The taking and establishment of Laish (Judg 18:27-18:31)

“The Danites, having taken what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting. They put them to the sword. They burned down the city. There 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. Then they rebuilt the city. They lived in it. They named the city Dan, after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel. But the name of the city was formerly Laish. Then the Danites set up the idol for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the time the land went into captivity. So they maintained as their own Micah’s idol that he had made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.”

This land of Laish was on the border of the Jordan River in the territory of the tribe of Naphtali. They were too far away from Sidon and the Aram area on the north side. The Danites took and burned the city of Laish. They definitely were in Aramean territory in Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the city, lived in it, and renamed it Dan. They also set up the Micah’s idol for themselves. Now the worship there is complicated. Suddenly, they have a whole Levite clan from Jonathan, grandson of Moses in charge, not a runaway Levite. Micah’s idol had an important role to play in this far northern place of worship. Notice that there is a mention of a worship house at Shiloh, not Jerusalem. Also the writer talked about a time of captivity indicating the time of this writing was after the captivity.

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