16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. 18 I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.
We now move from the sons of Leah to those of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid. Dan, it is stated, would also be a leader among the Israelites. He would not have a dynasty, such as Judah, but it would have moments of rule, nonetheless.
The most famous descendant of Dan would be Samson, the mighty warrior, who would indeed judge Israel for twenty years, fulfilling the promise made in verse 16. Samson would also fulfill verse 17’s promise in how he constantly stirred up trouble for the Philistines, who at the time ruled over Israel. We will never hear of Samson at the head of the army, rather his actions would be individual, striking out at the Philistines randomly, when moved by passion, thus making the comparison to a venomous adder very apt.
Unfortunately, Dan also proved to be a poison to Israel itself, integrating idolatry into their entire society after the death of Samson. Perhaps it was the specter of this grave evil which would afflict Israel for generations that led to Jacob’s exclamation in verse 18 that he waits for the salvation of the Lord!