Testament of Dan

Dan begins with a confession that he rejoiced over the death what he thought was the death of Joseph. He so hated his brother that he desired to suck the blood of Joseph (1:9)! This, he claims, was the spirit of Beliar at work within him. Anger is therefore the moral exhortation of this testament. Anger causes blindness (2:2) and darkness of understanding (2:4). It is evil (3:1), and the one who is angry, if he is powerful, has triple strength because of his anger (3:4). Anger is senseless (4:1) even though it seems pleasant at first (4:4). “Anger and falsehood together are a double-edged evil” (4:7). Once again there are two ways, the Law of the Lord or the ways of Beliar (5:1-3).

Image result for viper snakeThe apocalyptic section is brief (5:4-13). In the last days people will defect from the Lord, be offended by Levi and revolt against Judah. Notice the importance of Levi (the priesthood) and Judah (the king); this develops into a double-messiah in some Qumran literature, one in the line of Aaron (a priest) and one in the line of David (a king).

Citing the Book of Enoch, people in those days will devote themselves to their prince Satan. OTP 809 note b states there is no text in the Enoch literature which supports this statement. It is possible the writer refers to another, unknown Enoch or he is placing the teaching in the mouth of Enoch. The people of God will undergo persecution and punishment which are compared to the ten plagues (5:8, there may be a parallel here between the plagues and Revelation 8), but after they turn back to the Lord they will be lead back to the holy place by the Lord (5:9). From both the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Levi the Lord’s salvation will come and he (the “Lord’s Salvation”) will make war against Beliar and will take from Beliar the captive souls of the saints. This might be a reference to resurrection, if the saints are captive in Sheol, but if Beliar is to be understood as Rome (cf. T. Issachar 6), then this is a much more revolutionary statement.

After the Lord’s salvation comes, the hearts of the people will turn back to their God and he will “grant eternal peace to all who call upon him” (5:11). This will be a time when the Holy One of Israel will rule over the people (5:12).  In chapter 6 Dan exhorts his children to draw near to the Lord and “cast aside every anger and lie” and cling to the righteousness of God (6:9-11).

The book ends with a cryptic notice that Dan prophesied to his sons that they would do astray from God’s law and they would be estranged from their inheritance (7:1-3). This may refer to the idolatry of Dan in the book of Judges or in the period of the divided kingdom, when Dan was a cult-center for Jeroboam (1 Kings 2:25-33). It is possible there is a tradition here which is reflected in the tribal list of Revelation 7 where the name Dan is missing.