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Tribe of Dan: Sons of Israel, or of Greek Mercenaries Hired by Egypt?
Samson the Greek? 3,000-year-old archaeological finds at Tel Dan suggest that the Danites were Aegean soldiers hired by Canaan's Egyptian overlords to keep order.
The Tribe of Dan, one of the 12 "Israelite tribes," may have started as no such thing. New archaeological evidence suggests that the Danites originated with mercenaries hired from the Aegean and Syria by the Egyptian overlords of Canaan to keep order.
According to the Bible, after the Israelites conquered Canaan, the land was split between the tribes – with the exception of the tribe of Dan. Bitter at their lot, the tribe went northward, conquered and destroyed the city of Laish (also called Leshem), then rebuilt it and renamed it after their ancestor (Judges 18:1-29).
"And the coast of the children of Dan went out 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).
Tell el-Qadi had been identified previously as the biblical city of Dan. Now recent excavations have uncovered a large neighborhood from the 12-11th century B.C.E. that shows compelling Aegean influences.
The discoveries have rekindled a longstanding academic brawl over the origin of the Danites. Were they really just a tribe of Israel that was left in the cold, found a conveniently isolated city and conquered it? Do they have anything to do with a mysterious kingdom called Danuna mentioned in ancient writing found in Turkey? Or maybe with the Denyen – a faction of invading Sea Peoples, according to ancient Egyptian sources? Or with the Danaoi, one of the Greek tribes? Or are these all one and the same? The findings at Tell el-Qadi (now Tel Dan) suggest they could well be.
The city of Dan was built on a mound near the southern foot of Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain in the Golan Heights. Certainly by the standards of the arid Middle East, the area is lush and fertile, well-watered by natural springs. The city's position was also strategic, smack on a key trading route between Tyre and Damascus.
The first settlement there dates back 7,000 years, to the Neolithic period. Among the earliest mentions of the city are Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts going back nearly 4,000 years, to the 19th century B.C.E. The site remained more or less continuously occupied through to the end of the Roman period
By the Middle Bronze Age, around 2000 B.C.E., it had become a mighty city, surrounded by massive ramparts, called Laish (La-EESH). By the Late Bronze Age, Laish had established sprawling trade connections with the countries and coastal cities throughout the eastern Mediterranean, including Sidon and Tyre to the north, Egypt to the south, and to the west, Cyprus – and Mycenaean Greece.
Laish's ties with the Aegean seem to have been strong as far back as the 14th century B.C.E., as attested by the discovery of a tomb built with rough stones in a style akin to that found in Enkomi, in today's Cyprus, and in Ugarit, on the coast of today's northern Syria.
In the tomb, the archaeologists found more than 100 ceramic vessels that proved, by chemical analysis, to mostly originate in the Argolid in Greece, the center of Mycenaean culture during the Bronze Age.
This was a time in which the Egyptians were expanding northwards. As Canaan became a province of Egypt, Laish became part of their administrative system.
The excavations at Tel Dan began in 1966 under the direction of Avraham Biran and continued until 1999. After a hiatus of several years, Dr. David Ilan of the Hebrew Union College renewed excavating and, based on old material and new findings, he began to suspect that an old theory about Danite origins, first proposed by Michael Astour and Yigal Yadin in the 1960s, might be right, though their idea was at odds with the biblical narrative. Namely, that the Danites didn't begin as a tribe of Israel at all, but originated in the Aegean world.
Among the Aegean influences in the city of Dan, Ilan identified pithoi (large storage vessels) in several of the houses, along with pottery, figurines and ritual items originating in the Aegean, Syria and Egypt.
The finds indicate that the peoples living in Dan were a mixed bunch who brought their eating habits, grooming practices, weapons of choice, and their gods with them to the city.
Among the more tantalizing discoveries was a modest rectangular building containing a small chamber—a holy-of-holies—in the corner. Ilan has identified this as a cultic structure of a type common in the Aegean. Similar buildings have been found in Enkomi and Kition in Cyprus, and at Phylakopi, on the island of Milos in Greece; locally, the same type was found at the Philistine site of Tel Qasile (in Tel Aviv).
Inside the putative sanctuary in Dan were fragments of a ceramic bowl to which a ceramic bird's head was attached, called a “bird bowl”. A similar find was made at Tel Qasile (this is a good point to note that the Philistines who lived there are also thought by some to be of Aegean origin).
The excavators at Dan also found vessels decorated with Aegean-style birds, chalices, offering bowls, a model silo, and curious brain-shaped stones that may have been used in ritual.
Ilan postulates that these Aegean-style artifacts in Dan suggest the presence of worshippers hailing from the Aegean—perhaps the Denyen, Danuna (or Danaoi in Greek), in short, one of the ancient Greek tribes. The Denyen/Danuna were also one of the so-called "Sea Peoples" of Aegean origin who invaded Egypt, as described in Ramesses III´s mortuary temple relief (1175 B.C.E.).
