Failure of Dan: Part 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The Israelite tribe of Dan failed to exterminate the pagan inhabitants of their lot.

The Israelite tribe of Dan failed to exterminate the pagan inhabitants of their lot.

Chapter 7
Failure of Dan Judges 1:34-36


34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
35 But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.
36 And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.
34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:

The Israelite tribe of Dan failed to exterminate the pagan inhabitants of their 1lot. The debased Amorites were a gangrenous limb of the human race. After bearing with them for hundreds of years, God decided that the only solution was amputation. In Dan’s lot He committed the surgery to that tribe. But they failed to obey Him.

Here, the name Amorite is synonymous with name Canaanite. The term appears in Assyrian documents as a designation of people from the west (of Mesopotamia).

Finally, the chapter ends with the tragic statement that the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain (hill country) and would not even allow them to come down into the valley; probably that is where the chariots of iron were. Thus, the Danites were driven into the hills for protection and safety, and they rarely made excursions from them. This brings to mind how the ancient Britons were driven into the mountains of Wales by the Romans; and the native Indians driven back into the woods by the British settlers in America. Eventually, the Danites were unable to control any of their territory and were forced to migrate far to the north (ch. 18). It is also interesting to note that Samson, the strongest man, came from Dan, the weakest tribe!

ARTICLE 1.9: DAN (a judge).
1. The fifth son of Jacob, and the first of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. Gen. 30:6. (B.C. after 1753.) The origin of the name is given in the exclamation of Rachel. The records of Dan are unusually meager. Only one son is attributed to him, Gen. 46:23; but his tribe was, with the exception of Judah, the most numerous of all. In the division of the promised land Dan was the last of the tribes to receive his portion, which was the smallest of the twelve. Josh. 19:48. But notwithstanding its smallness it had eminent natural advantages. On the north and east it was completely embraced by its two brother tribes Ephraim and Benjamin, while on the southeast and south it joined Judah, and was thus surrounded by the three most powerful states of the whole confederacy. It was a rich and fertile district; but the Amorites soon “forced them into the mountain,” Judges 1:34, and they had another portion granted them. Judges 18. In the “security” and “quiet,” Judges 18:7, 10, of their rich northern possession the Danites enjoyed the leisure and repose which had been denied them in their original seat. In the time of David Dan still kept its place among the tribes. 1 Chron. 12:35. Asher is omitted, but the “prince of the tribe of Dan” is mentioned in the list of 1 Chron. 27:22. But from this time forward the name as applied to the tribe vanishes; it is kept alive only by the northern city. In the genealogies of 1 Chron. 2-12 Dan is omitted entirely. Lastly, Dan is omitted from the list of those who were sealed by the angel in the vision of St. John. Rev. 7:5-7.
2. The well-known city, as familiar as the most northern landmark of Palestine, in the common expression “from Dan even to Beersheba.” The name of the place was originally LAISH or LESHEM. Josh. 19:47. After the establishment of the Danites at Dan it became the acknowledged extremity of the country. It is now Tell el-Kadi, a mound, three miles from Banias, from the foot of which gushes out one of the largest fountains in the world, the main source of the Jordan.

Article 1.10: AMORITES AM oh rites (Westerners)
— the inhabitants of the land west of the Euphrates River, which included Canaan, Phoènicia, and Syria. The Amorites were one of the major tribes, or national groups, living in Canaan. The Old Testament frequently uses “Amorites” as a synonym for Canaanites in general. The Book of Genesis cites Canaan as the ancestor of the Amorites (Gen. 10:16).

Shortly before 2000 B.C., the Amorites lived in the wilderness regions of what today is western Saudi Arabia and southern Syria. In the court records of ACCAD and SUMER they were known as barbarians, or uncivilized people. Beginning about 2000 B.C., Amorites migrated eastward to Babylonia in large numbers. There they captured major cities and regions from the native Mesopotamians. “Abram” is an Amorite name, and Abraham himself may have been an Amorite.

Throughout Old Testament times, other Amorites remained in Syria, Phoenicia, and the desert regions to the south (Josh. 13:4). A significant number, however, settled in the land of Canaan itself, eventually occupying large areas both east and west of the Jordan River (Judg. 11:19–22). These Amorites spoke a dialect that was closely related to Canaanite and Hebrew. Occasionally, the Amorites were identified as a Canaanite tribe (Gen. 10:16). At other times they were called the people of Canaan (Deut. 1:27).

When Israel invaded Canaan under Joshua, the first Israelite victories came against the Amorite kings Sihon and Og, who ruled much of the Promised Land east of the Jordan River (Josh. 12:1–6). Various cities west of the Jordan—Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon—also were called “Amorite” cities (Josh. 10:5), even though Jerusalem was also known as a Jebusite city.

While conquering Canaan, the Israelites frequently fought with the Amorites. After the Israelites prevailed, the Amorites who had not been killed remained in Canaan and became servants to the Israelites (1 Kin. 9:20–21).

Much of our knowledge about the Amorites and their culture comes from clay tablets discovered at MARI, a major Amorite city situated on the Euphrates River in western Mesopotamia.

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