Dan and the Serpent Way.
Dan in Northern Israel,
Greece, and Elsewhere
Dan and the Serpent Way.
Dan in Northern Israel,
Greece, and Elsewhere
THE TRIBE OF DAN
The 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, griffin, and dragon. 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 Rabah 98;13).
The mother of Dan was Bilhah who also bore Nephtali. Dan and
Nephtali are often linked with each other. We identify Napthtali with Norway and
Dan with Denmark as well as in part Wales and Ireland. Bilhah was the
maidservant of Rachel mother of Benjamin and Joseph, and here too parallelisms
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 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;34 35)..
When Dan had been in the south they were unable to conquer all of the territory
allotted to them and apparently moved off and it would seem that the forces of
Joseph did manage to later take over the areas originally allotted to
The Bible says that Danites from the south went out (northward)
and conquered a place called Leshem (Joshua 19) that they renamed Dan: They did
the same thing with another place called Laish (Judges chapter 18). It is often
assumed that Laish and Leshem are different names for the same city but we will
show that they were totally different areas.
The populous 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.
See our article on the Northern borders of the Land of Israel in Biblical Times.
It had been prophesied that Dan in his own way would become a formidable
"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 bites the horse's
heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I wait for thy salvation, O LORD"
(Genesis 49;16 17).
"And of Dan, he said, Dan is a lion's whelp that leaps from
Bashan" (Deuteronomy 33;22)
The period of the Judges was a cruel age and even one setback could have near
fatal consequences. This explains how and why the Tribe of Dan would suddenly
come, like a leaping lion, conquer and when beaten be forced to move on, to
The Book of Judges (chapter 18) relates how 600 men from Dan in
the south went north and found a place named Laish whose inhabitants lived like
Sidonian-Phoenicians. They conquered Laish, wiped out the inhabitants, and
renamed the place Dan.
"In those days there was no king in Israel and the tribe of the Danites was
looking for territory to occupy, because they had not so far come into
possession of the territory allotted to them among the tribes of Israel. The
Danites therefore sent out five fighting men of their clan from Zorah and
Eshtaol to prospect. The five men went on their way and came to Laish. There
they found the inhabitants living a carefree life, in the same way as the
Sidonians, a quiet carefree folk, with no hereditary king to keep the country
under his thumb. They were a long way from the Sidonians and had no contact with
"And so six hundred men from the clan of the Danites set out
from Zorah and Eshtaol. They went up country and encamped in Kiriath jearim, in
Judah: this is why that place to this day is called Mahaneh dan [i.e. "The Camp
of Dan"]; it lies west of Kiriath jearim. From there they passed on to the hill
country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.
".....The five men entered Micah's house and took the idol and
image, ephod and teraphim......
"Thus they carried off the priest and things Micah had made for
himself, and attacked Laish....They put them to the sword and set fire to the
city....the city was in the vale near Beth Rehob. They re built the city and
settled in it, naming it Dan after the name of their forefather Dan, a son of
Israel; but its original name was Laish. The Danites set up the idol, and
Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses [other versions: Menasseh] and his sons
were priests to the tribe of Dan until the people went into exile. They set up
for themselves the idol which Micah had made, and it was there as long as the
House of God was at Shiloh" (Judges chapter 18).
The Book of Joshua related a very similar account which should
be considered since we believe (contrary to most others) that an entirely
different situation is being discussed:
"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" (Joshua
Both versions relate how the inheritance of the children of Dan
in the south was either too small for them (Joshua ch.18) or how they had not
taken possession of that which had been allocated to them (Judges ch.19). Both
tell how Danites went north seized a city, slew its inhabitants and re-settled
it naming it after DAN their father.
There are however several differences between the two
1. In the Book of Joshua the children of Dan had received an inheritance in the
south but it was insufficient for them and so they went to fight against Leshem.
In Judges though the Danites were in the region of Zorah and Eshtaol (in the
south) they had yet not taken possession of their own.
2. In Judges, at least at first, only six hundred went forth after receiving the
report of a reconnoitering mission: on the other hand, the Book of Joshua may
be understood to say that all (or nearly all) of Dan went to fight.
3. In the Book of Joshua the city taken is called Leshem: In Judges the city is
called LAISH. Some Commentators have tried to state that "Leshem" and "Laish"
are different forms of the same word but "leshem" in Hebrew is a type of
precious stone (maybe amber) while "laish" means a young male lion.