Surrounding the putative cultic structure, the excavators uncovered an industrial area featuring furnaces, crucibles, blowpipe nozzles, scrap metal, and slag from bronze smelting.
“We found all kinds of broken objects from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages that they melted and recast into new bronze objects, tools and weapons,” Ilan says. “They were scavengers and recyclers who were desperate for metal. These were crisis years.”
Whether or not the Danites of ancient Israel originated in a Sea People will take more proving. Meanwhile, we can say that a slab carved in Luwian script from the 8th century B.C.E., some 2800 years ago, discovered in southern Turkey, attests to the existence of a Danunian Kingdom.
Elsewhere, in a letter found in the El-Amarna archives (written to Pharaoh Amenhotep IV), the king of the Phoenician city of Tyre mentions a country called Danuna.
Given the indications of very strong cultural ties between Dan and the Aegean world, Ilan believes that Michael Astour and Yigal Yadin were correct: the people of Dan originated, at least in part, with the Denyen/Danuna/Danaoi of the Aegean coastal region, probably in the coastal region where Turkey and Syria meet today.
“The most famous Danite in the Bible is Samson, a quite essential archetype of a Greek hero: He is very strong, his power resides in his long hair, he tells riddles and he hangs out with Philistine women,” Ilan points out.
Yet more oblique evidence may be found in the song of Deborah, describing the tribes' various roles: “And Dan, why did he stay with the ships,” (Judges 5:17). Dan was apparently the only Israelite tribe that had ships, and was conspicuously absent from giving support to Barak against the forces of Sisera. The writer of Judges seems to hint that the Danites originated elsewhere and were different from the other tribes.
The Tribe of Dan
Present Day Identifications
<< And the sons of Dan; Hushim>> Genesis 46; 23. "Hushim" was also known as "Shuham".
Groups derived from Dan were historically somehow linked with the Gothic forces that descended mainly from Gad. Danites were also found together with the Nephtalites of Naphtali .
In Biblical Times the Tribe of Dan had been divided into three (or more) different sections. One section had been in the northern Galilee (Joshua 19; 42) and neighbored Gad. Later part of this section moved with other Israelites to Scythia. The Damnae in Serica (east of Scythia), were also called "Dingling" and were linked to the "DANGALAI" whose name means "DAN-OF-GALILEE". They had been neighbors of the Goths (from Gad) of Gadrosia in Ancient Eastern Iran. The DAMNAE of Scythian Serica were named similarly to the DAMNONII of Scotland (who lived besides the northern River DON of Scotland) and the DAMNONES of DANNONIA which was the name given to Devon and Cornwall. DANNONIA in Britain was named after the Tribe of DAN. The Tribe of Dan was recalled in the Children of DON in Welsh legend and the Tribe of DANA ("Tuatha de Danaan:) who came to the British Isles (according to Irish tradition) from the Land of Israel via Greece and Scandinavia. The area Damnonia in southern Britain as well as being alternatively called Dannonia was also known as "Defenia". The name "DEFENIA" is similar to that of DAPHNIA which was the former place of DAN in the Galilee in the Land of Northern Israel. "Daphne" (i.e. "Defenia") is also a name associated by the Talmud with the Lost Ten Tribes.
In Scotland the Damnonii (of Dan) adjoined the Gadeni probably of Gad. Somewhat to the south (in Northern England) according to Ptolemy was the city of Danum which area was later to be occupied by Danes from Denmark. In this case we see the possibility of a group of Celtic culture descended from Dan who gave their name to the city of Danum being followed by Scandinavians who were also descended from Dan and settling in the same area. We have come across similar phenomenon several times in this study.
The Danes and the Norwegians formed the Vikings who invaded England. The Danes settled in the northeast of England and the Norwegians in the northwest. They also conquered and settled in Ireland and in parts of Scotland.
Historians' reviews of the historical record have not been able to determine why the Vikings built settlements in England. It was no small feat to build new communities and homes without a Home Advisor to consult so far away from the homeland. It is difficult to imagine today since relocating your family is relatively easy with Home Advisor Reviews of builders and most homes have been examined by a Home Advisor for safety.
Danes from the Israelite Tribe of Dan invaded Denmark at about the same time as the Naphtali moved in large numbers into Norway. The Tribe of Dan was represented by a snake or by a lion. Other accepted symbols of Dan were a pair of scales, an eagle, and a dragon. Many members of Dan settled in Denmark, in Ireland, in Wales, England, and the U.S.A. where 40-50 million people have Irish ancestry. The symbol of a snake was once worshipped in Ireland; a lion represents Denmark and England, Wales has a dragon on its flag, and the U.S.A. has an eagle.
The Son of DAN, "Hushim" (Genesis 46;23) was also called Shuham (Numbers 26;42). Hesse in north Germany represented Hushim. Shuham may be found in the "Suehani" who, according to Jordanes, were in Sweden like the Danes themselves are considered to have been.
