The Gift: Laish and the Silo Effect

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Sam here, with Chapter 1 of The Gift, by Lewis Hyde. I’ve wanted to talk about this chapter for three weeks but didn’t want to rush past other goodies. If you’re just joining the conversation, you can read about those here. Today I’ll tell you about an obscure Bible story and then ask a few questions. During the period of the Judges, the tribe of Dan sent five men

to spy out the land and explore it…. So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else…. Then six hundred men from the clan of the Danites…went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else (Judges 18:7, 11, 27-28).

This story demonstrates the consequences of limited gifting. Laish lived independently of others. They gifted to themselves, creating what Hyde refers to as an “ego-of-one.” The business world is all abuzz about something similar called the silo effect. The silo effect is “a lack of communication and common goals between departments in an organization” (Wikipedia). Think farm silos: narrow, vertical, window-less. If you’re in one, it’s the only world you know. Laish was a silo of a town.

1. What gifts - given or received - might have assisted Laish?

2. Are there areas of your life where you are like Laish?

3. Do you see other connections between this story and Chapter 1 of The Gift?

Post written by Sam Van Eman.