"Into the Mystic: The Quest for the Tribe of Dan" by Dr. Richard Griffith (5 January 2016, 24 Tevet, 5776)
Powerful evidence for the existence of the Lost Tribes of Israel in Europe and the validity for the search of the Lost Tribes can be found with the tribe of Dan. God may well have intended that the tribe of Dan be associated with a serpent motif and leave a signature trail to follow. This information although recognized has been under-utilized even though a plethora of evidence can be found in the historical record.
The serpent motif can be seen in the serpent art style of the Danish Vikings as they traveled across the oceans in their serpent decorated long ships (serpents on the side with a dragon head), and as they left runic stones with a serpent carved on the stone surface with their message in the interior of the carved serpent. The propensity of the tribe to name places after their father Dan (Judges 18:28-29) may be seen in a trail of place names across Europe culminating in an entire nation named after Dan. Even the battle cry "ODIN" as Viking warriors hurled themselves off cliffs, and that has been dramatically recreated in Hollywood epics relates back to this prophecy.
There is more though, however, to the prophecy of the tribe of Dan and their characteristics that provide startling clues and evidence that the lost tribes are not a just a myth. The tribe of Dan is not only connected with the Vikings, but also with the people of Ireland.
The prophecy in Genesis 49:16-17 connects the tribe of Dan with a particular form of fighting, a serpent although small that bites the horse's heels and that causes the rider to tumble backwards. The beginning part of the prophecy also specifically references the administration of justice. These other parts of the prophecy have been ignored, but they can be combined with tantalizing clues in the descriptions of this tribe in Judges.
A solid academic article on the tribe of Dan was authored by Frank Anthony Spina in the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, "The Dan Story Historically Reconsidered", provides important new details on two Hebrew words used to describe the tribe of Dan in the book of Judges: lahas and mar nepes.
In Judges the tribe of Dan is depicted as being under intense pressure from the Amorites/Philistines. The Hebrew word lahas [Modern Hebrew: "Lachats" with the "ch" sounded similarly to "h"] is used to describe this pressure. "The meaning of lahas in Judges 1:34 brings to light the nature of Dan's conflict. Literally the word means "squeeze" or "press" but it came to have the word derived sense of "oppress." It is therefore not surprising that lahas is found most often in Judges, a book which at its thematic center continual oppression from Israel's enemies...."
Spina notes further that lahas is used to describe the oppression in Egypt and from Amalek among others and politically induced flight: "And Judges 10:12 uses lahas in reference to the oppression of Sidon, Amaleq and Maon. Thus, on the basis of the usage in this block of material, lahas denotes politically induced pressure which requires either the appointment of a sopet [Modern Hebrew: "Shophet" meaning "Judge", "ruler"] , or, as in Dan's case flight... Dan is not the aggressor; the tribe was simply unable to ward off indefinitely the aggression of the military aristocracy(ies) which controlled the Philistine state. At that point Dan had only one option: flight."
The mood of the tribe in response to this oppression and flight will as Spina describes not be a passive one but is captured in another word mar nepes [Modern Hebrew: "Mar Nefesh" meaning "bitter of spirit"]. Mar nepes as Spina notes is most often connected with bitterness, complaint or lament but a more nuanced rendering connects the word not just with complaint but also with a wild fighting response to economic or political oppression.
Spina in reference to this nuanced connotation observes the use of mar nepes to describe the men who joined with David when he fled from Saul in the wilderness. "I Samuel 22:2 is instructive. There the term describes the gang of men who attached themselves to David when he was forced to flee from Saul. The text describes David's entourage as follows: And everyone in distress and everyone who had a creditor and everyone who was mar nepes ["disaffected"?] gathered to him. These were people about to live the life of fugitives or outlaws because of economic or political difficulties."
How does this relate to the future of the tribe of Dan and to Ireland? Irish legendary history connects the Irish people with the tribe of Dan. Do we see perhaps a prophecy of the future of the tribe of Dan captured in Judges and prophesied in Genesis in the history of Ireland and among the Irish diaspora? Do we see a combination of oppression, political flight, a particular form of warfare against more powerful foes, and a lament/quest/association with justice as underlying national themes?
The people of Ireland have indeed experienced tremendous economic and political oppression at the hands of the English aristocracy and their response was not a passive one! The Irish would indeed flee Ireland and engage in a quest of justice for their homeland and also for oppressed peoples.
The Irish soldiers,"Wild Geese", that fled Ireland for centuries would distinguish themselves in the American Revolution and Civil War, and also in wars of national liberation around the globe. At home the Irish would engage in a centuries long guerrilla warfare culminating in the 1916 uprising, a fulfillment perhaps of the prophecy of the manner of warfare employed by the tribe of Dan, with the Irish biting at the heels of the British empire. The Irish also would be known for their quest and involvement in the administration of justice. In the United States and abroad the Irish would be overly represented in the legal profession, police forces, unions, and civil rights movements.
If the above is correct then it is time for modern researchers to renew this quest and to highlight these remarkable possible connections. The serpent's trail lends itself to visual depiction and the quest for national justice on the part of Dan to the oppression so many have experienced in this world. The last part of the prophecy for Dan echoes a cry made by many peoples in this world. "I look for your deliverance, O Lord."
Gallagher, Thomas. Paddy's Lament, Ireland 1846-1847, Prelude to Hatred. Harcourt Brace & Company, San Diego.
Jones, Gwyn (1968). A History of the Vikings. Oxford University Press, NY.
Sowell, Thomas (1983). The Economics and Politics of Race. Quill, NY.
Spina, Frank (1977). "The Dan Story Historically Reconsidered," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 4: 60-71.