As stated, most (IF NOT ALL) Commentators have assumed that
the accounts in the Books of Joshua and Judges are relating to one and the same
event and that Leshem and Laish are variations of the same name. Nevertheless,
it now seems certain that LESHEM and LAISH were two different places!
The place called Leshem and renamed Dan in the Book of Joshua
appears to be the site of DAN in northern Galilee otherwise known as Daphne. On
the other hand, LAISH which was also renamed DAN and is recalled in the Book of
Judges is identical with a centre which gave its name to LUASH of the DANANU!
LUASH adjoins Smal of Cilicia in modern southeast Turkey. The distance on foot
between the two locations, Leshem of Dan in the northern Galilee and Luash of
the Dananu in north Syria, is more than three hundred miles!!
The identification of Luash with Liash involves identifying the
Dananu who lived in or besides Luash with the Danites of Israelite Dan.
1. The area hereby identified as that within which Liash-Dan is to
be found is that known in ancient times as the Kingdom(s) of Smal of the Dananu
and of Yadi and of Luash and Hamath. This encompassed the areas in Ptolemy's Map
(of Arabia Deserta and Syria) depicting Chalybonitis, Cyrrestica, Commagena,
Cilicia, and extending into Armenia Minor. To the east and southeast of this
region were the territories of Bathanaei and Bathanaea Regio (i.e. Kingdom of
Bathanaea) and Bathan is an Aramaic ("Syrian") pronounciation of BASHAN. Moses
had blessed the Tribe of Dan (Deuteronomy 33;22): "Dan is a lion's whelp, he
shall leap from Bashan". The area of Luash may also be considered part of Bashan.
"LIASH" means young male lion and therefore connects with the expression "Dan is
a lion's whelp", i.e. Dan is a young "Liash" leaping forth from the Bashan:
Luash-Liash may be considered a geographical extension, a "leaping forward" from
the area denoted as Bathan or Bashan.
2. The names LIASH and LUASH are similar. The place-name Luash is renderable as
"LA'AS" which is close in sound to "Liash".
3. Near Luash was the entity of Yadi which was an enclave of Judaeans adjoining
the Dananu of Smal and usually ruled by the same monarch. "Yadi" is referred to
as "Hamath" which was restored to "Judah in Israel" (2 Kings 14;28) meaning that
part of Judah that was attached to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Dan and Judah
were neighbours in both north and south Israel. Dan in the south had centred on
the port of Joppa and adjoined the territory of Judah. In the northern Galilee
Judaeans in Gilead of Machir are believed to have bordered Dan and to be those
named "Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising" in the Book of Joshua (19;34).
In Jewish tradition Judah and Dan are often juxtapositioned. Samson the
superman-hero came from the Tribe of Dan but his mother was from Judah. Samson,
in some respects, was considered a forerunner of the Messiah who will come from
Judah but his mother, according to the Midrash, will be of the Tribe of Dan.
Both Judah and Dan were represented by a lion, though Dan has additional
symbols such as the snake and dragon.
THE BIBLE MENTIONS YAIR OF JUDAH (DEUTERONOMY 3;14) IN THE
BASHAN. YAIR WAS CONNECTED BOTH WITH MENASSEH AND WITH THE CHELUBIE OF JUDAH.
THE CHELUBIE ARE RECALLED IN CHALYBONITIS which was to the northwest of Bathanae
(Bashan) on Ptolemy's Map. Yair was mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as the
IARI in the region of Chalybonitis and the surrounding area (including at times
in Gauzanitis and elsewhere) raiding and waging wars on both sides of the
Euphrates River. Since Yadi was settled by Judaeans and these were united with
the Dananu so is the case strengthened for the Dananu having come from Dan in
Israel. (This may seem obvious, but it is still not conventionally entirely
recognised). The name Yair is often transliterated as "Jair".
"Jair the son of Menasseh took all the country of Argob unto
the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name Bashan
Havoth Jair, unto this day" (Deuteronomy 3;14).
Hezron (son of Judah) begat both Chelubai and Segub the father
of Jair. Jair was therefore the nephew of Chelubai and familial relationships
often presaged political and settlement combinations amongst the descendants (1
4. In both accounts the conquered and re-settled city is renamed DAN "after the
name of their forefather Dan a son of Israel". This may reflect a Tribal
characteristic and some have interpreted the phrase "Dan shall be a serpent by
the way, an adder in the path .." (Genesis 49;16) as referring to a Tribal
Trait of leaving their namesake everywhere like the trail of a snake print
showing the wriggling of his passage, e.g. "Mahaneh Dan" (Judges 18;12), Don,
Daneister, Danaper, Danube, Denmark, Dannonia....
