Judges 18

The Migration of Dan

Zorah and Eshtaol

The people of Dan sent . . . valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol (Judges 18:2).

Zorah and Eshtaol were located in Danite territory on its southern edge, next to Judah. The two sites are only about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) apart. Zorah was also the hometown of Samson, although Samson lived at the end of the Judges period and the Danite migration may have taken place before his time. Zorah can be seen near the center of this photo, in the clear spot among the trees. Eshtaol is a little ways off the right side of the image.

Israelite Houses

And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there (Judges 18:2).

This modern reconstruction of an Israelite four-room house illustrates the approximate size and configuration, along with what a second floor may have looked like. The common existence of a second floor is suggested by the thickness of the walls of these houses.


They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim (Judges 18:12).

The name Mahaneh-dan means “camp of Dan.” West of Kiriath-jearim is the modern community of Yad HaShmonah. This village is a thriving community composed of Israeli and Finnish believers in Jesus the Messiah. The hill is 0.6 miles (1 km) away from biblical Kiriath-jearim and must be close to the Camp of Dan mentioned in this verse.

Tel Dan

They came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword (Judges 18:27).

Tel Dan (the site of Laish) is located in the northern reaches of the Huleh Valley, north of the Sea of Galilee. The immediate vicinity is flat and fertile. After the Danites conquered the city, the site of Dan came to mark the northern limit of Israel in many biblical passages. The phrase “from Dan to Beersheba” is a common phrase in the Old Testament (e.g., Judg 20:1 and 1 Sam 3:20), intended to encompass the entire land of Israel.


There was no one to deliver them, because it was far from Sidon (Judges 18:28).

Sidon was a wealthy and powerful Phoenician city located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The distance from Laish/Dan to Sidon was about 27 miles (43 km) as the crow flies, and further as one would have to travel on the ground. Laish evidently relied on Sidon for protection and had no other allies in the region, leaving them vulnerable. This photograph is of the Sea Castle at Sidon.

Cult Worship at Dan

And the people of Dan set up for themselves the graven image (Judges 18:30).

The area pictured here is the cult center at Dan. The earliest evidence found dates to the 10th century, during the reign of Jeroboam I. It is not known where the first Israelite inhabitants set up their cult center, but it was likely an ancestor of this one in one way or another. A major point of this account in Judges is to explain the origin of the idolatrous Israelite worship that lasted for many centuries.

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