DAN -- THE SERPENT'S TRAIL
The question naturally arises, "How did the prince, the highest branch of the cedar of Lebanon, get to the isles of the sea?" To get to the bottom of that which is involved in the reply to this question we will need to understand some of the characteristics, and acquaint ourselves with some of the prophecies, which pertain to the tribe of Dan.
The prophecies which dying Jacob gave concerning what the posterity of each of his sons was to become in the last days, is recorded in the forty-ninth chapter of Genesis. In the seventeenth verse is a part of the prophecy concerning the tribe of Dan, the first clause of which, according to the King James' translation, reads as follows: "Dan shall be a serpent by the way." But a better translation is as follows: "Dan shall be a serpent's trail." A few points in the history of the children of Dan will show us how they became a serpent's trail.
In the division of the land by lot, a narrow strip of seacoast country, west of Ephraim and Benjamin, fell to Dan. But this country soon became too small for the tribe, as we are told in the following: "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).
Concerning the Danites, we have also the following: "And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorab and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war. And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah; wherefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan unto this day," (Judges 18:11-12).
Again we are told concerning this same company of six hundred that they came to Laish, "A people that were at quiet and secure; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.... And they built a city and dwelt therein. And they called the name of the city DAN, after the name of Dan, their father, who was born unto Israel; howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first," (Judges 18:29).
A company of Danites went to Leshem, and it became Dan. A company of Danites went to Kirjathjearim, and it became Mahaneh-Dan. They went on to Laish, and it ceased to exist, but they left their trail, i.e., DAN, the name of their father, and thus their trail can be traced, not only from Dan to Beer-Sheba, but to the islands of the sea both by land and by water, for Dan had an inland country and a coast country. The inland company of Danites went west with the Overland Column, and the coast company went by water, for "Dan abode in his ships."
Thus we have the prophecy concerning the ships of Tarshish, i.e., the ends of the world: "Be still (margin: silent) ye inhabitants of the isles; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished," (Isa. 23:2). Also, in the sixth verse, is the following: "Pass ye over to Tarshish: howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. Is this your joyous city [Tyre] whose antiquity is of ancient days? Her own feet [means of travel] shall carry her afar off to sojourn."
In these scriptures we are informed that the isles of the sea were replenished by the ships whose seaports were Tyre and Zidon, which were ports of Palestine. Also the people by whom the islands were replenished, or peopled, are commanded to keep silent; just as this same prophet, in another place, commands Israel in the island to keep silent until they should renew their strength.
When Shalmanesar descended upon Israel, he did not disturb those portions of the tribes of Dan and Simeon, which were dwelling on the southwest coast of Palestine, for the kingdom of Judah was then at peace with Assyria and lay between them and Samaria. However, both Dan and Simeon had large colonies in the interior, Dan in the north (Judges 18) and Simeon in the east, at Mount Sier, the region formerly occupied by the Amelekites (I Chron. 4:42-43). These portions of Dan and Simeon went with the rest of Samaria-Israel into Assyria, and with them passed out through the Caucasian Pass. The territory into and through which the ten tribes made their escape was just north of the Caucasus, which in ancient geography, as may be seen by consulting ancient maps, was known as the territory of the Sarmatians, while the pass, or gate, was sometimes called "The Sarmatian Gate." Not a few have shown, and upon good grounds, that the name of Sarmatia was derived from Samaria, the earlier home of these wandering people, whose general name among themselves was Scoloti, but whom the Greeks called Scythians, or Nomades. From that word Scoloti we have the more modern name Scoti, and the still more modern Scots, which, of course, mean the same as the Greek, Scythia and Nomades, i.e., wanderers.
But this is only one of the many names by which these wanderers, or Scots, may be traced, for in their western march across the European continent, which was necessarily slow, Ephraim did obey the prophetic injunction, "Set thee up waymarks," (Jer. 31:21). And just here we must keep in mind the fact that in the ancient Hebrew there are no written vowels, and that in the word Dan there are only two letters used which are equivalent to the English D and N. Hence it makes no difference if the word is Dan, Don, Dun, Din or Den, it is equal to the Hebrew D-n, in which the speaker sounds the vowel according to characteristics of his own dialect.
