Dan, The Pioneer of Israel
The Tribe of Dan, by its enterprise and vigour, has made itself one of the most conspicuous branches of Jacob’s family. Its ancestor was the son of one of the concubines, and was the firstborn of Rachel’s household. “God hath judged me,” (Genesis 30:6) said Rachel, and she called his name “Dan,” which means to judge, to rule; and this word, perhpas on that occasion first started as a surname, has been perpetuated as a title in the Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, and English. In these languages Din, Dun, Don, and Dan, signify ruler, master. The expression is repeatedly used by Shakespeare, Spenser, Chaucer, Prior, and others. The Spanish, too, from close contact for ages with the Hebrew, has engrafted it in their title of Don; it is in use in our universities to designate a professor or university official. (At a conference in Bayswater, in 1875, one of the opposition speakers took exception tothese remarks. He believed that the university and Spanish Don was derived from the Latin Dominus and, as forDun, in Scotch it meant a hill. I had not an opportunity of replying, but the objector seemed not to know how thoroughly h e was confirming what had been asserted. He did not seem to reflect that Rome, who was not even an infant in arms, when Rachelsaid, “God hath judgedme,” must have coined her Dominus and damno from the Hebrew orPhoenician. And, as regards Dun; Don likewise, in the Gothic, means hill as well as master, and in this double signification they merely resemble the word eminence, which in Ireland especialy is used as a title. Dun and Don therefore being identical, how come they to mean a hill, and yet often to be the name of ariver, unless it be for the samereasonthat another form of the name was once also imposed on atown vis., “After the name of Dan their father?” (Judges 1829))
How often do we see in the Bible that the name of an individual, foreshadows the character and career. Dan’s name given by Rachel implies authority and vigour, and Jacob, when bestowing his blessings, (Genesis 49:16) repeats and confirms it “Dan shall judge his people,” said the venerable patriarch, and proceeded to name other characteristics implying great wisdom and astutenss. The serpent is the Scripture symbol of wisdom (Genesis 3:1; Matthew 10:16): in dealing with foes of his plans would be laid with wisdom and secrecy, and his action wouldbe unlooked for and rapid.
“I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord,” (Genesis 49:18) is the exclamation of Jacob as he concluded his blessing to Dan. What was in the patriarch’s mind? Did a vision of Dan’s future career pass in review before him? Did he see the pioneers of Israel by and and sea carrying on their enterprise and explorations, trading among the Grecian Islands into the Black Sea, up the various rivers, crossing Asia Minor, exploring Europe, scouring the Mediterranean, on into the broad Atlantic, meeting the overland parties at the Baltic, settling in Denmark, and making asecret secure little hiding-place and sanctuary for centuries in Ireland, and other settlements in England and Scotland? And did the patriarch still see this Tribe in the van leading back to the conveyance leading them to the Land of Promise of 2 Samuel 7:10 and verified in 1 Chronicles 17:9, in the land when Yahweh will beat off “from the channel of the river of Egypt?” (Isaiah 27:12) in that day when Yeashua shall “bind up the breach of His people, and heal the stroke of their wound.” (Isaiah 30:26)