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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