Judges 18:29: The Establishment of the Idolatrous Shrine at Dan

Verse 29:[1] And (Josh. 19:47) they called the name of the city (Gen. 14:14; Judg. 20:1; 1 Kings 12:29, 30; 15:20) Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.


Tel Dan

After the name of Dan their father; that it might be manifest that they belonged to the tribe of Dan, though they were seated at a great distance from them, even in the most northerly part of the land; whereas the lot of their tribe was in the southern part of Canaan.



[Which was called Laish before, וְאוּלָ֛ם לַ֥יִשׁ שֵׁם־הָעִ֖יר[2]] And indeed (certainly [Jonathan], but [Munster, Syriac], although [Tigurinus], moreover [Arabic]) Laish was the name of the city (Montanus, Pagnine). But the Septuagint has, Ulam Laish, that is, the porch of Laish. We had a similar thing in Genesis 28:19,[3] in which place see what things were said (Grotius). It was called לַיִשׁ/Laish,[4] leonine, as it were; either, because it was mighty and very powerful; or, because that region was abounding in lions: which is not surprising, since it was near Libanus (Malvenda).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרְא֤וּ שֵׁם־הָעִיר֙ דָּ֔ן בְּשֵׁם֙ דָּ֣ן אֲבִיהֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יוּלַּ֖ד לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְאוּלָ֛ם לַ֥יִשׁ שֵׁם־הָעִ֖יר לָרִאשֹׁנָֽה׃


[2] אוּלָם/ulam functions as an adversative adverb.


[3] Genesis 28:19: “And he called the name of that place Beth-el: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first (וְאוּלָ֛ם ל֥וּז שֵׁם־הָעִ֖יר לָרִאשֹׁנָֽה׃).”


[4] לַיִשׁ signifies lion.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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