Dan’s Family Captures Laish

At that time Israel did not have a king. And at that time the tribe of Dan was still looking for a land where they could live, a land of their own. The Danites had not yet been given their own land among the tribes of Israel. So, from their family groups, they chose five soldiers from the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out and explore the land. They were told, “Go, explore the land.”

They came to the mountains of Ephraim, to Micah’s house, where they spent the night. When they came near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite.[a] So they stopped there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing here? Why are you here?”

He told them what Micah had done for him, saying, “He hired me. I am his priest.”

They said to him, “Please ask God if our journey will be successful.”

The priest said to them, “Go in peace. The Lord is pleased with your journey.”

So the five men left. When they came to the city of Laish, they saw that the people there lived in safety, like the people of Sidon. They thought they were safe and had plenty of everything. They lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone else.

When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, “What did you find?”

They answered, “We have seen the land, and it is very good. We should attack them. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t wait! Let’s go and take that land! 10 When you go, you will see there is plenty of land—plenty of everything! The people are not expecting an attack. Surely God has handed that land over to us!”

11 So six hundred Danites left Zorah and Eshtaol ready for war. 12 On their way they set up camp near the city of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is named Mahaneh Dan[b] to this day. 13 From there they traveled on to the mountains of Ephraim. Then they came to Micah’s house.

14 The five men who had explored the land around Laish said to their relatives, “Do you know in one of these houses there are a holy vest, household gods, an idol, and a statue? You know what to do.” 15 So they stopped at the Levite’s house, which was also Micah’s house, and greeted the Levite. 16 The six hundred Danites stood at the entrance gate, wearing their weapons of war. 17 The five spies went into the house and took the idol, the holy vest, the household idols, and the statue. The priest and the six hundred men armed for war stood by the entrance gate.

18 When the spies went into Micah’s house and took the image, the holy vest, the household idols, and the statue, the priest asked them, “What are you doing?”

19 They answered, “Be 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 and family group in Israel?” 20 This made the priest happy. So he took the holy vest, the household idols, and the idol and went with the Danites. 21 They left Micah’s house, putting their little children, their animals, and everything they owned in front of them.

22 When they had gone a little way from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah were called out and caught up with them. 23 The men with Micah shouted at the Danites, who turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you? Why have you been called out to fight?”

24 Micah answered, “You took my gods that I made and my priest. What do I have left? How can you ask me, ‘What’s the matter?’”

25 The Danites answered, “You should not argue with us. Some of our angry men might attack you, killing you and your family.” 26 Then the Danites went on their way. Micah knew they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home.

27 Then the Danites took what Micah had made and his priest and went on to Laish. They attacked those peaceful people and killed them with their swords and then burned the city. 28 There was no one to save the people of Laish. They lived too far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone else. Laish was in a valley near Beth Rehob.

The people of Dan rebuilt the city and lived there. 29 They changed the name of Laish to Dan, naming it for their ancestor Dan, one of the sons of Israel.

30 The people of Dan set up the idols in the city of Dan. Jonathan son of Gershom, Moses’ son, and his sons served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the land was captured. 31 The people of Dan set up the idols Micah had made as long as the Holy Tent of God was in Shiloh.


  1. 18:3 Levite The Levites were the only ones God had appointed as priests.
  2. 18:12 Mahaneh Dan This name means “the camp of Dan.”