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THE IDOL TEMPLE AT DAN, AND ITS PRIEST
Judges xvii: 1, to xviii: 31.
HILE the judges were ruling in Israel, at one time there was
living in the mountains of Ephraim, near the road which
ran north and south, a man named Micah. His mother, who
was dwelling with him, found that some one had stolen
from her a large sum of money. Now, the money had been
taken by her son Micah, and after a time he said to
"Those eleven hundred pieces of silver which you lost,
and of which you spoke, are with me; for I took them
And his mother answered, "May the blessing of God rest
upon you, my son, for bringing again to me my silver.
This money shall be the Lord's. I will give it back to
you, to be used in the service of the Lord."
But instead of taking the money to the Tabernacle of
the Lord at Shiloh, Micah used it to make two images of
silver, one carved and the other cast in metal. These
he set up in his house to be worshipped. He appointed
one of his sons as a priest, and thus made of his house
an idol temple.
One day a man on a journey was passing by Micah's
house. Micah saw from his dress that he belonged to the
tribe of Levi, from which the priests came. He said to
him, "Who are you? From what place do you come?"
The young man said, "I am a Levite, from Bethlehem in
the land of Judah, and I am trying to find a place
where I can earn my living."
"Stay here with me," said Micah, "and be a priest in my
house. I will give you your food, and a place to sleep,
and for each year a suit of clothes and ten pieces of
 The Levite was well pleased at this, and stayed in
Micah's house, and became his priest. And Micah said to
"I am sure that now the Lord will be pleased with me,
since I have a house with gods and a Levite as my
Already many in Israel had forgotten that God would not
bless those who set up idols when they should worship
the Lord God.
The tribe of Dan was living at that time between the
country of the Philistines and the tribe of Benjamin,
having Judah on the south and Ephraim on the north. The
Philistines pressed closely upon them, and they sought
some place where they could live with more room and at
They sent out from their tribe-land five men as spies,
to go through the country and find some better place
for the home of their tribe. These five men walked
through the land, and they came to the house of Micah.
Micah took them into his house, for it was the custom
thus to care for people who were on a journey.
These men from Dan, who were called Danites, had seen
Micah's priest before in his earlier home. They knew
him, and asked him how he came to be there. The young
Levite told them that Micah had hired him to become his
priest. He took them into the temple-room and showed
them the images and the altar, and he offered a
sacrifice and a prayer for them.
Then the five men left Micah's house and went on their
way. They walked through all the tribes in the north;
and far up among the mountains, near one of the great
fountains where the river Jordan begins, they found a
little city called Laish. The people of Laish were not
Israelites, but came from the country of Zidon. The
Danites saw that their little city was far from Zidon,
and that its people were living alone, with none of
their own race to help them.
The men of Dan walked back over the mountains to their
own people, near the Philistine country; and they
brought back an account of their journey through the
land. They said:
"We have found a good place, far up in the north, where
there is room for us, and a rich soil, and plenty of
water. Come with us, and let us take that place for our
A HARVEST FIELD IN THE TIME OF THE JUDGES
So a large part of the tribe of Dan, with their wives
and their children, went up toward this place. Among
them were six hundred men with shields, and swords, and
spears for war. As they
 came near to Micah's house, one of the five men who had
been there before said to them:
"Do you know that in one of these houses there is an
altar, and a carved image, and another image, both of
silver? Now think what you would better do."
Then the five men came again into Micah's temple while
the six hundred soldiers stood outside. They were just
about to carry away the silver images when the Levite
said to them, "What are you doing?"
And the men said to him, "Never mind what we are doing.
Keep still and come with us. Is it not better for you
to be a priest to a whole tribe than to one man?"
Then the young priest said no more. He took away all
the priestly robes, and the silver ornaments, and the
images, and went away with the people of Dan. When
Micah came home he found that his temple had been
robbed and his images and his priest were taken away.
He gathered some of his neighbors, and they hastened
 the people of Dan. When they caught up with them Micah
cried out aloud to them. The men of Dan turned, and
said to Micah:
"What is the matter with you, that you come after us
with a company and make such a noise?"
And Micah answered, "You have taken away my gods which
I made, and my priest; and now what is left to me? And
you say to me, 'What is the matter?' "
Then the men of Dan said, "Be careful what you say, or
you may make some of our men angry, and they will fall
on you, and then you will lose your life!"
Micah saw that the men of Dan were too strong for him
to fight them, so he went back to his house without his
priest and without his images. The Danites went up to
the little city of Laish, in the north. They took it,
and killed all the people who were living there. Then
they built the city again, and changed its name to Dan,
the name of the father of their tribe.
There, at Dan, they built a temple, and in it they set
up the images, and this Levite became their priest. And
the strangest part of all the story is, that this
Levite was a grandson of Moses, the man of God and the
great prophet. So soon did the people of Israel fall
into sin, and so deeply, that the grandson of Moses
became the priest in a temple of idols. And at this
time the house of God was at Shiloh; yet at Dan during
those years and for many years afterward was a temple
of idols, and within its walls a line of priests
descended from Moses were worshipping and offering
sacrifices to images.
And as the temple of idols in Dan was much nearer to
the people in the northern part of the land than was
the house of the Lord, the Tabernacle at Shiloh, very
many of those who lived in the north, went to this
idol-temple to worship. So the people of Israel were
led away from God to serve idols. This was very
displeasing to God.