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Dan (Hebrew: דּן, Dān; "judged"), (b. 2249 AM or 1755 BC), was the fifth son of Jacob and first son of Bilhah. He is the ancestor of the Tribe of Dan, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Probable birth date

Possibly in the early fall of 2248 AM (1756 BC), Rachel protested to Jacob concerning her lack of children. She told Jacob that if he didn't "give" her children, she would die. Jacob retorted in anger that he did not stand in the place of God, Who alone decided questions of that sort. So Rachel offered her handmaid, Bilhah, as her surrogate.

Dan was born in the next summer, and Rachel said, "God has judged me, and heard my voice, and given me a son." (Genesis 30:1-6 , Genesis 35:25 )

Dan's place in the birth order of the sons of Jacob, and the placement of the birth of Joseph in the fourteenth year of the service of Jacob to Laban, implies the year and season of Dan's birth.[1]

Entry into Egypt

In 2298 AM (1706 BC), Dan came to Egypt permanently, having visited Egypt twice before to buy grain during the famine of 2296-2302 AM (1708-1701 BC). He was 49 years old at the time and had one named son, Hushim. (Genesis 46:23 )

In his deathbed blessing, Jacob said this of Dan:

Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider tumbles backward. Genesis 49:16-17

This dual nature might refer to the future history of the tribe of Dan, which is not flattering. The Danites would be one of the most corrupt of all the tribes and would in fact lose its inheritance. Yet from Dan would come one of Israel's most important judges, namely Samson.

Dan in fiction

Dan appears, along with his other brothers, in multiple motion picture and television projects depicting the life and career of Joseph. The specific portrayal of Dan is probably accurate, in that his role in the salient events of Joseph's life was relatively undistinguished.


  1. Jones, Floyd N. The Chronology of the Old Testament. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, p. 278.

See also