1. A son of Jacob by Bilhah, Ge 30:3; 35:25. The tribe of Dan was second only to that of Judah in numbers before entering Canaan, Nu 1:39; 26:43. A portion was assigned to Dan, extending southeast from the seacoast near Joppa. It bordered on the land of the Philistines, with whom the tribe of Dan had much to do, Jg 13-16. Their territory was fertile, but small, and the natives were powerful. A part of the tribe therefore sought and conquered another home, Jos 19; Jg 18.
2. A city originally called Laish, Jg 18:29, at the northern extremity of Israel, in the tribe of Naphtali. "From Dan to Beersheba" denotes the whole extent of the land of promise, Dan being the northern city, and Beersheba the southern one. Dan was seated at the foot of Mount Hermon, four miles west of Paneas, near one source of the Jordan, on a hill now called Tell-el-Kady. Laish at one time belonged to Zidon, and received the name of Dan from a portion of that tribe who conquered and rebuilt it, Jg 18. It was an idolatrous city even then, and was afterwards the seat of one of the golden calves of Jeroboam, 1Ki 12:28; Am 8:14. Though once and again a very prosperous city, Jg 18:10; Eze 27:19, only slight remains of it now exist.
a judge. (1.) The fifth son of Jacob. His mother was Bilhah, Rachel's maid (Ge 30:6, "God hath judged me", Heb. dananni). The blessing pronounced on him by his father was, "Dan shall judge his people" (Ge 49:16), probably in allusion to the judgeship of Samson, who was of the tribe of Dan.
The tribe of Dan had their place in the march through the wilderness on the north side of the tabernacle (Nu 2:25,31; 10:25). It was the last of the tribes to receive a portion in the Land of Promise. Its position and extent are described in Jos 19:40-48.
The territory of Dan extended from the west of that of Ephraim and Benjamin to the sea. It was a small territory, but was very fertile. It included in it, among others, the cities of Lydda, Ekron, and Joppa, which formed its northern boundary. But this district was too limited. "Squeezed into the narrow strip between the mountains and the sea, its energies were great beyond its numbers." Being pressed by the Amorites and the Philistines, whom they were unable to conquer, they longed for a wider space. They accordingly sent out five spies from two of their towns, who went north to the sources of the Jordan, and brought back a favourable report regarding that region. "Arise," they said, "be not slothful to go, and to possess the land," for it is "a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth" (Jg 18:10). On receiving this report, 600 Danites girded on their weapons of war, and taking with them their wives and their children, marched to the foot of Hermon, and fought against Leshem, and took it from the Sidonians, and dwelt therein, and changed the name of the conquered town to Dan (Jos 19:47). This new city of Dan became to them a new home, and was wont to be spoken of as the northern limit of Palestine, the length of which came to be denoted by the expression "from Dan to Beersheba", i.e., about 144 miles.
Illustration: Territory of Dan
But like Lot under a similar temptation, they seem to have succumbed to the evil influences around them, and to have sunk down into a condition of semi-heathenism from which they never emerged. The mounds of ruins which mark the site of the city show that it covered a considerable extent of ground. But there remains no record of any noble deed wrought by the degenerate tribe. Their name disappears from the roll-book of the natural and the spiritual Israel., Manning's Those Holy Fields.
This old border city was originally called Laish. Its modern name is Tell el-Kady, "Hill of the Judge." It stands about four miles below Caesarea Philippi, in the midst of a region of surpassing richness and beauty.
(2.) This name occurs in Eze 27:19, Authorize Version; but the words there, "Dan also," should be simply, as in the Revised Version, "Vedan," an Arabian city, from which various kinds of merchandise were brought to Tyre. Some suppose it to have been the city of Aden in Arabia. (See Mahaneh-dan.)
