Tribe of Dan

From Academic Kids

The Tribe of Dan (דָּן "Judge", Standard Hebrew Dan, Tiberian Hebrew Dān) is one of the Hebrew tribes, which the bible claims was founded by Dan, son of Jacob and Bilhah, Rachel's maidservant (Genesis 30:4).

The tribe originally settled in the central coastal area of the promised land (Joshua 19), in proximity to the area controlled by the Philistines. Samson, the legendary warrior against the Philistines, was said to be a member of this tribe. Later, the bible claims that the tribe moved to the northern part of the land (Judges 18), apparently due to military pressure by the Philistines. There, its principal settlement was Tel Dan. The move involved a religious act of defiance, when the Dan people installed their own independent legacy of Levite clergy.

When Jeroboam led the revolt of the northern tribes and established the Kingdom of Israel, Dan was one of the tribes in it, and so would count as one of the Lost Tribes exiled by the Assyrians.

The original territory of Dan, before the move to the north, is approximately the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv. Hence this metropolis is known in Hebrew as Gush Dan - the Dan area.

The Beta Israel, a group of Jews living in Ethiopia which was isolated from Israel until the 19th century claim to be descendants of the Tribe of Dan, though it is not clear how they got there.

Sea Peoples

The bible describes Dan as a sea faring tribe, and the tribe may be the same as the Danua mentioned in egyptian accounts. The Danua were part of a tribal confederation known as the Sea Peoples, which also included Peleset (the Philistines), Shekelesh (taken to mean men of Sheker and thus possibly Issachar), Tjekker (thought to mean of Acco, and thus may refer to Manessah), Weshesh (technically Uashesh, and thus may refer to Asher).

Records only state that the Sea People attacked Egypt, and other nations, but not where they came from or where they went to. As such there has been much speculation, with some thinking they either invaded, or returned home to, coastal Canaan, and subsequently their federation for some unknown reason split, with some tribes joining the Israelite federation.

Since their nearest neighbours in the original federation would have been the Philistines, the Philistines would have had particularly strong feelings such a betrayal by Dan. This may have contributed to the strong hostility between the two groups.

During the period of activity by the Sea Peoples, a group referred to as the Danoi appear and receive mention in Homer (and subsequently danae is introduced into greek mythology explaining their co-heritage with the greeks. The majority of academics researching Homer think that the Danoi are the same group as either the tribe of Dan, the Danua, or both.

This has lead to much speculation on more spurious theories such as that the tribe of Dan were the Danes, or the Tuatha Dé Danann of Ireland, based on the principle that the word Don and Dan appears in many names of rivers and places in celtic, scandanavian, and other areas. An alternative explanation, and the one supported by more mainstream scholars, is that Don, Dan, etc. appear in the names of rivers and similar places due to the fact that Dan/Don are celtic and germanic words for river.

It must be stressed, however, that a majority of modern scholars think that the Sea Peoples (apart from the Peleset, whom they agree are the Philistines) were predominantly of Greek island origin, though this fails to explain why the Egyptians depict them as being circumcised or having semitic names. Contrasting with the majority opinion is the current fact that no supporters of the standard view have identified which location(s) the sea people actually originate from successfully, and as such the issue is one of the major outstanding problems of this period of history.fr:Tribu de Dan he:שבט דן

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