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

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

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.

The Amorites were considered “westerners” by the Akkadians. They were Semitic desert invaders who arrived in Palestine around 2000 B.C. The Canaanite dialect became a local derivation of the Amorite dialect; and most of the cultural development of the Canaanites was undoubtedly borrowed from the Amorites, who were the previous settlers of the Fertile Crescent. From their capital at Mari at one time they controlled extensive territory in the northern Mesopotamian Valley.

Some of the Amorite cities in the mountains successfully resisted a takeover by Israel. However, they were eventually forced to leave; they gathered their possessions, and were forced to seek for more room at Laish, a city that was a great way off; see 2Jg. 18:1. In Jacob’s blessing, Judah is compared to a lion, Dan to a serpent; now observe how Judah with his lion-like courage prospered and prevailed, but Dan with all his serpenting subtlety could get no ground; craft and artful management do not always bring about the wonders they pretend to. What Dan came short of doing, it seems his neighbors the Ephraimites in part did for him; they put the Amorites under tribute.

The Amorites would dwell in *Mount Heres—perhaps they agreed to dwell in the mountainous country, because they were unable to sustain themselves on the plain, and yet were so powerful that the Danites could not totally expel them; they were, however, forced to pay tribute, and thus the house of Joseph would rule over them. The Septuagint has sought out a literal meaning for the names of several of these places, and they render the verse thus: "And the Amorites began to dwell in the mount of Tiles, in which there are bears, and in which there are foxes." Three of the Amorite towns were Heres, **Aijalon, and Shaalbim.

*MOUNT HERES HE reez (mountain of the sun) — a mountain near Aijalon and Shaalbim on the border between Judah and Dan.
**AIJALON A juh lon (place of deer) — the name of two cities in Israel:
1. A city in the Shephelah, the lowlands west of Jerusalem. It belonged to the tribe of Dan (Josh. 19:42) and was assigned to the Kohathite Levites. The area surrounding Aijalon was the scene of the famous battle between Joshua and the five Amorite kings. This was the battle where Joshua made the sun stand still, while the Israelites destroyed their enemies 3(Jos. 10:12–14 ). After the ten tribes seceded to form the northern kingdom of Israel, Aijalon was fortified by Rehoboam 4(1 Chr. 8:13 ; 52 Chr. 11:10). In the days of King Ahaz, the city was captured by the Philistines 6(2 Chr. 28:18).
Aijalon is identified with Yalo, a village situated about 23 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of Jerusalem (Josh. 10:122; 19:42; 2 Chr. 28:185; Ajalon, KJV).
2. A site “in the country of Zebulun” where Elon the judge was buried 7(Jg. 12:12 ).

SHAALABBIN shay AHL uh bin — an Amo-rite city in the territory of Dan 8(Jos. 19:42 ), also called Shaalbim. The Amorites did not give up this city until long after the Israelites had settled the area. Shaalabbin was about 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Jerusalem.

36 And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to 9Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.

Concerning the matter of expelling the Canaanites from the Promised Land to make room for themselves it appears that the people of Israel were generally very careless both of their duty and interest in getting it done; they did not do what they should have done. I can give four reasons for why they did not get it done:
1. It was on account of their slothfulness and cowardice. They would not put themselves through the struggle and perhaps the pain necessary to complete their conquests.
2. It was owing to their covetousness; the Canaanites’ labor and money would do them more good (so they thought) than their blood, and therefore they were willing to let them live among them, so that they might make a good use of them.
3. They did

not have that dread and loathing for idolatry which they ought to have had; they thought it a pity to put these Canaanites to the sword, though the measure of their iniquity was full,they thought it would do them no harm to let them live among them, and that they would be in no danger from them.
4. The same thing that kept their fathers out of Canaan for forty years kept them from taking full possession of it, and that was unbelief. Distrust of the power and promises of God lost them their advantages, and ran them into a thousand troubles.

General Notes

1lot: The territory assigned to the tribe of Dan; their portion of the Promissed land.
2(Jg. 18.1) “In those days 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.” This chapter begins by noting that there was no king in Israel, reminding us that much of the spiritual and political confusion of this time was due to a lack of unified leadership in the nation. According to Numbers 26:43, the tribe of Dan had sixty-four thousand men. However, they were still unable to occupy the territory that was allotted to them because of the oppression of the Amorites and the Philistines. It should be remembered that the Samson narrative also relates to the tribe of Dan. Samson, the strongest man, came from Dan, the weakest tribe! The difficulties in the conquest and settlement of the land had caused a lack of precision regarding intertribal boundaries.
3(Jos. 10:12–14) “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.”
4(1 Chr. 8:13) “Beriah also, and Shema, who were heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove away the inhabitants of Gath:”
5(2 Chr. 11:10) “And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.”
6(2 Chr. 28:18) “The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Bethshemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there.”
7(Jg. 12:12) “And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.”
8(Jos. 19:42) “And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah”
9AKRABBIM, ASCENT OF ack RAB im (scorpions) — an ascending slope and mountain pass located on the southeast border of Judah near the Dead Sea and the Wilderness of Zin 10(Num. 34:4 ). As its name implies, this area abounded in scorpions. Its Greek name was Akrabattene.
10(Num. 34:4) “And your border shall turn from the south to the 11ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon:”
11AKRAB´BIM (the ascent of, or the going up to); also MAALEH-ACRABBIM (the scorpion pass), a pass between the south end of the Dead Sea and Zin, forming one of the landmarks on the south boundary of Judah, 12Jos. 15:3, and of the Holy Land, Num. 34:48. Also the boundary of the Amorites. As for the name, scorpions abound throughout the entire region
12(Jos. 15:3) “And it went out to the south side to Maalehacrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side unto Kadeshbarnea, and passed along to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and fetched a compass to Karkaa:”

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