Why is the tribe of Dan NOT LISTED in Revelation with the other tribes of Israel?


There are a number of theories about why Dan is not included. The scripture does not tell us, so we are left with the need to do at least some speculating. Let me list a few suggested explanations. It is possible that more than one of these is in play.

1. The symbolism of 12 tribes is very important to the prophecy. Given that there was no tribe Joseph, but instead the two "half-tribes" of Manasseh and Ephraim, there were 13 tribes in Israel, so one of the thirteen had to be left out. The question was, which tribe would not be mentioned? The real question is, if one will definitely not be listed, why was Dan chosen to not be listed?

2. Unlike the other tribes (with the exception of Levi which never had any territory), the tribe of Dan never occupied the territory assigned to it because it was held by the Philistines (Judges 18). Instead, the occupied territory northeast of the Sea of Galilee, mixing with the Arameans (which helps to explain reason #4).

3. Probably for the sake of the 12-tribe numerology, Simeon is left out of a list of the tribes in Deuteronomy 33. Like Dan, the Simeonites never really occupied their own contiguous territory, but lived in towns within Judah. Simeon was later one of the more righteous tribes, being in the South, making Dan (one of the more ungodly 10 tribes in the North) the more appropriate one to be left off.

4. The Danites were particularly idolatrous and pagan from the beginning, as is pointed out in several places in the Old Testament.

5. It has been argued that the Danites were numerically the smallest of the tribes–definitely smaller than either half-tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim.

6. It has been argued that there was a scribal error in Revelation 7:4f. The passage mentions Manasseh and Joseph, when there really was no tribe of Joseph. The name Joseph would include both Ephraim and Manasseh. The suggestion is that an editor tried to "improve" the list by adding Manasseh and removing Dan. This one is possible, but there is no evidence for an earlier version.

My thought is that argument #1 plus at least one of the other five arguments is the likely answer to this question.

John Oakes

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