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Judges Chapter 18 | Parsha:

1In those days there was no king in Israel, and in those days the tribe of Dan was seeking a territory in which to settle; for to that day no territory had fallen to their lot among the tribes of Israel. 2The Danites sent out five of their number, from their clan seat at Zorah and Eshtaol—valiant men—to spy out the land and explore it. “Go,” they told them, “and explore the land.” When they had advanced into the hill country of Ephraim as far as the house of Micah, they stopped there for the night. 3While in the vicinity of Micah’s house, they recognized the speech of the young Levite, so they went over and asked him, “Who brought you to these parts? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 4He replied, “Thus and thus Micah did for me—he hired me and I became his priest.” 5They said to him, “Please, inquire of God; we would like to know if the mission on which we are going will be successful.” 6“Go in peace,” the priest said to them, “the Lord views with favor the mission you are going on.” 7The five men went on and came to Laish. They observed the people in it dwelling carefree, after the manner of the Sidonians, a tranquil and unsuspecting people, with no one in the land to molest them and with no hereditary ruler. Moreover, they were distant from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anybody.

8When [the men] came back to their kinsmen at Zorah and Eshtaol, their kinsmen asked them, “How did you fare?” 9They replied, “Let us go at once and attack them! For we found that the land was very good, and you are sitting idle! Don’t delay; go and invade the land and take possession of it, 10for God has delivered it into your hand. When you come, you will come to an unsuspecting people; and the land is spacious and nothing on earth is lacking there.”

11They departed from there, from the clan seat of the Danites, from Zorah and Eshtaol, six hundred strong, girt with weapons of war. 12They went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. That is why that place is called “the Camp of Dan” to this day; it lies west of Kiriath-jearim. 13From there they passed on to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at the house of Micah. 14Here the five men who had gone to spy out the Laish region remarked to their kinsmen, “Do you know, there is an ephod in these houses, and teraphim, and a sculptured image and a molten image? Now you know what you have to do.” 15So they turned off there and entered the home of the young Levite at Micah’s house and greeted him. 16The six hundred Danite men, girt with their weapons of war, stood at the entrance of the gate, 17while the five men who had gone to spy out the land went inside and took the sculptured image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image. The priest was standing at the entrance of the gate, and the six hundred men girt with their weapons of war, 18while those men entered Micah’s house and took the sculptured image, the molten image, the ephod, and the household gods. The priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19But they said to him, “Be quiet; put your hand on your mouth! Come with us and be our father and priest. Would you rather be priest to one man’s household or be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20The priest was delighted. He took the ephod, the household gods, and the sculptured image, and he joined the people.

21They set out again, placing the children, the cattle, and their household goods in front. 22They had already gone some distance from Micah’s house, when the men in the houses near Micah’s mustered and caught up with the Danites. 23They called out to the Danites, who turned around and said to Micah, “What’s the matter? Why have you mustered?” 24He said, “You have taken my priest and the gods that I made, and walked off! What do I have left? How can you ask, ‘What’s the matter’?” 25But the Danites replied, “Don’t do any shouting at us, or some desperate men might attack you, and you and your family would lose your lives.” 26So Micah, realizing that they were stronger than he, turned back and went home; and the Danites went on their way, 27taking the things Micah had made and the priest he had acquired. They proceeded to Laish, a people tranquil and unsuspecting, and they put them to the sword and burned down the town. 28There was none to come to the rescue, for it was distant from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone; it lay in the valley of Beth-rehob.
They rebuilt the town and settled there,
29and they named the town Dan, after their ancestor Dan who was Israel’s son. Originally, however, the name of the town was Laish. 30The Danites set up the sculptured image for themselves; and Jonathan son of Gershom son of Manasseh, and his descendants, served as priests to the Danite tribe until the land went into exile. 31They maintained the sculptured image that Micah had made throughout the time that the House of God stood at Shiloh.

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