Dan was the son of Jacob and Bilhah (Rachel's maidservant)
and father of the tribe of Dan and one of the twelve
tribes of Israel.
Dan was one of the brothers involved in the plot
to sell his brother Joseph into slavery. Later, Dan's father Jacob sent him to Egypt to buy corn
during the severe famine in Canaan. Dan receives a blessing from Jacob
that "Dan shall judge his people" (Genesis
49:16). Similarly, one explanation of the name Dan is that when
Rachel was convinced that she was unable to have children, she cried
"God has judged me"
(Genesis 30:5). The region
of Dan in the Book of Judges is located in the far north of Canaan and referred to early in Genesis
during Abraham's chasing
of Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:14).
The tribe of Dan also settled in the southern part of the country and
since the tribal territory covered both northern and southern parts
of the country the expression "from Dan to Beer-sheba" indicates
the entire span of the Israelite land.
Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The
New Jewish Encyclopedia, NY: Behrman House, 1976; Navigating
the Bible II