Glimpses of Israel - Dan

by Joseph Hunting

The original location for the tribe of Dan was Zorah, in what was known as the Shephila or the lowlands, about midway between Jerusalem and ancient Joppa. One of the most illustrious members of this tribe was Samson. Shortly after his death "there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel" (Judges 18:1).

The elders of the tribe sent five of their number to spy out the land for their future inheritance. Their travels took them about 170 kilometres north to the Golan Heights where Mt Hermon towers majestically above the surrounding countryside. There they found a town named Laish "and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure" (18:7).

When the five returned to their tribe the elders of the Danites chose six hundred armed men who "came unto Laish, unto a people that were quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burned the city with fire ... And they built a city and dwelt therein, and they called the name of the city Dan ..." (18:27-29).

Some three thousand years later we visited this idyllic spot. Near the Kibbutz Dan were the excavations of the Biblical city of that name. Also nearby was a delightful nature reserve. Of all the beauty spots in Israel, this was perhaps one of the most peaceful. Among the magnificent oaks (reminiscent of the mighty oaks of Bashan of Biblical times) a tributary of the upper Jordan river provided a swimming pool for youngsters whose ancestors, with an eye for beauty, chose this very spot for their inheritance.