In Judges 18-19, Dan searches for a piece of land to inhabit. They send out spies to Laish. It says that the inhabitants of Laish were prosperous. It seems that the inhabitants of Laish were peaceful, so why did the tribe of Dan attack and kill them to inhabit the land?

I spoke to someone about this and he told me that Dan was having a lot of trouble with the Philistines in their land so they had to leave and find elsewhere to reside, but that doesn’t answer my question.

Also, if Shimshon (Samsun, from the tribe of Dan) hadn’t followed his eyes and gotten himself killed, would he have been around at that time to protect the tribe of Dan and fight against the Philistines, to inhabit their original land?

  • 6
    I think that the last paragraph would be better split off and asked as a separate question, but that's just my personal opinion.
    – TRiG
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


If you read the commentators, like Rashi on those verses, you will learn that the reason the inhabitants of Laish were peaceful is because they were isolated and there was nobody around to bother them.

It follows that once the tribe of Dan arrived to be neighbours, they would defend themselves and their territory. So it was more efficient to surprise them and wipe them out.

As to your second question, Rashi (ibid 17:3) already taught us that הרבה שנים קדם מיכה לשמשון the conquest of the tribe of Dan happened many years before Shimshon was born.

  • Who's opinion is this? What is the source, i would like to look it up? Because as far as i know, the whole thing started off on the wrong foot. Mica's levi being disloyal, the stealing of Micahs idols, the threat of violence when Micah trys to stop them even after having shown them hospitality... Etc... Why ahould the battle of Laish have been any different? Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 14:26
  • Huh? The incident with Micha's idol was almost incidental to their conquest of Laish; they happened to overnight by Micha on their initial "spy" mission, and happened to recognise the "Cohen"/Levi. Commented May 3, 2015 at 9:09
  • The source would be the Malbim, which I cannot find online, so it may take a few days to find an exact quote.but it's an explicit verse (18:7) וַיָּבֹאוּ לָיְשָׁה וַיִּרְאוּ אֶת הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבָּהּ יוֹשֶׁבֶת לָבֶטַח כְּמִשְׁפַּט צִדֹנִים שֹׁקֵט וּבֹטֵחַ וְאֵין מַכְלִים דָּבָר בָּאָרֶץ יוֹרֵשׁ עֶצֶר וּרְחֹקִים הֵמָּה מִצִּדֹנִים וְדָבָר אֵין לָהֶם עִם אָדָם - they lived in peace as they were far from the nearest big city and they had nothing to do with with other people. Commented May 3, 2015 at 9:13
  • But does that give the people of Dan the right to kill the inhabitants of Laish? Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:44
  • @JoshuaPearl - we were not discussing the "right to kill", but since you asked, the Jews were given a Mitzva to kill off all the 7 nations inhabiting the land. So that gave them the right to do so. Commented May 31, 2015 at 8:17

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