Dan – Twelve Tribes of Israel
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.
The name of Dan means to judge, to minister judgment or to plead a cause. It is most significant that this name is engraved in the Beryl stone which represents a subduing or a breaking. Dan was to judge his own house as an equal, judge his tribe.