Notes from the Commentary of RAMADO (Rabbi Moshe David Walli , 1697-1777 Padua, Italy) on Genesis 48 and Deuteronomy 33.
Dan in some ways was the least of the Tribes. Nevertheless Dan is destined to help inaugurate the reign of the Messiah.
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The name Dan in Hebrew means "Judge", cf.
16 Dan shall judge his people
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way,
A viper by the path,
That bites the horse's heels
So that its rider shall fall backward.
18 I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!
In Hebrew the name Dan is derived from the root DIN meaning judgement.
In Rabbinical Thought we have concepts such as Rachamim (Mercy) versus Din (Judgement). Dan represents severe judgment.
[BAC: This means the Tribe of Dan is liable to have everything meted out to it in what would seem to be a disproportionate manner.
Dan may at times suffer and endure misfortune more than the other Tribes. On the other hand, it also means that individuals from Dan are to often be quite lucky and that Dan in general may be rewarded very well for little effort.
We find Dan mainly in Denmark with elements elsewhere including Wales and Ireland. In this cases, concerning the attribute of judgement, it is the Irish who come to mind more than the others. The expression "Luck of the Irish" is used to mean either exceptionally bad luck or strokes of great good fortune. Both phenomena characterize Dan. They illustrate the concept of DIN (Judgement) in action.]
Simeon also represents judgement but Dan even more so. Simeon is at a higher level whereas Dan relates to more basic considerations.
[BAC: Simeon was scattered throughout all Israel though we found sizeable pockets in Ireland, Wales and Northern Italy. In this case Wales comes to mind. It should be remembered however that the dragon symbol of Wales was one of the signs of Dan.]
Samson was from the Tribe of Dan. Samson was a savior of Israel.
Samson (Judges chapters 13, 14, 15, 16) was chosen from birth. He was to be a kind of Nazirite, never cut his hair, and never drink wine or any other strong drink. He attacked the Philistines who were oppressing Israel. Consequently the Philsitines tried to capture him but at first were unsucessful. Eventually, the Philistines bribed a parmour of Samson named Delilah (possibly herself a Philistine) to turn him over to her. Delilah cut the hair of Samson while he was sleeping and he lost his strength
God had left him. Samson was blinded and put to work by the Philistines grinding corn. At a festival to their god the Philistines took Samson out. They displayed him in their temple and mocked him. Samson prayed for a restoration of his strength and the opportunity to take revenge. He then wrapped himself around a central pillar and brought the building down. This caused many deaths since many Philstines had assembled on the roof.
Samson had Messianic aspects to him. When Jacob was dying he saw Samson in a vision and at first thought him to be the future Messiah. When however Jacob saw how Samson would die he realized that he could not be the Messiah who would bring Redemption.
The death of Samson represents the achievement of salvation through suicidal effort. This is not the ideal and not the form of Messiah we pray for.
The Bible says that the Tribe of Dan was "the rear guard of all the camps" (Numbers 10:25). The word transalted as "rear guard" in Hebrew is "Ma-asef". This may also mean "Gather-Up". Dan was the Gatherer-Up of all the Camps. [Dan has the power to take in rejects and rehabilitate them.]
Dan has aspects of the serpent BUT the Serpent of Dan serves the side of Holiness to overcome the Serpent of Evil. Dan serves as a balance against the forces of adversity.
Dan uses his strength to remove impediments in the pathway.
Dan is like the serpent biting the heel of the horse causing the steed to rear up and cause his rider to fall off.
The Messiah will use the power of Dan.
Moses blessed Dan:
Deuteronomy 33: 22
And of Dan he said:
"Dan is a lion's whelp;
He shall leap from Bashan."
Moses likened Dan to a lion. This was to balance the simile of a snake that Jacob the father of Dan had used for him
Dan will spring forth from Bashan. The word Bashan can signify shame and disgrace (Boshet).
[It also signifies Royalty cf. the name Basil which is the equivalent of Bashan in Mesopotamian dialects.]
The blessing of Moses to Dan (likening him to a lion) equated him with Judah who was also likened unto a lion (Genesis 49:9). Judah was considered the most prestigious of all the Tribes.
In one leap, through the blessing of Moses, Dan went from the lowest and most impure (snake) level to the highest (a lion) in the Animal Kingdom .
Through the power of the Torah, Dan can be redeemed.
So too, Oholiab of Dan worked alongside Betzalel from Judah in building the Tabernacle in the Wilderness.
1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 'See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship...
6 'And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you.
The appointment of Aholiab from Dan alongside Bezalel from Judah, says the Commentator RAMADO, was to show that in the eyes of the Almighty all the Tribes of Israel are equal.