On the west side of the Black Sea, there is, according to ancient geography, a region which was called "Moesia," signifying the land of the Moses-ites, and the people of which were called Moesi, or Mosesites. These people had such great reverence for a person whom they called Zal-moxis, whom Herodotus, the father of history, supposed to be their God, and concerning whom he concludes his account as follows: “Zalmoxis must have lived many years before Pythagoras; whether therefore he was a man ot a deity of the Getae, enough has been said of him." T. R. Howlett says, "Zalmoxis, whom Herodotus supposed them to worship as a god, is without doubt Moses; Zal signifying "chief," or "leader," while Moxis and Aloses are but the Greek for the Hebrew Mosie, which is also rendered Moses in our tongue.
Moesia was bounded on the south by Mace-Don-ia and the Dar-DAN-ells, and on the north by the river DAN-ube. In the territory of Sarmatia, which in some maps is Scythia, in others Gomer, there are the rivers D-n-iper, D-n-ister, and the DON. The fact that the Dnieper and the Dniester are written without a vowel between the D and the N is quite as significant as the fact that the Don has one.
Professor Totten says: "There is no grander theme upon the scrolls of history than the story of this struggle of the Anglo-Saxons westward. The very streams of Europe mark their resting-places, and in the root of nearly all their ancient names (Dan, or Don) recall the sacred stream, Jor-dan -- river of rest -- from whose banks, so far away, as exiles, they set out. It was either the little colony of Dan, obeying its tribal proclivity for naming everything it captured (Jud. 18:1-12-29) after their father, or else the mere survival of a word and custom; but, none the less, it serves to trace these wanderers like a trail. Hence the Dan-ube, the Dan-ieper, the Dan-iester, the Dan-au, the Dan-inn. the Dan-aster, the Dan-dan, the Dan-ez, the Daci and Davi, the Dan, the Don, the U-don the Eri-don, and the thousand other dans and dons of ancient and early geography, down to the Danes in Dan-emerke, or "Dan's last resting place." To this we would add, that, during all these years of blindness concerning the birthright tribes, the people of Den-mark have been called DAN-es, and that the people in contiguous countries, while having different local names, have been called by the same generic name, i.e., Scan-DIN-navia. Also that Denmark, the modern form of Danemerke, means "Dan's mark," that too, to the people of the lost birthright. The very people who have hunted most for the way-marks which God told them to set up.
All that Scandinavian country, and much more, once belonged to Denmark, which is now reduced to a comparatively small region. Yet we believe that little kingdom will stand until the end of this age. When dying Jacob called his sons together about him that he might tell them what their posterity should become in the last days, he began his prophecy concerning Dan as follows: "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel." Then, immediately following, is the expression, "Dan shall be a serpent by the way." (Isaac Leeser's translation.)
In this prophecy Jacob does not say, as many seem to think, that Dan in the last days shall become the ruler of the other tribes of Israel; for the Eternal One has said, "Judah is my law giver." But what Jacob does say is, that Dan as one of the tribes of Israel shall render a verdict, or judge his people Israel. How? Because he shall, like a serpent, leave his mark or trail, that Israel may find it in the last days, and that they may say, "There is one of the lost tribes of Israel." When this verdict has been rendered, then Dan will have judged his people Israel. It may be that the word Israel, as used in the prophecy above, is used in its broadest sense, and includes both the house of Israel and the house of Judah. We are inclined to this opinion, for reasons which follow:
When Dan was born, Rachel said: "God hath judged me, and bath also heard my voice, and bath given me a son; therefore she called his name Dan." The word in Hebrew means "Judge," and Daniel means "The judge of God." Thus Dan "judge," and El "God," hence Daniel, the judge of God. Thus Jacob in his last day's prophecy concerning the tribe of Dan plays on their tribal name, and says the judge shall judge, or, in other words, that Dan shall Dan. What? Dan shall Dan! Yes; and he certainly has Dan-ed, and Dan-ed, and Dan-ed, and kept on Dan-ing until he has given abundant evidence to his people that he is one of the tribes of Israel, for they now see the mark of his trail, i.e., DAN.