5. Laish "was in the valley that lieth by Beth Rehob" (Judges 18). Beth Rehob is
identifiable with "REHOB" in the northern territory of the Tribe of Asher
(Joshua 19;28, 30) and as "Rehob as men come to Hamath" (Numbers 13;21). HAMATH
is the name of an area and the city of Hamath (said Rashi) is identical with
that known as Antiochea on the Orontes River in north Syria. Hamath was a
kingdom which may have included HOMS in east Syria but nevertheless Scripturally
should be identified more with the area of Antiochea which was more to the
north. Similarly DAMASCUS was far to the north near (or in Cilicia) and not
Damascus of today. Eliyahu ("The Gaon") of Vilna (ca.1700 c.e.) (on Joshua
19;28) identified REHOB with Beth Rehob and placed the border of Asher in the
north by Hamath, Antiochea and "Damascus of the North" which was near Cilicia
in southeast Turkey. |Nadav Naaman ("Hazael of Amqi and Hadadezer of Beth-Rehob"
UF27 (1995) has also shown that Beth-Rehob was identiqal with Amqi in Northwest
Syria by the presentday Turkish border adjoining Cilicia.
The Yadi ruled over the Mushkabim who (according to a bi-lingual
Phoenician-Hittite inscription) are apparently identical with the Moshki or
people of Mopsus who were also subjects of the Dananu king. The names Mushkabim
and Moshki support the notion that Smal and Yadi are identical with the Biblical
Da-Meshek i.e. Damascus:- "Damascus [i.e. Da-Meshek] and Hamath to Judah in
Israel" (2 Kings 14;28). Both the Danites and Yadi of Judah ruled over the same
subject Moshki people who later were known as Muski and are identified with the
Phrygians. There were periods when both the Dananu and Yadi were ruled by the
same monarch. At some stage they separated, Kalamu a king of Yadi backed the
subject Mushkabim (i.e. Moshki) against the Baririm or nobility of his own
people and also enlisted Assyrian help against the Dananu. The ultimate result
was that both kingdoms were destroyed and the Yadi and Dananu exiled. Centuries
later the Jutes (from "Yadi"?) were to settle in Denmark and a Danish tradition
traced the Jutes to Judah and the Danes to Dan.
6. In the Book of Ezekiel (48;1) it says concerning the future apportionment of
the Promised Land amongst the Israelite Tribes,
"From the north end to the coast ..as one goes to Hamath...the border of
Damascus northward, to the coast of Hamath..a portion for Dan".
This verse according to Commentaries indicates that Dan is destined to receive a
portion stretching beyond Hamath (Antiochea on the Orontes) and into the region
northward of it. This Millenial Promise seems to have had an historical
7. The Orontes enters the Mediterranean Sea at Antiochea (modern:
Antakya) in northern Syria. North of the Orontes River were the lands of Alasiya
or Luash (i.e. Liash). Zakir, the King of Hamath in one inscription bears a
Hebrew name and uses a type of Aramaic influenced by Hebrew. He is entitled
"King of Hamath and LUASH". Zakir also ruled over Chazrik in this same region.
8. The king of Sma'al in the valley north of ASI (Orontes
embouchemont) on the edge of LUASH (LIASH) called himself "KING of the DANIM"
i.e. of the Danes of Dan. The Danes (Dananu) also controlled the neighbouring
area of Cilicia and at one stage their capital was Adana by Tarsis of Cilicia
and their suzerainity reached as far north as Karatepe. A bi-lingual inscription
of theirs found at Karatepe employs a Phoenician type of Hebrew and a version of
Hittite. Branches of the Hittites in Anatolia neighboured the Dananu of Cilicia.
This northern portion of Dan is referred to variously as Dananu, Danau, Denye,
Denyen, Danuna. They are probably identical with the original Danaioi of
Classical Greek writings.
