Bible Meaning: A judge
Strong's Concordance #H1835
Dan is the name of Jacob's (Israel's) fifth son out of twelve he produced. He is his firstborn son, however, through Rachel's maid Bilhah (Genesis 30:6). The only other son he had through Bilhah, and Dan's only full brother, was Naphtali (verses 7 - 8).
Dan was one of thirteen Israelites tribes that left Egyptian slavery, under Moses, for the Promised Land of Canaan. When they finally entered the land forty years later they had amassed 64,400 men, aged twenty and above, who could go to war (Numbers 26:42 - 43). Their tribal size was second only to Judah, who could muster 76,500 fighting men (Numbers 26:22).
A new home
The tribe of Dan, who received land populated by the powerful Amorites (Judges 1:33) and close to the war-like Philistines, were unable to fully secure their inheritance.
In desperate need for more territory, the tribe decided to attack the northern city of Leshem (Joshua 19:47), which was also called Laish (Judges 18:7). The name Leshem means "precious stone" (Strong's #H3959) while Laish means "lion" (Strong's #H3919).
The city the Danites want, however, is in the territory given to the tribe of Naphtali. As Dan was the older brother of Naphtali, the tribe likely felt their incursion would be tolerated and free from any reprisals by their younger brother's descendants. After slaughtering the city's inhabitants, they rename the town in honor of the tribe's founder. The city is soon used as an Old Testament reference to designate the northern-most point of Israel.
In 930 B.C., Israel splits into two separate nations. The new Kingdom of Israel (the northern ten tribes), and its new King Jeroboam, considers Dan to be an important spiritual and strategic location. The city is fortified as a border fortress and has idols representing Yahweh placed within in to discourage visits to Jerusalem.
Dan's isolated location makes it vulnerable to attacks (see 1Kings 15:20). The city is one of the first areas conquered by the Assyrian Empire when the people in the land are taken into captivity (2Kings 15:29).
Dan, for reasons discussed in a separate article on Biblestudy.org, is the only Israelite tribe not listed in Revelation 7.
Genesis 30:5 - 6
And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.
And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali
Tribal name / City
Genesis 49:16 - 17
Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
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 . . .
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
1Kings 12:28 - 29
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.
They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.