Jewish Tribes: Dan
Tammy Schwartz - February 2, 2009
Dan was the son of Jacob and the maidservant of his wife Rachel, Bilhah, and was father of the Tribe of Dan, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Another brother, Naphtali was also born to Bilhah and Jacob. Dan was one of the brothers involved in the plot to sell his brother Joseph into slavery. Much later Jacob would send Dan to Egypt to buy corn during a severe famine in Canaan. Dan received a blessing from Jacob that "Dan shall judge his people" (Gen. 49:16).
Jacob's Blessing at Rabbi Haness Tomb
The Tribe of Dan was one of the Tribes of Israel and lived in the most northerly region occupied by the Israelite tribes. It was situated to the north of the Galilee and west of the Jordan, stretching north as far as Laish, Dan's main city which would later become known as Dan. This region is referred to in the Book of Genesis during Abraham's chasing of Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:14). Some members of the Tribe of Dan also settled in the southern part of the country and thatís where the expression "from Dan to Beer-sheba" indicating the entire span of the Israelite land came from.
The Tribe of Dan is described in the Book of Numbers as being the largest Israelite tribe. According to the biblical sources the Tribe of Dan had originally tried to settle in the central coastal area of Palestine but due to enmity with the Philistines they were only able to camp in the hill country overlooking the Sorek Valley. The region they were trying to settle included the area as far north as Joppa, and extending south into the Shephelah in the area of Timnah and as a result the modern State of Israel refers to the region as Gush Dan (the Dan area).
The Song of Deborah describes the tribe of Dan as residing in ships, and another narrative in Judges describes the tribe as being without a fixed abode until conquering Laish.
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