The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Judges
These were days when no king yet ruled in Israel. And the men of Dan were still trying to find a home to live in; the portion allotted to them among the other tribes had not yet fallen into their hands.
So, from their quarters at Saraa and Esthaol, they sent out five champions of theirs to make a careful survey of the land. Setting out with these orders, they reached the hill-country of Ephraim, and there found a lodging at Michas’ house.
Here, among strangers, they recognized the tones of the young Levite’s voice; Why, they said, who persuaded thee to come into these parts? What errand brought thee here?
So he told them what Michas had promised to do for him, and what payment was made him for living there as priest of the shrine.
They asked him, too, to consult the Lord, and tell them whether their journey should prosper, and its end be achieved;
Go on undismayed, said he, the Lord looks favourably on your journey, and its errand.
So these men went on their way, and when they reached Lais, they found a city where men dwelt free from all alarms. This was the way of the Sidonian folk, to live tranquilly and at ease; no civil power restrained them, and they had great wealth. Lais, too, was at a distance from Sidon, and remote from all the world.
So, when they came home, and their fellow-tribesmen at Saraa and Esthaol asked them how they had sped, they answered,
Up, friends, to the attack! We have found lands both rich and fertile; we must not miss our opportunity by dallying here. March in and take possession; the task is light.
We can fall on them unawares, and the Lord will make us masters of their territory, broad lands, with no lack of anything earth yields.
So six hundred men of Dan, from Saraa and Esthaol, marched out fully armed,
and made their first halt at Cariathiarim, in Juda, on the spot which has been called the Camp of Dan ever since, just west of Cariathiarim.
Thence they made their way into the hill-country of Ephraim; and when they reached the house of Michas,
the five men who had been sent on the mission to Lais said to their fellow-tribesmen, Do you know what we found in that house? A sacred mantle, and household deities, and a carved image with a sheath of metal. Look well to it what course you will take.
So they turned aside a little to visit the lodging of the young Levite that was priest in Michas’ household, and gave him friendly greeting.
Six hundred armed men stood at the door,
while those who had made their way into the young man’s lodging set about carrying off carved image, and mantle, and household deities, and metal sheath all together; and all the while the priest was in the doorway, with six hundred fighting men close by.
As they brought out these treasures one after another, the priest asked them what they would be at,
but they bade him keep his lips tight shut, and come with them. We will honour thee, they said, as father and priest. Wouldst thou rather be priest to one man’s household than to a whole tribe, a whole clan of Israel?
For the Levite, it was pleasant hearing enough; he took up mantle and household deities and image, and went off in their company.
So on they went, with children and pack animals and stores travelling in front,
and were a long way from Michas’ house when they heard his men coming up behind them with a great hue and cry,
calling on them to halt. At that, they looked round and asked Michas what ailed him, what all the shouting meant.
You have robbed me, he answered, robbed me of the gods I made for myself, of my own priest, of all that I had, and you ask what ails me!
It were well, the children of Dan said, that we should hear no more of thy complaints. There might be some hot-heads among us would turn back to meet thee, and thou and thine would rue it!
With that, they went on their way, and Michas, who saw they were too strong for him, must betake himself home.
Taking the priest, then, with them, and the rest of their plunder aforesaid, the six hundred men reached Lais. There they found all the citizens living at ease, free from alarms, and they put them to the sword, burning down their city.
There was none to bring aid; they were far from Sidon, and with all the rest of the world fellowship and commerce they had none. It was in Rohob their city lay, and the men of Dan rebuilt it to make their home in it,
calling it Dan, after their ancestor that was Israel’s son, and Lais no longer.
And there they set up the image; the tribe of Dan had its own priests down to the day when it went into exile, descended from Moses’ son Gersam, and his son Jonathan.
All the time God’s house was at Silo, there in Dan stood Michas’ image. So it was in the old days, before a king ruled in Israel.
The Holy Bible