Bible Question:

What does the Bible say about the tribe of Dan?

Bible Answer:

The patriarch Jacob had twelve sons and his fifth son was named Dan (Genesis 30:6). His mother was Bilhah, Rachel’s maid (Genesis 35:25). According to Genesis 46:23 Dan had only one son who was named Hushim.

Blessing Given To Dan – Would Judge Israel

Dan was given a blessing by his father, Jacob, just before he died. The blessing is recorded in Genesis 49:16-18.

Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
A horned snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
For Your salvation I wait, O LORD Genesis 49:16-18 (NASB)

Here we are told that Dan’s descendants would judge his people at some future time. This part of the blessing was fulfilled by Samson who judged Israel for twenty years (Judges 15:16, 20). The final, critical piece of information is that Judges 16:31 tells us that Samson’s father was Manoah who was a Danite (Judges 13:2). Thus, Samson was a Danite who judged Israel, fulfilling the prophecy.

Blessing Given To Dan – Would Become Idolatrous

The next part of the blessing reveals that Dan would be like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. He would not be faithful to the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the tribe of Dan was given the seventh opportunity to select their territory (Joshua 19:40-51). However, they were not able to occupy their selected territory due to a lack of faith and later moved north (Judges 18:1-31). In the process of moving north the Danites stole Micah’s idols (Judges 18:14-19) and Micah’s priest agreed to be the priest for the Danites (Judges 18:18-20, 27). Judges 18:30 gives us a sad report.

The sons of Dan set up for themselves  the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of  Gershom, the son of  Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. Judges 18:30 (NASB)

The sad report is that the Danites continued in apostasy and idolatrous worship until the Assyrian Empire took them captive in 722 B.C.  ( 1 Kings 12:28-30; 2 Kings 10:29).

The Danites Territory

Joshua 19:40-51 describes the initial territory assigned to the Danites.  Judges 18:27-29 describes the territory to which the Danites moved and a city that was named after Dan. This city was the most northern city in the land of Canaan within their new territory. For an explanation as to why it appears that the Danites had not yet been given their land, please visit the Q&A “Did the tribe of Dan move? Does Judges 18:1 contradict Joshua 19:48?”

Map of the Tribe of Dan


The tribe is missing from the list of tribes in Revelation 7:4-8.  That is they will not be part of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses in the tribulation period. However, they appear in Ezekiel 48:1-2, 32. These passages reveal that the tribe of Dan will have land apportioned to them during the millennial kingdom. There is a great spiritual illustration associated with the tribe of Dan. The tribe of Dan rejected their God and their rejection continues to this day. They will continue to reject God in the tribulation but they will turn to God at the end of the millennial kingdom because our God will draw them to Christ (Romans 11:25-26; Zechariah 12:10-13; 13:7-9; Ezekiel 48:1-2, 32). The Danites will come to the Lord in saving faith.

Suggested Links:

Did the tribe of Dan move? Does Judges 18:1 contradict Joshua 19:48?
Why is the tribe of Dan not among the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4-8?
Why is Dan missing in Revelation 7 but not in Ezekiel 48?
Why are Dan and Ephraim missing from Revelation 7:4-8?