9. A Phoenician inscription discovered in 1855 in a cave outside of
ancient Sidon speaks in the name of "Ashmunezer king of Sidon". The text is of
unknown date and may be copied from an original written anytime in the period
1000 b.c.e. to 600 b.c.e. The text is transmitted by A.Markuswho claimed that
the Phoenician form of Hebrew appears like a foreign language in the Phoenician
mouth and did not sit easily with them. Nevertheless, about half the words are
Hebrew words and are comprehensible (with some effort) to a Hebrew reader. The
text may be translated directly approximately as follows:
(18) ......The Lord of the Kings exiled and gave unto us (19)
Doar (i.e. Dor) and Jaffo lands of the mighty Dagan which are of the root of
Dan, who were experienced in power, which he exercised and added the port (20)
onto the borders of my lands to regulate my land for ever".
The inscription appears to link Dan with Dagan god of the
Philistines. It testifies to the prestige the Tribe of Dan once held in those
maritime parts. It links Dan with both Dor and Jaffo off the coast of Israel and
thus with the Sea Peoples. This inscription recalls the Biblical Statement which
speaks of a time when the Phoenicians of Sidon and others oppressed Israel: "The
Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye
cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand" (Judges 10;12). It is
interesting to note that the Maonites ("Maoni") were a people who lived to the
east of Israel as well as in Lydia (northwest Turkey) where they were
10. The names by which the Dananu (Denye, etc.) are known are those
which would be expected in foreign parts for Dan. There is an identity between
the Danaoi of Greek tradition, the Dananu of Cilicia, and Dan of Israel*24.
11. Egyptian accounts of the Dananu connect them with the northern
region of Israel, with Cilicia, Cyprus, and with other groups whose names and
characteristics appear Hebraic and with the Philistines who neighboured (and at
times controlled) the Tribe of Dan in the south.
12. The Danaioi of Greek Mythology were described by the Greeks as
having come out of Egypt and as being brothers to the Jews. This identifies the
Danaioi of Greek tradition with Dan of Israel. The Danaioi are associable with
the Danuna of Cilicia.
13. Greek sources speak of the people of Mopsus of Anatolia who have
been identified (thanks to a bi-lingual inscription) with the Dananu of Cilicia.
The "people of Mopsus" (i.e. the Dananu) in legendary accounts also parallel Dan
of Israel and Samson the judge hero of Dan.
14. The Dananu ruled Cyprus which was named "Yadnana" ("Isle of the
Dana") in their honour. Other sources indicate a strong Israelite influence in
Cyprus at some time or other. Culturally Cyprus was very much a Phoenician
island. This shows the possibility of an overlap between Dan and the
15. Mutual cultural influences between northern Syria, Cilicia,
Anatolia, and Israel confirm the impression of close contact between these
regions consistent with colonisation of Israelites in the north..
16. The Tribe of Dana (Tuatha de Danaan) according to different
accounts of Irish Mythology had been in both the northern land of Israel and in
the area of Greece and displays Israelite characteristics. Taking the facts at
their face value a simple solution is available concerning the identity of the
Tribe of Dana in Irish Mythology: The Dana of the Irish were Israelites from the
Tribe of DAN and probably at least contained elements from the Dananu in Smal
who were also from Dan of Israel.
17. Solinus said that before the rise of Assyria, Cilicia was one of
the four great powers of Asia. Cilicia was the region from which the Dananu made
their power effective.
DAN AND GREECE.
The Tribe of Dan in the land of Israel were seafarers from an early stage:
"Why did DAN remain in ships?" (Judges 6;7) asked the Prophetess Deborah.
The Prophet Ezekiel linked Dan together with Javan (i.e. Ionia in west Anatolia
or Greece in general) as trading with Phoenician Tyre:
"Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in the fairs: bright iron,
cassia, and calamus, were in thy market" (Ezekiel 27;19).
The above verse is alternatively translatable (from the Hebrew) as saying:
"Dan and Yavan from Uzzal were your sub-contracting intermediaries, they
produced iron manufactures, alloyed, and in bars. They were amongst your
guarantors" (Ezekiel 27;19).
Cilicia was one source of iron and the Dananu were in Cilicia.
The chief port of Cilicia was Tarsis. Long after the Danites had departed,
Samson, the deliver-hero of Dan, was still worshipped in Tarsis under the name
Danaus: Greek tradition related how Danaus after coming out of
Egypt came with his daughters to Greece whereas his brothers went to Jerusalem.
In Greece the daughters of Danaus intermarried with the local aristocracy and
their children became rulers. In honour of Danaus the local Pelasgian Ionian
Greeks renamed themselves DANAIOI by which term the early Greeks are often
referred to by Homer, though some say that by "Danaoi" Homer was referring more
to a specific ruling warrior class..
