Glimpses of Israel - Dan

by Joseph Hunting

Israel is a country with interesting contrasts. It can have sub-zero temperatures accompanied by snow in the highlands during winter, and at the same time places like Eilat, Jericho and areas round the Sea of Galilee can enjoy a mild or even a sub-tropical climate.

Similarly the geography of Israel offers a variety of contrasts. In Bible times the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" outlined the northern and southern boundaries of the Promised Land. The southern area known as the Negev is mostly arid and desert with a scanty annual rainfall. On the other hand Dan is located at Israel's northern extremity in a lush well-watered locality.

During the allocation of the tribes under the leadership of Joshua Dan was located in an area mid-way between Jerusalem and Joppa. The area is described in detail when one reads of the exploits of Samson whose home town was Zorah. But the Bible also sheds light on the reason for events that took place in those days for "In those days there was no king of Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). "And the coast of the children of Dan was too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father" (Joshua 19:47). ( "However the name of the city was Laish at the first" Judges 18:29).

Two thousand eight hundred years later the ancient city of Dan has been excavated to reveal a magnificent gateway, and a well-equipped museum portrays artifacts which were a part of the daily life pattern of the city's inhabitants.

The river Jordan rises at Dan, and the surrounding parklands with their natural beauty could be the reason why the Danites chose this delightful spot for their inheritance.