Spread of Idolatry

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what seemed right in his own eyes.

Micah, an Ephraimite, confessed to his mother that he had stolen eleven hundred shekels from her. She told him she had consecrated the silver for a graven image and a molten image. She now gave the silver to a founder who turned it into the idols. These were placed in Micah's house. At first he made one of his sons priest at this domestic shrine, but when a young Levite named Jonathan, who was wandering about homeless and aimless, passed his house, Micah secured his services for a small allowance — ten shekels of silver and a suit of apparel annually, besides his food, and exclaimed with a glow of satisfaction: "Now I know that the L-rd will do me good, seeing that I have a Levite to be my priest;"

The tribe of Dan had not yet been able to settle on its territory. On their way, some Danite scouts came to the house of Micah, where they learned of the presence of the image and the priest. They requested him to consult the Divine oracle in their behalf; the answer was entirely encouraging.

The words of the Levite proved true; the men went on to Laish, saw that the town was easy of conquest, and the surrounding country rich and beautiful, and returned to their tribe with a most favorable report. Six hundred Danites marched out to take possession of the explored territory. On their way, they passed by the house of Micah, and there they seized the images and statues, and persuaded the Levite to accompany them to their homes and be their priest. Instead of ministering to one person, Jonathan the Levite would now be priest to an entire tribe. The Danites surprised the people of Laish and conquered the city. They rebuilt it and called it Dan. There they set up the image.

The tribe of Dan was victorious, but suffered a tremendous spiritual downfall, for it seemed to the Danites that the image and the prophecy of the false priest had helped them to win the battle. This belief encouraged idol-worship among the tribe of Dan, many of whom began going to the temple in Dan, where Micah's graven image had been set up, and no longer went to the house of G‑d in Shiloh.