"Danaus, the father of fifty daughters on coming to Argos took
up his abode in the city of Inarchos and throughout Hellas [i.e. Greece] he laid
down the law that all people hitherto named Pelasgians were to be named Danaans"
(Strabo 5.2.40 quoting Euripides ca. 480-406 BCE).
Diodorus Siculus (i;28;1 5; 90-27 BCE) reported:
"They say that those who set forth with Danaus, likewise from
Egypt, settled what is practically the oldest city of Greece, Argos, and that
the nations of the Colchi in Pontus and that of the Jews, which lies between
Arabia and Syria, were founded as colonies by certain emigrants from their
i.e. This source is implying that Danaus had the same origin as the rest of
The Philistines are believed to have been of the same stock as
the Greek Pelasgians and the term "PELAST" (meaning Philistine) in early Greek
inscriptions is considered interchangeable for Pelasgian. As suggested, the
struggle of the Danites with the Philistines within the Land of Israel may be
somehow connected with the coming of the Danaoi to Greece. There is an opinion
that the Danaioi formed a peculiar military class amongst the Mycenean Greeks.
At all events the Greek account may be understood as saying that a small number
of DANITES came to Greece, intermarried with local rulers, gave their name to an
early already present segment of the population, and not much more than that.
Archaeologists now believe that an offshoot of the Hyksos,
about the time when they were expelled from Egypt came to Greece, conquered it,
and laid the basis for Mycenean civilisation. They identify these Hyksos with
the Danaioi of Greek tradition. This version also infers that the Danaioi were
relatively few in numbers though qualitatively determinative.
The Dananu of Cilicia were to be connected in Greek Mythology
with a hero named Mopsus. Mopsus in turn was linked with Daphne and Apollo. The
legendary Daphne was the supposed mother of Mopsus and she had established the
colony of Colophon in Ionia. Ionia was in western Anatolia (modern Turkey)
opposite Greece. Most of Ionia belonged to Javan and the two names ("Yavan" and
"Ionia") are essentially the same. To the east of Ionia was originally a Hittite
Empire which was destined to be destroyed and ultimately replaced by Lydians and
Phrygians and others. The time of destruction of the Hittite Empire was around
that of the Dorian invasions of Greece, the Sea peoples' attacks on Egypt and
maybe the destruction of Troy. Troy was to the southwest of Ionia. Troy
overlooks the Hellespont (Dardanelles) where according to Saxo Grammaticus once
existed a settlement named Dan whence the Danites sailed to Scandinavia.
Apollo was originally a Hittite thunder god who in Greek
Mythology through Daphne fathered Mopsus. From his base in Colophon (Ionia)
Mopsus joined a group returning from the Trojan War. Mopsus founded colonies in
southern Anatolia (Aspendus) and in Cilicia. Strabo (14;4;3) said that the Tribe
of Mopsus invaded the eastern Mediterranean area and settled the coasts of
Cilicia, Syria, and Phoenicia. Mopsus wandered about with his band of warriors,
was famous for his riddles, and according to Xanthus died in Ashkelon of
snakebite. The Danite hero, Samson was also famous for his riddles (Judges
15;12), and gave his life apparently in Gaza (Judges 16;21) which like Ashkelon
was a Philistine city not far from Gaza. Samson's death was caused by his
deliberately collapsing the two supporting pillars of the building he was in, in
order to destroy its occupants at that moment. In Talmudic tradition Samson's
death was likened to that of a snake who bites the horse's heel in order to kill
the rider but is himself crushed by the horse collapsing upon him.
"Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that bites the
horse's heels, so that his rider shall fall backward" (Genesis 49;17).
The Talmud (Jerushalemi Sotah 9;b-10;a) adduced additional reasons for likening
Samson to a snake by the wayside which strengthen the similarity between Mopsus
and Samson of Dan.