It is now more than two hundred and fifty years since a Danish peasant, who, with his daughter, was following their plow in their native country. when the daughter's plow turned up a bright and glittering something, which upon examination proved to be a golden trumpet. It was taken to the authorities, and, beyond all doubt, identified as one of the SEVEN Golden Trumpets used in the altar service of the temple at Jerusalem. This trumpet, which is now in the National Museum at Copenhagen, is ornamented with a lily and pomegranate the lily being the national flower of Egypt, and the pomegranate that of Palestine -- thus showing the half Egyptian and half Israelitish origin of the birthright nation of which the tribe of Dan was a part.
Just before Moses died, he, like Jacob, gave prophecies concerning each tribe in Israel, and of Dan he said: "Dan is a lion's whelp; he shall leap from Bashan." Bashan was on Palestinean territory, hence Dan is to leap from that country, but it is left for history to tell where that leap landed him. And it is a well-authenticated fact that, after the coast colonies of Dan and Simeon knew that their king and their brethren were defeated, then they embarked in their ships and fled to the islands of the sea which are to the northwest of Europe. For the people who are known by all historians to have been the first settlers of Ireland are called "Tuatha de Danaans," which literally means "The tribe of Dan." These Danaans of Ireland correspond to the Danaoi of the Greeks, and Latin Danas, and the Hebrew Dan.
The Lord, by the mouth of the Psalmist, declares that "He breaketh [or driveth] the ships of Tarshish with an east wind." As these Si-don-ians from the port of Si-don are driven, like Ephraim, WEST by an east wind, they not only leave their trail along the shores of the Mediterranean in Dens, Dins and Dons, but on the Peninsula of Spain. Just before passing out through the strait into the great waters they left a mark that remains unto this day, i.e., Me-din-a Sidon-ia.
That Dan's leap landed him in Ireland is evident, for in that island we find to this day Dans-Lough, Dan-Sower, Dan-Monism, Dun-dalke, Dun-drum, Don-egal Bay and Don-e-gal City, with Dun-glow and Lon-don-derry just north of them. But there is also Din-gle, Dun-garven and Duns-more, which means "More Dan's." And, really, there are so many more that we have no space for them, except to mention Dangan Castle, where the Duke of Wellington was born, and to say that Dunn in the Irish language means just what Dan means in the Hebrew, i.e., a judge.
It is remarkable that there is not only a river Don in Scotland, but also a river Doon, and that there is also a river Don in England. Also that these countries are as full of Dans, Dons and Duns as Ireland, for in them are not only such names as Dundee, Dunkirk, Danbar, Dunraven, and many others, but the name of DAN, the son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, lies buried in the name of their capital cities, i.e., E-DAN-burgh and Lon-don. Surely Dan hath Dan-ed, or judged among his people, and thus fulfilled the sure word of prophecy.
We are told that, in the days of Solomon, "Every three years came the ships of Tarshish." Eight hundred and sixty years before Christ we are told that Jonah went to Joppa, a seaport within the borders of Dan, and found a ship going to Tarshish, and that he took passage in it to go to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Just how long the ships of Palestinean seaports had been replenishing, or colonizing, the isles, even before the Assyrian captivity of the ten tribes, is not known, but historians place the time as early as 900 B. C. This gives abundant time for some prince of the Zarah branch of Judah's family to have preceded Israel to the isles, and to have had a large colony even before the Birthright went to Assyria, an event which did not occur until 721 B. C. That one of those princes did precede Israel to the isles of the sea is evident; first, because God says he did, and, second, because it is recorded in the Milesian records of Ireland that the prince Herremon, to whom Tea Tephi was married, was a prince of the "Tuatha de Daanans."
Mark this! If that prince was a prince of the tribe of Dan -- and authentic history declares he was -- then he was a prince of the family of Judah, for there can be no Prince of Dan other than a prince of the royal family of HIS RACE, and that family has but one fountain head, i.e., Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, to whom pertains the sceptre blessing.
But this rule seems to have worked both ways, for the family ensign of Judah is a lion, and since one of his whelps (young lion) went to the northwest isles with Dan, as a matter of course the ensign of his family, the royal family, went with him. Thus it became associated with the "Tuatha de Daanans," the tribe of Dan, and in time found its way into their national seal. See the accompanying cut.
The figure on this seal is described as "A Lion's Whelp with a Serpent's Tail." The largest of these represent Denmark, and the other two Norway and Sweden, which were at that time under the dominion of Denmark.