Some Characteristics of Dan
Adapted from "Lost Israelite Identity" (1996)
Tribal Identifications: Dan part 2
by Yair Davidiy
A Few Notes on
THE TRIBE OF DAN
Tribe of Dan when it came out of Egypt with the rest of the Children
of Israel was, after Judah, the most populous of Israelite Tribes
with 62,700 males between the ages of 20 and 60 apart from women, children,
and the elderly (Numbers 2;26).
The son of Dan was called "Hushim" (Genesis 46;23) who gave rise to the Danite
clan known as Shuhami (Numbers 26;43). Symbols associated with the Tribe
of Dan include a lion, snake, eagle, dragon, and griffin. A griffin
is an imaginary creature with the wings and body of an eagle and the head of a lion. The Hyksos rulers of Egypt used a griffin
as their symbol. The Hyksos were either Hebrews or a Band of Egyptian
rulers who relied on Israelites in their forces and were heavily influenced
by Hebraic and Canaanite culture.
Aholiab of the Tribe of Dan assisted Betzaleel of the Tribe of Judah in
building the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Exodus 31;2 6).
Character appraisals of Dan in tradition appear contradictory. One source
(Talmud, Shabat 67) says that all the children of Dan were idolaters.
It also says that Dan received the north side "whence darkness comes". A
Midrash states that Samson the legendary judge hero had a Danite father and a mother from Judah whereas the future Messiah
will have a father from Judah and a mother from Dan or from Nephtali (Genesis
The mother of Dan was Bilhah who also bore Nephtali. Dan and Nephtali are
often linked with each other. Bilhah was the maidservant of Rachel mother
of Benjamin and Joseph, and here too parallelisms are noticeable.
Eldad HaDani (ca.800 c.e.) quotes an old legend according to which
the Tribe of Dan left the Land of Israel after the Ten Tribes separated themselves
from Judah. The Northern Ten Tribes under Jeroboam ben Nebat warred against
Judah in the south and so Dan rather than engage in a fratricidal struggle
went into voluntary exile.
SAMSON was from the Tribe of Dan. Samson was an heroic saviour of superhuman
strength given to him at moments of Divine inspiration.. He became the prototype
for Hercules. In Greek Classical Mythology Hercules appears to frequently
represent peregrinations of migrating Phoenicians and Israelites.
At first the Tribe of Dan received an inheritance around the area of Joppa
(modern Jaffa- Tel Aviv). Most of the inheritance of Dan in the south was
to be lost to the Amorites and Philistines and later regained by the Israelite
Tribes of Ephraim and Judah BUT NOT DAN.
"And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families.
"And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh,
"And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah,
"And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,
"And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath,
"And Jehud, and BeneBerak, and Gath rimmon,
"And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho.
"And the coast of the children of Dan went out [(too little)]
for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem,
and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and
dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.
"This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according
to their families, these cities with their families" (Joshua 19;4048).
"And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
"But the Amorites would dwell in Mount Heres in Aijalon, and in
Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became
tributaries" (Judges 2;3435)..
We see from the above that the Tribe of Dan in the south was only successful
in obtaining a portion of the inheritance it had been bequeathed when the
Land was divided amongst the Tribes. We also saw that Dan was quite populous.
Consequently many from the Tribe of Dan were to go elsewhere.
The Tribe of Dan was to launch forward and conquer an area in the Upper
Galilee, another region in Cilicia (southeast Turkey), establish settlements
in Anatolia, engage in an attempted invasion of Egypt, establish a base in
Libya, conquer Greece, Cyprus, and Crete, and establish
a presence in Bronze Age Scandinavia, Britain, and Ireland.