March 23

Judges 17:1 — 19:30

17 Now there happened to be a man of the mountainous region of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2 In time he said to his mother: “The thousand one hundred silver pieces that were taken from you and over which you pronounced a curse and also said it in my hearing—look! the silver is with me. It was I who took it.” At that his mother said: “Blessed may my son be of Jehovah.” 3 Accordingly he gave back the thousand one hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother went on to say: “I must without fail sanctify the silver to Jehovah from my hand for my son, so as to make a carved image and a molten statue; and now I shall give it back to you.”

4 So he returned the silver to his mother, and his mother took two hundred silver pieces and gave them to the silversmith. And he went making a carved image and a molten statue; and it got to be in Micah’s house. 5 As for the man Micah, he had a house of gods, and he proceeded to make an ephod and teraphim and to fill the hand of one of his sons with power, that he might serve as priest for him. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. As for everybody, what was right in his own eyes he was accustomed to do.

7 Now there happened to be a young man of Bethlehem in Judah of the family of Judah, and he was a Levite. And he was residing there for a time. 8 And the man proceeded to go from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to reside for a time wherever he might find a place. At length while going his way he came into the mountainous region of Ephraim as far as the house of Micah. 9 Then Micah said to him: “Where do you come from?” At that he said to him: “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to reside for a time wherever I may find a place.” 10 So Micah said to him: “Do dwell with me and serve as a father and priest for me, and I, for my part, shall give you ten silver pieces a year and the usual outfit of garments and your sustenance.” Accordingly the Levite went in. 11 Thus the Levite took it upon himself to dwell with the man, and the young man got to be as one of his sons to him. 12 Furthermore, Micah filled the hand of the Levite with power, that the young man might serve as a priest for him and might continue in the house of Micah. 13 Hence Micah said: “Now I do know that Jehovah will do me good, because the Levite has become priest for me.”

18 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was looking for an inheritance for itself to dwell there; because up to that day an inheritance had not fallen to them in the midst of the tribes of Israel.

2 Eventually the sons of Dan sent five men of their family, men from among them, men who were valiant fellows, out from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. So they said to them: “Go, explore the land.” In time they came into the mountainous region of Ephraim as far as the house of Micah and got to spend the night there. 3 While they were close by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite, so that they turned aside there. And they proceeded to say to him: “Who brought you here, and what are you doing in this place, and what interest do you have here?” 4 In turn he said to them: “Thus and so Micah did for me that he might hire me, and that I might serve as priest for him.” 5 Then they said to him: “Inquire, please, of God that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be successful.” 6 So the priest said to them: “Go in peace. It is before Jehovah that YOUR way is in which YOU go.”

7 Accordingly the five men went on and came to Laish and saw how the people that were within it were dwelling in self-reliance according to the custom of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, and there was no oppressive conqueror that was molesting a thing in the land, while they were far off from the Sidonians and they had nothing to do with mankind.

8 At length they came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers began to say to them: “How was it with YOU?” 9 At this they said: “Do get up, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and, look! it is very good. And YOU are hesitant. Do not be sluggish about walking to come in to take possession of the land. 10 When YOU come in, YOU will come to an unsuspecting people, and the land is quite wide; for God has given it into YOUR hand, a place where there is no lack of any sort of thing that is in the earth.”

11 Then six hundred men girded with weapons of war, out of the family of the Danites, departed from there, that is, from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 And they got on their way up and went camping at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. That is why they have called that place Mahaneh-dan down to this day. Look! It is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 After that they passed along from there to the mountainous region of Ephraim and came as far as the house of Micah.

14 Then the five men that had gone to spy out the land of Laish answered and said to their brothers: “Did YOU know that there are in these houses an ephod and teraphim and a carved image and a molten statue? And now have in mind what YOU ought to do.” 15 So they turned aside there and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, at the house of Micah, and began to ask how he was getting along. 16 All the while the six hundred men girded with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, were standing at the entrance of the gate. 17 The five men that had gone to spy out the land now went on up, that they might enter in there to take the carved image and the ephod and the teraphim and the molten image. (And the priest was standing at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men girded with weapons of war.) 18 And these went into the house of Micah and proceeded to take the carved image, the ephod and the teraphim and the molten image. At that the priest said to them: “What are YOU doing?” 19 But they said to him: “Be quiet. Put your hand over your mouth, and go with us and become a father and a priest for us. Which is better, for you to continue a priest to the house of one man or for you to become a priest to a tribe and family in Israel?” 20 At this the heart of the priest was pleased, and he now took the ephod and the teraphim and the carved image and came into the midst of the people.

21 Then they turned and went their way and put the little ones and the livestock and the valuable things ahead of them. 22 They themselves had got a distance away from the house of Micah when the men who were in the houses that were close by the house of Micah were called together and tried to catch up with the sons of Dan. 23 When they kept crying out to the sons of Dan, then they turned their faces and said to Micah: “What is the matter with you that you have been called together?” 24 So he said: “My gods that I made YOU have taken, the priest too, and YOU go YOUR way, and what do I have anymore? How, then, is it that YOU can say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’” 25 At this the sons of Dan said to him: “Do not let your voice be heard close to us, for fear that men bitter of soul may assault YOU people, and you have to forfeit your own soul and the soul of your household.” 26 And the sons of Dan kept going on their way; and Micah got to see that they were stronger than he was, and so he turned and went back to his house.

