(a judge). The fifth son of Jacob and the first of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid (Genesis 30:6). The origin of the name is given in the exclamation of Rachel. The records of Dan are unusually meager. Only one son is attributed to him (Genesis 46:23), but his tribe was, with the exception of Judah, the most numerous of all. In the division of the promised land Dan was the last of the tribes to receive his portion, which was the smallest of the twelve (Joshua 19:48), but notwithstanding its smallness it had eminent natural advantages. On the north and east it was completely embraced by its two brother tribes Ephraim and Benjamin, while on the southeast and south it joined Judah, and was thus surrounded by the three most powerful states of the whole confederacy. It was a rich and fertile district, but the Amorites soon “forced them into the mountain” (Judges 1:34), and they had another portion granted them (Judges 18). In the “security” and “quiet” (Judges 18:7, 10) of their rich northern possession the Danites enjoyed the leisure and repose which had been denied them in their original seat. In the time of David Dan still kept its place among the tribes (1 Chronicles 12:35). Asher is omitted, but the “prince of the tribe of Dan” is mentioned in the list of (1 Chronicles 27:22). But from this time forward the name as applied to the tribe vanishes. It is kept alive only by the northern city. In the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 2-12, Dan is omitted entirely. Lastly, Dan is omitted from the list of those who were sealed by the angel in the vision of St. John (Revelation 7:5-7).
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866).