According to the popular tradition, Dan was the fifth son of Jacob, and full brother of Naphtali, by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid (Ge 30:6,8). Rachel, who had no children, exclaimed 'dananni' ('God hath judged me'), and, therefore, he was called Dan. As in the case of so many names, this is clearly a 'popular etymology.' It is probable that Dan was an appellative, or titular attribute, of some deity whose name has not come down to us in connexion with it, or it may even be the name of a god as Gad was (cf. the Assyrian proper names Ashur-d
Fifth son of Jacob, and first of Bilhah, Rachel's maid. Ge 30:6, etc. Little is recorded of him personally: only one son is mentioned in Ge 46:23. The tribe of Dan was, however, numerous: at the Exodus there were 62,700 fighting men, exceeding all the tribes except Judah; and at the second numbering they had increased to 64,400. Nu 1:39; 26:42-43. Yet when in the land the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley. Jg 1:34. This showed great want of faith in the DANITES (as they are called in Jg 13:2; 18:1,11; 1Ch 12:35); and Deborah in her song said, 'Why did Dan remain in ships,' when the Lord's enemies were being destroyed?
Their portion fell on the sea-coast between those of Manasseh and Judah. It was small in comparison with their numbers, which occasioned some going north and building the city of Dan, q.v. Dan was not conspicuous among the tribes, but Aholiab, who helped Bezaleel in the work of the tabernacle, was of the tribe, Ex 31:6; and Samson also.
When Jacob blessed his sons he said, "Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward." Ge 49:16-17. This tribe was guilty of setting up very early in the land the idolatry, which continued until the people were carried into captivity. Jg 18:30-31. One naturally associates 'the adder that biteth the heels' with the serpent that would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. Ge 3:15. It seems to suggest that the Antichrist will arise out of the tribe of Dan, and this indeed has been the judgement of Christians from the earliest times. Moses said, "Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan," De 33:22, which may be a prophecy that Dan would do the work of Satan: cf. Ps 22:12-13. This thought is confirmed by Dan's name being absent from 1 Chr. 2 - 8 (the book that records much of grace and blessing), and being omitted also from the list of tribes from each of which twelve thousand will be sealed in a future day. Re 7:3-8. Still God's promises to the twelve tribes will be kept, and the tribe of Dan will have its portion in the land as prophesied in Eze 48:1-2,32.
1. The fifth son of Jacob, and the first of Bilhah, Rachel's maid.
(B.C. after 1753.) The origin of the name is given in the exclamation of Rachel. The records of Dan are unusually meagre. Only one son is attributed to him,
but his tribe was, with the exception of Judah, the most numerous of all. In the division of the promised land Dan was the last of the tribes to receive his portion, which was the smallest of the twelve.
But notwithstanding its smallness it had eminent natural advantages. On the north and east it was completely embraced by its two brother tribes Ephraim and Benjamin, while on the southeast and south it joined Judah, and was thus surrounded by the three most powerful states of the whole confederacy. It was a rich and fertile district; but the Amorites soon "forced them into the mountain,"
and they had another portion granted them. Judges 18. In the "security" and "quiet,"
of their rich northern possession the Danites enjoyed the leisure and repose which had been denied them in their original seat. In the time of David Dan still kept its place among the tribes.
Asher is omitted, but the "prince of the tribe of Dan" is mentioned in the list of
But from this time forward the name as applied to the tribe vanishes; it is kept alive only by the northern city. In the genealogies of 1Chr 2-12, Dan is omitted entirely. Lastly, Dan is omitted from the list of those who were sealed by the angel in the vision of St. John.
2. The well-known city, so familiar as the most northern landmark of Palestine, in the common expression "from Dan even to beersheba." The name of the place was originally LAISH or LESHEM.
After the establishment of the Danites at Dan it became the acknowledged extremity of the country. It is now Tell el-Kadi, a mound, three miles from Banias, from the foot of which gushes out one of the largest fountains in the world, the main source of the Jordan.
DAN, the fifth son of Jacob, Ge 30:1-6. Dan had but one son, whose name was Hushim, Ge 46:23; yet he had a numerous posterity; for, on leaving Egypt, this tribe consisted of sixty-two thousand seven hundred men able to bear arms, Nu 1:38. Of Jacob's blessing Dan, see Ge 49:16-17. They took Laish, Jg 18:1;
Jos 19:47. Whey called the city Dan, after their progenitor. The city of Dan was situated at the northern extremity of the land of Israel: hence the phrase, "from Dan to Beersheba," denoting the whole length of the land of promise. Here Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, set up one of his golden calves, 1Ki 12:29; and the other at Bethel.