27 As for them, they took what Micah had made and the priest that had become his, and they kept going toward Laish, against a people quiet and unsuspecting. And they proceeded to strike them with the edge of the sword, and the city they burned with fire. 28 And there was no deliverer, for it was far away from Sidon, and they had nothing at all to do with mankind; and it was in the low plain that belonged to Beth-rehob. Then they built the city and took up dwelling in it. 29 Furthermore, they called the name of the city Dan by the name of their father, Dan, who had been born to Israel. Nevertheless, Laish was the city’s name at first. 30 After that the sons of Dan stood up the carved image for themselves; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, Moses’ son, he and his sons became priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the land’s being taken into exile. 31 And they kept the carved image of Micah, which he had made, set up for themselves all the days that the house of the [true] God continued in Shiloh.

19 Now it happened in those days that there was no king in Israel. And it came about that a certain Levite was residing for a time in the remotest parts of the mountainous region of Ephraim. In time he took as his wife a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 And his concubine began to commit fornication against him. Finally she went away from him to the house of her father at Bethlehem in Judah and continued there fully four months. 3 Then her husband got up and went after her to speak consolingly to her so as to bring her back; and there were with him his attendant and a couple of he-asses. So she had him come into her father’s house. When the father of the young woman got to see him, he at once rejoiced to meet him. 4 Consequently his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, took hold of him, so that he continued to dwell with him three days; and they would eat and drink, and he would stay overnight there.

5 And it came about on the fourth day, when they got up early in the morning as usual, he now rose to go, but the father of the young woman said to his son-in-law: “Sustain your heart with a bit of bread and afterward YOU people may go.” 6 So they sat down, and both of them began to eat and to drink together; after which the father of the young woman said to the man: “Come on, please, and stay overnight, and let your heart feel good.” 7 When the man rose to go, his father-in-law kept begging him, so that he stayed overnight there again.

8 When he got up early in the morning on the fifth day to go, the father of the young woman then said: “Please, take sustenance for your heart.” And they lingered until the fading away of the day. And both of them kept eating. 9 The man now rose to go, he and his concubine and his attendant; but his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, said to him: “Look, now! The day has declined toward becoming evening. Please, STAY overnight. Here the day is settling down. Stay here overnight, and let your heart feel good. And tomorrow YOU people must get up early for YOUR journey, and you must go to your tent.” 10 However, the man did not consent to stay overnight, but he rose and got on his way and came as far as in front of Jebus, that is to say, Jerusalem; and with him there were the couple of he-asses saddled up, and his concubine and his attendant.

11 While they were close by Jebus, as the daylight had gone down considerably, the attendant now said to his master: “O come, now, and let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites and stay in it overnight.” 12 But his master said to him: “Let us not turn aside to a city of foreigners who are no part of the sons of Israel; and we have to pass on as far as Gibeah.” 13 And he went on to say to his attendant: “Come and let us approach one of the places, and we must stay overnight either in Gibeah or in Ramah.” 14 So they passed along and kept on their way, and the sun began to set upon them when near to Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin.

15 Consequently they turned aside there to go in to stay overnight in Gibeah. And they proceeded to go in and sit down in the public square of the city, and there was nobody taking them on into the house to stay overnight. 16 Eventually, look! an old man coming in from his work in the field at evening, and the man was from the mountainous region of Ephraim, and he was residing for a time in Gibeah; but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 When he raised his eyes he got to see the man, the traveler, in the public square of the city. So the old man said: “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18 In turn he said to him: “We are passing along from Bethlehem in Judah to the remotest parts of the mountainous region of Ephraim. That is where I am from, but I went to Bethlehem in Judah; and it is to my own house that I am going, and there is nobody taking me on into the house. 19 And there are both straw and fodder for our he-asses, and there are both bread and wine for me and your slave girl and for the attendant with your servant. There is no lack of a single thing.” 20 However, the old man said: “May you have peace! Just let any lack of yours be upon me. Only do not stay overnight in the public square.” 21 With that he brought him into his house and threw mash to the he-asses. Then they washed their feet and began to eat and drink.

22 While they were making their hearts feel good, look! the men of the city, mere good-for-nothing men, surrounded the house, shoving one another against the door; and they kept saying to the old man, the owner of the house: “Bring out the man that came into your house, that we may have intercourse with him.” 23 At that the owner of the house went on out to them and said to them: “No, my brothers, do not do anything wrong, please, since this man has come into my house. Do not commit this disgraceful folly. 24 Here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out, please, and YOU rape them and do to them what is good in YOUR eyes. But to this man YOU must not do this disgraceful, foolish thing.”

25 And the men did not want to listen to him. Hence the man took hold of his concubine and brought her forth to them outside; and they began to have intercourse with her, and kept on abusing her all night long until the morning, after which they sent her off at the ascending of the dawn. 26 Then the woman came as it was turning to morning, and fell down at the entrance of the man’s house where her master was,—until daylight. 27 Later her master rose up in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to get on his way, and, look! the woman, his concubine, fallen at the entrance of the house with her hands upon the threshold! 28 So he said to her: “Rise up, and let us go.” But there was no one answering. At that the man took her upon the ass and rose up and went to his place.

29 Then he entered his house and took the slaughtering knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her up according to her bones into twelve pieces and sent her into every territory of Israel. 30 And it occurred that everybody seeing it said: “Such a thing as this has never been brought about or been seen from the day that the sons of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt down to this day. Set YOUR hearts upon it, take counsel and speak.”