Saturday, May 19, 2018
This bit tidies up the historical fact that Dan was associated with more than one region, and not so successful in the ‘conquest’ model. Scouting out new territory may seem morally neutral to us, in a time of high mobility, when homes are treated as commodities – but readers will make many things of the same action.
The scouts take advice and assurance from Micah’s renegade Levite, find a settled, complacent target that haven’t heard from Sidon or Aram that the tribes are still expansionist. They conscript Micah’s Levite and idol, and like the band of thugs they are, threaten Micah to shut up about it.
Is the priest entrepreneurial, or faithless? Where is your sympathy – should he stick with the little village of Micah, or the tribe of Dan? We, and each of our families, make choices – upward mobility, ambition – should priests be different?
What authority arbitrates these moral choices? Rules, laws, or kings, or military might or greed? The text may be neutral, but we aren’t.
In those days
there was no king in Israel.
And in those days
the tribe of the Danites
was seeking for itself
a territory to live in;
for until then
no territory among the tribes of Israel
had been allotted to them.
2So the Danites sent five valiant men
from the whole number of their clan,
from Zorah and from Eshtaol,
to spy out the land
and to explore it;
and they said to them, ‘
Go, explore the land.’
When they came to the hill country of Ephraim,
to the house of Micah,
they stayed there.
3While they were at Micah’s house,
they recognized the voice of the young Levite;
so they went over and asked him,
‘Who brought you here?
What are you doing in this place?
What is your business here?’
4He said to them,
‘Micah did such and such for me,
and he hired me,
and I have become his priest.’
5Then they said to him,
‘Inquire of God
that we may know
whether the mission we are undertaking will succeed.’
6The priest replied,
‘Go in peace.
The mission you are on
is under the eye of the LORD.’
7 The five men went on,
and when they came to Laish,
they observed the people
who were there living securely,
after the manner of the Sidonians,
quiet and unsuspecting,
lacking nothing on earth,
and possessing wealth.
they were far from the Sidonians
and had no dealings with Aram.
8When they came to their kinsfolk
at Zorah and Eshtaol,
they said to them,
‘What do you report?’
let us go up against them;
for we have seen the land,
and it is very good.
Will you do nothing?
Do not be slow to go,
but enter in and possess the land.
10When you go,
you will come to an unsuspecting people.
The land is broad
—God has indeed given it into your hands—
a place where there is no lack
of anything on earth.’
11 Six hundred men of the Danite clan,
armed with weapons of war,
set out from Zorah and Eshtaol,
12and went up
and encamped at Kiriath-jearim
On this account
that place is called Mahaneh-dan
to this day;
it is west of Kiriath-jearim.
13From there they passed on
to the hill country of Ephraim,
and came to the house of Micah.
14 Then the five men who had gone
to spy out the land
(that is, Laish)
said to their comrades,
‘Do you know
that in these buildings
there are an ephod, teraphim,
and an idol of cast metal?
consider what you will do.’
15So they turned in that direction
and came to the house
of the young Levite,
at the home of Micah,
and greeted him.
16While the six hundred men of the Danites,
armed with their weapons of war,
stood by the entrance of the gate,
17the five men who had gone to spy out the land
proceeded to enter
and take the idol of cast metal,
the ephod, and the teraphim.
The priest was standing by the entrance of the gate
with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.
18When the men went into Micah’s house
and took the idol of cast metal,
the ephod, and the teraphim,
the priest said to them,
‘What are you doing?’
19They said to him,
Put your hand over your mouth,
and come with us,
and be to us a father and a priest.
Is it better for you
to be priest to the house of one person,
or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?’
20Then the priest accepted the offer.
He took the ephod,
and the idol,
and went along with the people.
21 So they resumed their journey,
putting the little ones,
and the goods
in front of them.
22When they were some distance
from the home of Micah,
the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house
were called out, and they overtook the Danites.
23They shouted to the Danites,
who turned around and said to Micah,
‘What is the matter
that you come with such a company?’
‘You take my gods that I made,
and the priest,
and go away,
and what have I left?
How then can you ask me,
“What is the matter?” ’
25And the Danites said to him,
‘You had better not let your voice be heard among us
or else hot-tempered fellows will attack you,
and you will lose your life
and the lives of your household.’
26Then the Danites went on their way.
When Micah saw
that they were too strong for him,
he turned and went back to his home.
27 The Danites,
having taken what Micah had made,
and the priest who belonged to him,
came to Laish,
to a people quiet and unsuspecting,
put them to the sword,
and burned down the city.
28There was no deliverer,
because it was far from Sidon
and they had no dealings with Aram.
It was in the valley
that belongs to Beth-rehob.
They rebuilt the city,
and lived in it.
29They named the city Dan,
after their ancestor Dan,
who was born to Israel;
but the name of the city
was formerly Laish.
30Then the Danites set up the idol for themselves.
son of Gershom,
son of Moses,
and his sons
to the tribe
of the Danites
until the time
the land went into captivity.
31So they maintained as their own
Micah’s idol that he had made,
as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.