The Tribe of Dan as described in the Bible may also well be
likened to a wandering group of warriors. If the equation Dan and Dananu is
accepted then (like the people of Mopsus) the Danites did settle along the
coasts of Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia and from one point of view these places
are merely different parts of the Land of Israel. The mother of Mopsus was
called Daphne which according to Josephus was the name given to a spot at the
head reaches of the Jordan River on which the centre of DAN IN THE GALILEE was
founded. It was on this spot that King Jeroboam ben Nebat set up one of his
golden calves for the Ten Tribes to worship. Incidentally, the Heraclidae (Sons
of Hercules) who led the Dorian invasion of Greece believed themselves descended
from Hercules and a slave girl named JARDANUS (Herodotus 1;7). This name is
derived from the Hebrew "Jordan". One Talmudic explanation of this name (applied
to the Jordan River) was "Descend (Yored) from Dan". The Geographical location
of Dan in the Galilee contains a spring which is one of the sources of the
River Jordan. Josephus says that Dan in the Galilee was also known as "Daphne"
which was the name given to the mother of Mopsus! Another form of the name
Samson is Sandon which is the name given to the patron-idol of Tarsis in Cilicia
and probably identical with Mopsus.
The Dananu were at first centred in Smal to the east of Cilicia.
In the 700s BCE the centre of the Dananu moved to Adana in Cilicia though Smal
remained important. Dananu suzerainity stretched to the north in east Anatolia
and reached at least to Karatepe to the north of Cilicia. After the destruction
of the Hittite Empire, small neo-Hittite states had arisen in northern Syria.
They were of Hittite culture and influenced the Dananu. From the Danau centre of
Karatepe has been found a bi-lingual text using both a Hittite tongue and a form
of Phoenicianised Hebrew. The King of Karatepe identifies himself as ruler of
the Dananu and says he is descended from "the house of MPS". This appellation
("MPS") has been equated with the Greek rendition of MOPSUS. At all events,
MOPSUS was considered a term of royalty in the Cilician area and an important
region (by the coast) was known as "Mopsopia". "MOPSOS" appears also to have
been a title given to the idol SANDON who was equated with Hercules and
worshipped in Cilicia. The name Sandon is probably a dialectical version of
Samson. Legends concerning Hercules are based on identical themes to those in
the story of Samson. Hercules was the great grandson of Perseus and Perseus a
descendant of Danaus of Greek Mythology. Perseus,said the Greeks, conquered the
city of Jaffo (in the Land of Israel) and married Andromeda the daughter of the
King of Ethiopia who then ruled there. Jaffo was the area originally bequeathed
to the Tribe of Dan and which the Tribe of Dan unsuccessfully attempted to
conquer and settle before directing their attentions elsewhere.
From the above it may therefore be so far concluded that the
Tribe of Dan AT FIRST for a time settled in the south of Israel. Many of the
Danites went later to Dan of the Galilee. A small but significant number went
even further north to Smal and Cilicia. A band of adventurers from Dan
apparently also reached Greece and contributed to the ruling class and some type
of intermittent connection between Dan and Greece may have existed. They also
seem to have probably established a few scattered settlements in areas of
Anatolia AND ESPECIALLY IN CILICIA (in present-day southeast Turkey). The kings
of Smal in Cilicia were Dananu. They ruled over both Smal and Yadi from the 880s
BCE (if not well before) and had Semitic names. Some portion of the Dananu
remained in Smal until the Assyrians exiled them. They may never have been much
more than a minority ruling over another people whom they subjected.
AN EARLY EXILE OF NORTHERN DAN?
There are Scriptural indications that many from Dan in
Laish (i.e. the Dananu) went into exile at an early date. The account in Judges
(chapter 17) which tells of the Danites taking Laish tells how the Danites took
with them a graven image. This idol had formerly been in the house of Micah in
the territory of Ephraim. It had been attended to by a Levite named Yehonathan
who previously had promised their emissaries a successful mission. The Danites
in their journey to Laish also took Yehonathan the Levite along with the idol
and assorted appurtenances used in the idolatrous (or semi-idolatrous) cult. As
recounted, the Danites conquered Laish, burnt it, and renamed it DAN after
"their father who was born to Israel".
"And the children of Dan set up the graven image; and Jonathan
the son of Gershom, the son of Menasseh, he and his sons were priests to the
tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
"And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all
the days that the house of God was in Shiloh" (Judges 18;30-31).
Shiloh and the Tabernacle were destroyed by the Philistines in about 1000 BCE.
The above verse seems to link the time of "the captivity of the land" with the
presence of the Tabernacle at Shiloh [Judges 18;30-31 i.e. until about 1000 BCE.
The Hebrew original for "captivity of the land" is "Galut Ha-aretz" or
literally, `The Exile of the Country'. It follows that part of the Tribe of Dan
may have been exiled already in ca.1000 BCE. Also in the south (around Jaffo)
there appears to have been an early evacuation or exile of the Danites.
