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.

7 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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