1There was no king in Israel at that time. In those days the tribe of Dan was looking for territory to claim and occupy because they had not yet received any land of their own among the tribes of Israel. 2So the people of Dan chose five qualified men out of all the families in the tribe and sent them from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol with instructions to explore the land. When they arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they stayed at Micah's house. 3While they were there, they recognized the accent of the young Levite, so they went up to him and asked, “What are you doing here? Who brought you here?”
4He answered, “I have an arrangement with Micah, who pays me to serve as his priest.”
5They said to him, “Please ask God if we are going to be successful on our journey.”
6The priest answered, “You have nothing to worry about. The LORD is taking care of you on this journey.”
7So the five men left and went to the town of Laish. They saw how safely the people there were living, like the Sidonians. They were a peaceful, quiet people, with no disputes with anyone; they had all they needed. They lived far away from the Sidonians and had no dealings with any other people. 8When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their countrymen asked them what they had found out. 9“Come on,” they replied. “Let's attack Laish. We saw the land, and it's very good. Don't stay here doing nothing; hurry! Go on in and take it over! 10When you get there, you will find that the people don't suspect a thing. It is a big country; it has everything a person could want, and God has given it to you.”
11So 600 men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol, ready for battle. 12They went up and made camp west of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still called Camp of Dan. 13They went on from there and came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim.
14Then the five men who had gone to explore the country round Laish said to their companions, “Did you know that here in one of these houses there is a wooden idol covered with silver? There are also other idols and an ephod. What do you think we should do?” 15So they went into Micah's house, where the young Levite lived, and asked the Levite how he was getting on. 16Meanwhile the 600 soldiers from Dan, ready for battle, were standing at the gate. 17The five spies went straight on into the house and took the wooden idol covered with silver, the other idols, and the ephod, while the priest stayed at the gate with the 600 armed men.
18When the men went into Micah's house and took the sacred objects, the priest asked them, “What are you doing?”
19They said, “Keep quiet. Don't say a word. Come with us and be our priest and adviser. Wouldn't you rather be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for the family of one man?” 20This made the priest very happy, so he took the sacred objects and went along with them.
21They turned round and started off, with their children, their livestock, and their belongings going ahead. 22They had travelled a good distance from the house when Micah called his neighbours out for battle. They caught up with the men from Dan 23and shouted at them. The men from Dan turned round and asked Micah, “What's the matter? Why all this mob?”
24Micah answered, “What do you mean, ‘What's the matter?’ You take my priest and the gods that I made, and walk off! What have I got left?”
25The men from Dan said, “You had better not say anything else unless you want these men to get angry and attack you. Then you and your whole family would die.” 26Then they went on. Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home.
29They changed its name from Laish to Dan, after their ancestor Dan, the son of Jacob. 30The men from Dan set up the idol to be worshipped, and Jonathan, the son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, served as a priest for the tribe of Dan, and his descendants served as their priests until the people were taken away into exile. 31Micah's idol remained there all the time that the Tent where God was worshipped remained at Shiloh.
The Levite and his Concubine
1In those days, before Israel had a king, there was a Levite living far back in the hill country of Ephraim. He took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine, 2but she became angry with him, went back to her father's house in Bethlehem, and stayed there four months. 3Then the man decided to go after her and try to persuade her to return to him. He took his servant and two donkeys with him. The woman showed the Levite into the house, and when her father saw him, he gave him a warm welcome. 4The father insisted that he stay, and so he stayed for three days. The couple had their meals and spent the nights there. 5On the morning of the fourth day they woke up early and got ready to go. But the woman's father said to the Levite, “Have something to eat first. It will do you good. You can go later.”
6So the two men sat down and ate and drank together. Then the woman's father said to him, “Please spend the night here and enjoy yourself.”
7The Levite got up to go, but the father urged him to stay, so he spent another night there. 8Early in the morning of the fifth day he started to leave, but the woman's father said, “Eat something, please. Wait until later in the day.” So the two men ate together.
9When the man, his concubine, and the servant once more started to leave, the father said, “Look, it's almost evening now; you might as well stay all night. It will be dark soon; stay here and have a good time. Tomorrow you can get up early for your journey and go home.”
14So they went past Jebus and continued on their way. It was sunset when they came to Gibeah in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. 15They turned off the road to go and spend the night there. They went into the city and sat down in the square, but no one offered to take them home for the night.
16While they were there, an old man came by at the end of a day's work in the fields. He was originally from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was now living in Gibeah. (The other people there were from the tribe of Benjamin.) 17The old man noticed the traveller in the city square and asked him, “Where do you come from? Where are you going?”
18The Levite answered, “We have been to Bethlehem in Judah, and now we are on our way home deep in the hill country of Ephraim. No one will put us up for the night, 19even though we have fodder and straw for our donkeys, as well as bread and wine for my concubine and me and for my servant. We have everything we need.”
20The old man said, “You are welcome in my home! I'll take care of you; you don't have to spend the night in the square.” 21So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. His guests washed their feet and had a meal.
22They were enjoying themselves when all of a sudden some sexual perverts from the town surrounded the house and started beating on the door. They said to the old man, “Bring out that man that came home with you! We want to have sex with him!”
23But the old man went outside and said to them, “No, my friends! Please! Don't do such an evil, immoral thing! This man is my guest. 24Look! Here is his concubine and my own daughter, who is a virgin. I'll bring them out now, and you can have them. Do with them whatever you want. But don't do such an awful thing to this man!” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and put her outside with them. They raped her and abused her all night long and didn't stop until morning.
26At dawn the woman came and fell down at the door of the old man's house, where her husband was. She was still there when daylight came. 27Her husband got up that morning, and when he opened the door to go on his way, he found his concubine lying in front of the house with her hands reaching for the door. 28He said, “Get up. Let's go.” But there was no answer. So he put her body across the donkey and started on his way home. 29When he arrived, he went into the house and got a knife. He took his concubine's body, cut it into twelve pieces, and sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 30Everyone who saw it said, “We have never heard of such a thing! Nothing like this has ever happened since the Israelites left Egypt! We have to do something about this! What will it be?”