The Coat of Arms of Iceland includes: A dragon, which was one of the symbols of Dan. A vulture, which in Hebrew is given the same name as eagle, i.e. "Nesher", and a "nesher" was another one of the symbols of Dan. A bull which is a symbol of Joseph; a Giant, which figure may represent DAN and Samson the national hero of DAN. Iceland historically has been associated with Norway and Denmark in which countries (especially Denmark) the Tribe of Dan made a significant contribution.
DAN: Don, Danaster, Danaper, Danube.
Ireland has a harp on its Coat of Arms. The harp is traditionally associated with King David of Judah and Israel.
Samson and the Jutes
Judah is the major tribe amongst the Jews. The Jews on the whole were not exiled by the Assyrians but very many were, as evidenced by inscriptions of Sennacherib, Biblical hints, and Midrashic opinion. In addition enclaves of Jews from Judah existed amongst the northern Ten Tribes who were taken away and at other times bodies of exiled Judaeans may have merged with the Lost Tribes as autonomous groups.
In the Land of Israel the Tribe of Dan in the south bordered Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah. The Danes had another section of their tribe in the northern Galilee surrounded by Asher, Naphtali, Gad, and the half-tribe of Menasseh. That portion of Menasseh adjoining Dan in the North on its eastern side was dominated by Gilead and within Gilead (who was the son of Machir son of Menasseh) was a band from JUDAH headed by YAIR ("Jair" in 1-Chronicles 2; 18-23). These Judaeans in Gilead of Machir are believed to have bordered Dan and to be those named "Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising" in the Book of Joshua (19;34). Thus, Dan and Judah were neighbors in north and south Israel. In Jewish tradition Judah and Dan are often juxtapositioned. Samson the superman hero came from the Tribe of Dan but his mother was from Judah. Samson, in some respects, was considered a forerunner of the Messiah who will come from Judah but his mother, according to the Midrash (Gen. Rab. 49; 9) will be of the Tribe of Dan. A lion represented both Judah and Dan, though Dan has additional symbols such as the snake and dragon.
In Cilicia (southeast Turkey) there existed from ancient times an enclave of people named "Dananu" who were from Dan of Israel. The entity of the Dananu was known as "Smal" and as YADI and eventually was ruled directly from JUDAH in the south. Biblical evidence and the said toponomy suggest that Judaeans had adjoined their Danite brothers in YADI of Cilicia. YADI was later called Yutae both names being forms of Judah. After the Ten Tribes had been exiled, the Yaati (Utii) were to be found in Carmania (southwest Iran) bordering the Dangalae whose name implies "Dan-of-the Galilee". Similarly in Sogdiana east of the Caspian Sea the IATII (i.e. Yati of Judah) were recorded by Ptolemy neighboring the Augali (called "Aegli" by Herodotus) from whom descended the Angles. They were in Saka territory and the Saka (or SAXE as they were known) became the Saxons. Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were together in the invasion of England. A Danish tradition relates that the DANES came from DAN of Israel and the JUTES (of Jutland in Denmark) from Judah. In Northern European dialects and in Latin, variations on the names JUTE (of Denmark) and JUDAEAN (Jew from Judah) are interchangeable.
In Europe, a group called the "Saxons Euthiones" were recalled (in about 600 c.e.) as lying between Saxons and Danes in the north. These are believed to have been a section of Jutes in the region of Frisia in Holland. This form of the name (i.e. "Euthiones" for Jutes) seems to have occurred in the version of "Euthymachos" who together with figures named "Toxamis" and "Kimerios" were depicted on an ancient vase discovered in Italy. The said illustration is that of Scythians who at an early age began their incursions into Europe. The name "Kimmerios" means Cimmerian, and TOXAMIS is a variation of Toxaris who was a Scythian hero in Classical Literature. Later, the region of Holland (where Pytheas reported the presence of Scyths from ca.300 b.c.e.) was to be known as Toxandria and a Tribe of Belgae was to be named TOXANDRI.
Today Dan is dominant in Denmark, important in Ireland and Wales, and is also present amongst the population of the USA.
Arianrhod - Tribe of Dan
Arianrhod (Welsh pronunciation: [arˈjanr̥ɔd]) is a figure in Welsh mythology who plays her most important role in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi. She is the daughter of Dôn and the sister of Gwydion and Gilfaethwy; the Welsh Triads give her father as Beli Mawr. In the Mabinogi her uncle Math ap Mathonwy is the King of Gwynedd, and during the course of the story she gives birth to two sons, Dylan ail Don and Lleu Llaw Gyffes, through magical means.
Dôn (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈdoːn]) is an ancestor figure in Welsh legend and literature. She is typically given as the mother of a group known as the "Children of Dôn", including Gwydion, Arianrhod, and Gilfaethwy, among many others. However, antiquarians of the early modern era generally considered Dôn a male figure.
Danites - Tribe of Dan
Tribe of Dan - Kundalini
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This is a work in progress. Please send corrections, suggestions and faceplates to: noeticacademydanel AT gmail.com