Why are Dan and Ephraim Missing in Revelation 7?

The tribes of Dan and Ephraim had some significant problems in the history of Israel. While Dan himself does not commit any great sin in Genesis (as do the sons of Leah). The blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49 was not a condemnation, although Jacob describes Dan as a “serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward” (Gen 49:18). In the book of Judges, however, we find that the tribe of Dan was involved in idolatry. Samson was from the tribe of Dan, during his career as judge idolatry does not appear to have ceased. The tribe of Dan migrated north to a better territory. The worshiped a “calf” after the kingdom split (1 Kings 12:25).

But would Dan be omitted because of idolatry? All the tribes were, and any of the northern tribes would have been just as involved as Dan. It is in Judah that idols were established on the temple mount and the priesthood worshiped both Yahweh and Assyrian gods. It is possible that they were the first tribe to become idolatrous, but all tribes were involved at Sinai, the real beginning of idolatry in Israel. It was, however, a Jewish tradition that Dan was the most apostate tribe (Aune 2:462, citing Str-B 3:804-805).

A common explanation for this omission is that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan. As Richard Bauckham points out, for John the Antichrist is imperial Rome is not a Jew from any particular tribe (101). This is a point which must be proven yet, but the observation is enough to make us wonder if the whole tribe is removed from the list because the Antichrist would come from it!

Dan is also missing from the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9. This is a more significant observation for our problem in Revelation. Perhaps the tribe of Dan failed to return from captivity and therefore lost its place in the tribes. In many prophetic passages, Ephraim becomes synonymous with the entire northern kingdom, especially in its idolatrous forms. The book of Hosea in particular uses the tribe of Ephraim to describe the apostasy of the whole of the northern kingdom.

So once again Revelation generates questions which may be impossible to answer with certainty. Perhaps the solution is as simple as the need to delete two tribes because Levi and Joseph were included.

12 thoughts on “Why are Dan and Ephraim Missing in Revelation 7?

    • Thanks, I really do appreciate the link. I have read the article before, I probably should’ve included in this blog. But now readers can follow the link and read your work for themselves.

      Like

  1. It’s interesting to see why just these two tribes were eliminated from the list of tribes. I believe that the conclusion for the tribe being removed because of the reference to the anti-christ would make more sense than the idolatry suggestion. If Jesus was indeed going to strike down the anti-christ, then what good would it be for the anti-christ tribe reference to be listed as a tribe? Seems contradictive to me. Moreover, reading the other link to the PDF suggested above, it seems as if the common theme and conclusion of idolatry is not the only conclusion. In the article, there are suggested names like Bar Kokhba, who was the Messiah of Ephraim, is to be defeated and will be surpassed by the Messiah of David. So, from reading both articles, there are more reasons than just the idea of the anti-christ and idolatry. It also, has to do with leaders and lines of leadership.

    Like

  2. It is curious to me the connection between the idolatry in the tribe of Dan and the Antichrist. As we know from scripture, the antichrist is an idol for the people of the earth, a distraction from the truth. It would make sense that the antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan if that is where the separated idolatry of Israel began. If it is meant that the antichrist is to come from that tribe, then that explains why the tribe is removed from the list of tribes.

    Like

  3. I have never really been one to take a lot of time and concentrate on different tribes. I really appreciate seeing the break down of them from time to time. I find it interesting that Dan would not be talked about or mentioned. I would love to be able to research more on what happened to them and why they became “irrelevant.” I really like how Elaine brought up that the connection between the tribe of Dan and the Antichrist is idoltry in the sense our world is going to make the Antichrist an idol. We know that he is going to take people away from learning about Christ and cause them to stray away. I find it very interesting that they think that he could derive from the tribe of Dan. After this blog post, I really do want to learn more about the tribes in the Bible and what happened in each one. I know that it is important to know what tribes did what! I bet writing it out would help me comprehend and retain more information on it.

    Like

  4. The erase of Dan and Ephraim from the Twelve Tribes of Israel is puzzling, and it appears that there are no ground bases as to why the two tribes would be omitted. Originally, I had thought the same thing as the final sentence made in this article, that if Joseph and Levi are to be added they needed to keep the number at twelve still, thus removing Dan and Ephraim. However, this is most likely not the case. The ESV Study Bible suggests in its notes that these tribes do not necessarily represent the sons of Jacob but rather are a representation for the church as those two are missing and the sons are all out of order. They suggest that this symbolizes that everyone is included within the church now and that salvation is not just for the Jews but for the Gentiles as well. This is another interesting perspective on the unusual line up of tribes, but a plausible one. I would agree with the article that the idea of idolatry seems a little unfair if not farfetched to be the reason that Dan and Ephraim were excluded from the twelve tribes as they were not the only two that were practicing idolatry. This is one of those topics we will probably never find the answer to on this earth and it may not even be all that important for us to know. If it was important, we would have known the answer to their exclusion long ago.

