it at your mercy. It is a place where there is no lack of anything on earth.'
11. From these places, consequently, from the clan of Danites at Zorah and Eshtaol, six hundred men set out equipped for war.
12. They went up and camped at Kiriath-Jearim in Judah; and for this reason the place is still called the Camp of Dan today. It lies to the west of Kiriath-Jearim.
13. From there they entered the highlands of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.
14. The five men who had been to reconnoitre the country then spoke to their brothers. 'Do you know', they said, 'that in these houses there is an ephod, some domestic images, a carved statue and an idol cast in metal? So now work out what you have got to do!
15. So, turning off the road, they went to the young Levite's dwelling, to Micah's house, and greeted him peacefully.
16. While the six hundred men of the Danites, equipped for war, stood at the threshold of the gate,
17. the five who had been to reconnoitre the country went on into the house and took the carved statue, the ephod, the domestic images and the idol cast in metal; meanwhile the priest remained at the threshold of the gate with the six hundred men equipped for war.
18. These men, having entered Micah's house, took the carved statue, the ephod, the domestic images and the idol cast in metal. The priest, however, said, 'What are you doing?'
19. 'Be quiet,' they replied. 'Put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and become our father and priest. Are you better off as domestic priest to one man, or as priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?'
20. The priest was delighted; he took the ephod, the domestic images and the carved statue, and went off among the people.
21. Resuming their original line of march, they set off, having put the women, children, livestock and baggage out in front.
22. They had gone some distance from Micah's house, when the people living in the houses near Micah's house raised the alarm and set off in pursuit of the Danites.
23. As they shouted after the Danites, the latter, turning about, said to Micah, 'What is the matter with you, that you are shouting like this?'
24. He replied, 'You have taken away my god, which I have had made, and the priest as well. You are going away, and what have I got left? And now you ask me, "What is the matter?" '
25. The Danites said, 'Let us hear no more from you, or quick-tempered men may set about you, and this might cost you your life and the lives of your family!'
26. So the Danites went on their way; and Micah, seeing that they were the stronger, turned and went home.
27. So, having taken the god made by Micah, and the priest who had been his, the Danites marched on Laish, on a peaceful and trusting people. They put it to the sword and they burned down the town.
28. There was no one to come to the rescue, since it was a long way from Sidon and had no contact with the Aramaeans. It lay in the valley running towards Beth-Rehob. They rebuilt the town and settled in it
29. and called it Dan, from the name of Dan their ancestor who had been born to Israel; originally, however, the town had been called Laish.
30. The Danites erected the carved statue for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons after him were priests for the tribe of Dan till the day when the inhabitants of the country were carried away into exile.
31. The carved statue made by Micah they installed for their own use, and there it stayed as long as the house of God remained at Shiloh.