Revelation 7 lists twelve tribes from each of which came 12,000 people. However, they are not identical to the usual twelve tribes (the sons of Jacob) listed in the Old Testament. In the Revelation list, the tribe of Dan is omitted, and to make up the numbers, Manasseh is included along with Joseph. This has puzzled Bible readers for centuries and we can only speculate about the reason. The most common suggestion is that Dan was associated with idolatry and rebellion, and so was excluded from the list of tribes.

The tribe of Dan despised its inheritance, complaining that it had not received one. In fact, the people of Dan had failed to take possession of what they had been given (Joshua 19:40-48; Judges 1:34-36). Instead, they took possession of some other land that they fancied (Judges 18), taking an idol to bless them on the campaign (Judges 18:30). They continued to be associated with idolatry and one of the golden calves was set up in the main city of Dan (1 Kings 12:29).

There is also a curious passage in Jeremiah 8:16:

​​​​​​​​“The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;
at the sound of the neighing of their stallions
the whole land quakes.
They come and devour the land and all that fills it,
the city and those who dwell in it.

As a result of this passage, Jewish Rabbis believed that Antichrist was to spring from Dan. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-236) wrote (Concerning Antichrist 14): “As the Christ was born from the tribe of Judah, so will the Antichrist be born from the tribe of Dan.” Irenæus (Adversus Hæreses v.302) and other early Christian writers attest to the same tradition. While this is unlikely to be the true meaning of Jeremiah 8:16, the tradition shows that Dan was still considered a source of evil during the early centuries of Christianity.

It is also noteworthy that Dan is omitted from the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 4-8.

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2 Responses to Why is the tribe of Dan missing in Revelation 7?

  1. Henaynei says:

    Dear Mr. Hyndman,
    Please give reference amd source for statement: “Jewish rabbis believed the anti-christ was to spring from Dan.”
    Thank you

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