    Like

  5. It is interesting that you mention Dan, the person, and that he does not really “commit any great sins.” Even though this is the case, as you said, there is really no reason for Jacob to have given the words that he did; the tribe was later part of idol worship, though that doesn’t seem to be the reality of (the person) Dan’s life.
    “Jacob sees in Dan and his descendants both positive and negative attributes” (ESVSB 134). Perhaps Jacob saw more in his son, and his family, that no one else saw; or, perhaps Jacob also had some sort of prophetic idea that Dan would eventually fall away.
    As for Ephraim, it seems you are communicating that the tribe was also an idolatrous tribe. This is an interesting connection between the two; however, as you said, there could simply be no connection and they only needed to omit two tribes to fit the other two in. It makes no sense as to why Joseph would be included, but his son Ephraim would not be included, yet his son Manasseh is included. I have absolutely no idea what the explanation is. It could be that God is trying to show that even families will be divided in some way–that some go to heaven, and some don’t. It is believed that the 12 Tribes of Israel are the ones that will make it; but maybe it is showing that the list is not exclusive, rather it is inclusive.This dives into the idea of Israel being the chosen people. Perhaps some of the people of Israel don’t make it to heaven.

    Like

  6. Jacob had twelve sons. The most well-known son of Jacob is Joseph who had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. On Jacob’s deathbed, he both blesses and curses his sons. Not only that, but he also blesses both of Joseph’s sons. Yet in Revelation Ephraim and Dan are not mentioned. However, not much is known about why they are not mentioned. All of the tribes of Israel had committed in the act of idolatry at one time or another. Yet as Professor Long states, according to Jewish tradition that Dan was known for denying God. This could be one of the reasons why Dan was not included in Revelation. Professor Long also points out that Dan has been missing since 1 Chronicles 1-9 and not just from Revelation. There also is not much known for why Ephraim is not mentioned. Ephraim was part of the northern kingdom and became associated with their idolatrous ways. Hosea uses Ephraim as an example of the northern kingdom turning away from God. Yet as Professor Long points out, there will always be questions about Revelation that we may never find the answers to.

    Like

  7. At first glance it seems striking that Dan and Ephraim are excluded from the list of the tribes of Israel in Revelation 7 and replaced with Levi and Joseph. When pulling from the potential of idolatry and apostasy mentioned in 1 Kings 12:25 and the blatant lack of mention in the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9 it makes a little more sense as to why they may be removed. The argument still stands, however, that they committed idolatry just as all the other tribes had committed idolatry. It would make less sense to use the argument for idolatry as to why they are removed than just culture changing since the kingdoms had split. There quite possibly was just a dissolving of these two tribes during the split. People probably identified more so with being descendants of Levi and Joseph. And as time progressed these two tribes had disappeared into nothing while the identification with Levi and Joseph persevered.
    Something that is interesting with the argument that the antichrist will come from Dan is Jacob’s description of Dan in Genesis 49:18. The devil is identified as the serpent in Eden and now Dan the son of Jacob is being described as a viper. This correlation by way of serpents may be on to something. Personally, it seems most likely that these tribes probably dissolved during the kingdom split and exile resulting in identification with Joseph or Levi or possibly with another tribe. Is it possible for an entire tribe to be dissolved? Did Dan dissolve and stay with the Assyrians? Is Ephraim just a description of the entire northern kingdom? It may be that we will never know. It may be a matter of culture shift. Or it may be that the antichrist will come from Dan. This is a question that the Bible is probably not interested in answering.

    Like

  8. Yes, the reason Dan and Ephraim are excluded and Joseph (he didn’t even have a tribe, his inheritance was a double portion and shared between his two sons) is included is an intentional move by John to point us to the symbology of the “fullness of 12” and even further, we know that a census in the OT tribes was always done in preparation for war. Therefore John’s vision in Ch 7 is showing us the fullness and completeness of the church (jews and gentiles) being prepared for going out into ALL the world in spiritual battle to proclaim the name of the Lamb. This is why immediately after this in the second half of chapter 7 we see a multitude that is unable to be counted, from every language, tongue and nation. It is most assuredly the true Israel, the church! Unfortunately we in the evangelical church in the last 150 years have strayed from the understanding of these verses which were held by the true church for 1800 years (even in the dark ages, God kept a remnant of believers who preserved the Word despite the blasphemy of the catholic papacy)! Because of the influence of the enemy and propaganda of mainstream media pastors in the 1900’s, we have been taught that this “12 tribes of Israel” means that Jesus will come back and have a “second plan” for the Jews separate and apart from the Church. This is ridiculous and I’m ashamed that after 35 years I have just had my eyes opened to this in the last few months. Now as I read the NT epistles again (romans and hebrews specifically) with the understanding that there is only One Israel, and only One seed of Abraham, which is, those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we as Gentiles have been grafted in to the Olive Tree, it is a glorious truth that points all of us, whether we are jew or gentile, to give glory unto the Father who by His great mercy wherewith He has saved us! I repent that I have believed there must be a third temple built, for I realize now more than ever that I am the temple and by faith in Jesus the presence of God dwells in me through the power of the Holy Spirit. Offering animal sacrifice and a physical house mean NOTHING to God now that He has offered the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth. Believing that there is still some side deal between God and His chosen people of the fleshly Israel belittles Christ’s atonement for the true Israel (which is not of flesh nor circumcision, as we read all over in the NT) and mocks the Father’s inheritance of all nations, as He declared to Abram that in him all nations would be blessed. I have gone through a substantial reframing of my understanding ever since Covid hit and being stuck at home for months immersed myself in studying scripture and reading early church fathers (ante-nicene in particular) as well as studying the reformation. Daniel 9 was gloriously fulfilled in the ministry and death of our Lord Jesus. For more details on this I recommend Peter Gentry’s study: https://sbts-wordpress-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/equip/uploads/2010/05/sbjt_v14_n1_gentry.pdf

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.