DAN IN THE GALILEE (Leshem).
The Tribe of Dan apparently specialised in metallurgy. Aholiab
(Exodus 31;6) and Hiram (2-Chronicles 2;13) who were expert artisans and metal
workers both are linked in Scripture with the Tribe of Dan. Archaeological
findings reveal the existence in Dan of the Galilee of a metal industry dating
from the Time of Israelite Conquest (Late Bronze Age) to at least the 800s BCE.
This industry specialized at first mainly in bronze and afterwards also in iron.
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin both of which in the Egyptian period were
obtainable from the Sinai Peninsula. Other areas in Israel also supply copper as
did Cilicia and the Caucasus area. Much of the tin (possibly the greater part)
came from Britain. Herodotus (ca.450 BCE) gives the impression that all the tin
of his time was produced in British Isles. An interruption in the supply of tin
(preventing Bronze production) is believed to have induced the Iron Age in this
area. Iron was available from Cilicia and elsewhere. The Sea Peoples (with whom
the Dananu were associated) were considered sophisticated copper smelters and
Dan in the Galilee was destroyed in the 800s BCE by attacks from
the Aramaean kingdoms to the north. Part of an inscription in Archaic Aramaic
has been found on the site of Dan in the Galilee: From what can be understood
from this inscription it may be inferred that the Aramaic (Syrian) monarch is
stating that formerly the Israelites had been in the land of his father. Guided
by the storm god Hadad (a form of Baal) he (i.e. the king of Syria) came against
Israel and slew many including a King of Israel who was descended (he says) from
the House of David. He apparently laid waste to Dan. Dan is known to have been
attacked by the Syrian monarch ben Hadad in 815 BCE and after that was unheard
THE STRANGENESS OF DAN.
CERTAIN EXPRESSIONS USED IN SCRIPTURE CONCERNING DAN SEEM TO RETURN ON THE
INFERENCE THAT DAN WAS ESTRANGED AT AN EARLY DATE:
"Why did Dan remain in ships?" (Judges 5;17).
"Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel"
"And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan
their father who was born unto Israel" (Judges 18:29).
The question that arises from the above is why in the case of
Dan (and not of the other tribes) there arises a need to affirm that Dan "was
born unto Israel"? Also why say that Dan will be: "as one of the tribes of
Israel"? as if at some stage there was doubt on the matter? Some free-thinking
"authorities" adopted the view that the Tribe of Dan was originally a foreign
body. They identified the original Danites with the Danaoi of Greece and the
Dananu of Cilicia, and then say that somehow this originally foreign group was
engrafted amongst the Tribes of Israel. These notions are against the simple
message of the Bible and do not accord with the evidence. Nevertheless, the fact
that the idea could be feasibly raised, considered, and in some academic circles
tentatively accepted emphasises the impression that Dan was somehow different.
Dan in the land of Israel adopted foreign customs different to those of most of
Israel and too went into exile at an early stage.
It was noted above that Eldad HaDani in the 800s c.e. related a
tradition that some time after the northern Ten Tribes under Jeroboam (928-907
BCE) seceded from Judah there erupted hostilities between the two halves of the
Israelite nation. Rather than engage in a fratricidal conflict the Tribe of Dan
went into exile of their own accord, i.e. they left the Land before the
Assyrians came down and took away the rest of the Northern Israelites..
The estrangement of Dan is referred to in the "Testament of the
Twelve Patriarchs". This literary work was first written in Judaea in ca.135 BCE
but was later heavily doctored by Christian editors. It contains alleged
statements of the Tribal Patriarchs and some parts of it may reflect genuine
tradition. It quotes Dan forefather of the Tribe of Dan as prophesying of his
"That they should forget their God, and should be alienated from
the land of their inheritance and from the race of Israel, and from the family
of their seed" (vii.3).
The wording of the above "forget" ... "alienated" ..."from the
race of Israel" .."from the family of their seed" could be taken as hinting at
an alienation (through earlier exile?) from Israel as a whole beyond and before
that experienced by the Lost Ten Tribes as a whole.
The mentioned sources above support the notion that at least
part of Dan may already have been in exile long before his fellow North
Israelite Tribes went into exile in 730-720 BCE.
"In the period of the Judges there were wars and many were exiled among the
nations of the world" (Commentary of "HaNatziv" on Numbers 24;7).
For More about Dan go to:
Selected Articles Concerning the Tribe of Dan
For more information on Brit-Am contact: