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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Dan (1)

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("judge".) Jacob's fourth son, Bilhah's (maid of Rachel) first (Genesis 30:6), own brother to Naphtali. The female corresponding name is Dinah ("judgment".) Rachel's exclamation originated the name, "God hath judged me," i.e. vindicated my cause by giving me a son. Jacob on his deathbed said, "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel" (Genesis 49:16), i.e., having the full tribal standing as much as Leah's descendants. (See CONCUBINE.) The judgeship of Samson may also be a fulfillment of Jacob's words (Judges 15:20). Hushim (the plural implying a family) or Shuham alone is mentioned as Dan's son (Genesis 46:23); but at the Exodus the tribe stood second of Israel in numbers (Numbers 1:39), Numbers 1:62,700; 64,400 at the close of the wilderness sojourn (Numbers 26:43).

It occupied the N. side of the tabernacle, the hindmost in the march (Numbers 2:25; Numbers 2:31; Numbers 10:25), with Asher and Naphtali. Of Dan was Aholiab, associated with Bezaleel, in the construction of the tabernacle (Exodus 31:6, etc.). Its allotment was on the coast W. of Judah and Benjamin, S. of Ephraim, N. of Simeon; small, but most choice, extending from Joppa on the N. to Ekron on the S., 14 miles long, part of the shephelah (or vale sweeping along the whole coast, the N. part of which is Sharon). The powerful Philistines near them drove them partly toward the mountainous region bordering on Judah, so as to encroach on Judah's towns, Zorah and Eshtaol and Ir-shemesh or Beth-shemesh; compare Joshua 15:33 with Joshua 19:41. The Amorites previously "would not suffer them to come down into the valley" (Judges 1:34).

Hence, Samson resides at Mahaneh-Dan (the camp of Dan) in the hills, between Zorah and Eshtaol, behind Kirjath Jearim, and thence "comes down" to the vineyards of Timnath and the valley of Sorek. There too was his final resting place (Judges 13:25; Judges 14:1; Judges 14:5; Judges 14:19; Judges 16:4; Judges 16:31; Judges 18:12). The Phoenician king Esmunazar made this rich plain his prize long after, as an inscription records if rightly deciphered. In Joshua 19:47," the coast of Dan went out (too little)' for them," rather "went out from them" (Hebrew meehem ), i.e. to a distance from their original allotment, namely, to Leshem or Laish, (which 600 of their warriors armed went forth from Zorah and Eshtaol to seize on, in the far N.) and named Dan after their father, at the W. source of the Jordan River, four miles W. of Paneas.

Thrice stress is laid on the 600 being "appointed with weapons of war" (Judges 18:11; Judges 18:16-17), for the Philistines deprived all Israelites they could of arms, so that we find Samson using a donkey's jawbone as his only weapon (1 Samuel 13:19-21). Hence, as being so occupied with the Philistine warfare, Danites were not among Barak's and Deborah's helpers against Sisera (Judges 4; Judges 5:17, where allusion occurs to Dan's possession of the only Israelite port, "Why did Dan remain in ships?".) The N. Danites of Laish (named by them Dan) carried with them Micah the Ephraimite's Levitical family priest (Judges 17; 18) and graven image, which they worshipped" until the day of the captivity of the land" (Judges 18:30-31), i.e. until the Israelite reverse whereby the Philistines carried away the ark; what aggravated their idolatry was it was at the very time "that the house of God was in Shiloh," within their reach.

This probably suggested the city Dan to Jeroboam as one of the two seats of the golden calf worship (1 Kings 12:29). Dan's genealogy is not given in 1 Chronicles 2-12. Its unsettled state audits connection with the far N. Dan, the headquarters of idolatry, may have caused the loss of the genealogy. Dan is omitted among the sealed in Revelation 7 as having been the first to lapse into idolatry, for which cause Ephraim also is omitted (Judges 17; Hosea 4:17) and Joseph substituted. Arethas of the 10th century suggests that Dan's omission is because Antichrist is to be from him, or else to be his tool (compare Genesis 49:17; Jeremiah 8:16; Amos 8:14), as there was a Judas among the twelve.

Jacob's prophecy, "Dan shall be a serpent in the way, ... that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward," alludes primarily to Dan's local position in front of the royal Judah; so ready to meet the horse, forbidden in Israelite warfare, with the watchword "I have waited for Thy salvation," and to fall unawares on the advancing enemy by the way Dan's mode of warfare is illustrated in its attack on the men of Laish," careless, quiet, and secure," as also in their great judge Samson's mode of attack, watching for an opportunity and striking an unlooked for, stealthy, sudden blow. Mainly perhaps, by the Spirit, he has in view the old serpent which was to "bruise the heel" of the promised Savior (Genesis 3:15), but ultimately to have its head bruised by Him; therefore he adds the desire of all believers, "I have waited for Thy salvation," which abrupt exclamation is thus clearly accounted for.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Dan (1)'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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Dan (2)