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Migration of Dan

Early wanderings of this Israelite tribe

THE OTHER EXODUS: Forgotten History of the Danite Exodus from

In the days of the Pharaohs, we read of an adventurous hero named
Danaos and his followers who dwelled in Egypt. Then came an
event, or series of events, now corrupted by the mists of time,
which caused them to be exiled by the Egyptians. Recorded history
then tells us that they boarded ships in Egypt and sailed away to
establish new homes in Greece.

The beginning of Greek history is often dated to this "exile" of
Danaos and his followers, called Danaoi or Danaan, from Egypt.
This event has been dated by historians to about 1450 to 1493
B.C. However, it is significant that the Hebrew exodus from Egypt
is dated to the very same time-period: 1447 to 1491 B.C. Are
these two events related? Could indeed the Danaan "exile" from
Egypt have been a part of the Hebrew "exodus"? An analysis of
ancient records indicates that this was indeed the case.


The exodus - that wondrous event by which "the Lord did bring the
children of Israel out of the land of Egypt," Exodus 12:51 has
been called Israel's Independence Day and the turning point in
world history. The starting point of their journey was the city
of Rameses, located about six miles from the present Egyptian
capital of Cairo. As God's people set forth on their trek out of
Egypt to the Promised Land, Pharaoh pursued with 600 chariots,
Exodus 14:7, a mighty host that must have stretched a half-mile
long at three abreast, plus an unknown large number of foot
soldiers. Into an opening of the Red Sea they rushed! God
temporarily held back the flood, creating a dry pathway long
enough to allow His covenant people to escape, but Pharaoh and
his army perished as the sea returned. This miraculous event is
memorialized in the Song of Moses, Exodus 15:1-18, and sung in
victory by the redeemed Overcomers in the Millennial scene of
Revelation 15. It is therefore a type or shadow of the New
Covenant victory of Christians over unbelief, sin and evil, and
contains lessons for us all to benefit from today.

First century, B.C., Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, gave
collaborating evidence from the Egyptian point-of-view for the
truth of the Bible's exodus account. Of the Hebrews, he said,
"Their forefathers had been banished out of the whole of Egypt .
. . . in order to purify the land," (The History Of Antiquity, p.
458). There was some truth to this assertion, after Egypt had
endured the horrible swarms of insects and pestilential diseases
of the ten plagues!
Early Greek geographer and historian, Strabo (born 63 B.C.), also
lent support to the Biblical account, saying, "Moses told them
and taught that the Egyptians were not right in representing the
divinity as a wild or domesticated animal, nor the Libyans, nor
were the Hellenes wise in giving gods the form of men. For only
the One was God which surrounds us all ... By such doctrines
Moses convinced not a few men of reason, and led them to the
place where Jerusalem now is," (ibid., p.459). These "doctrines"
of Moses are known as the Ten Commandments. You can read them
yourself in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.


Some historians say that the Egyptians left no contemporary
surviving accounts of the presence of Hebrews and the exodus. The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (iv:7) reports, however, that as
early as the 15th century [B.C.], "Egyptian texts mention a
foreign people called 'Apuriu' residing in Egypt and performing
the service of slaves." The encyclopedia further states that
these people are identified by many scholars as the Habiru or
Hebrews. Ancient records also report that a Semitic people called
Danaan were expelled from Egypt, and sailed to Greece to
establish the early Greek civilization. Could the fabled Danaan
be a reference to the Biblical Hebrew tribe of Dan? William
Ridgeway's Early Age of Greece (p.220) dated the Danaan exodus
from Egypt as 1450 B.C. This is virtually identical to the date
of the Hebrew exodus, which is dated to 1447 B.C. by Dr.Stephen
E.Jones and 1453 B.C. in Dr.Adam Rutherford's Bible Chronology
(p.120). Other historians use slightly differing dates: The
History of Etruria (p.95) by Mrs.Hamilton Gray dates the Danaan
exile at 1493 B.C., which compares to a Hebrew exodus of 1491
B.C. according to Bishop Usher's dating (McClintock and Strong's
Encyclopedia, III: 396). Two unrelated Egyptian exoduses did not
occur at the same time! Historic evidence indicates that the
Danaan were the seafaring Biblical tribe of Dan and were
therefore part of the Hebrew Exodus. The Bible tells us that the
tribe of Dan were seafarers who "stayed in their ships," Judges
5:17. The Bible also gives much other evidence of Hebrew
seafaring in ancient times, as related in our companion study,
"Ancient Hebrew Sea Migrations."

It should be mentioned that some Christian expositors date the
exodus two centuries later, around 1225-1275 B.C., trying
to fit a full 400-year captivity entirely within Egypt through a
misunderstanding of the Scripture record. (See Secrets Of Time,
by Dr.Stephen E.Jones for details on this issue.) Many scholars
agree that this date is too late, and conflicts with the time of
the Judges. In addition, Egyptian monuments during the 14th
century refer to a region of western Galilee as "Asheu," which
was settled by the Hebrew tribe of Asher after the settlement of
Canaan (Jewish Encyclopedia 2:180). Therefore, Israel had to have
already settled Canaan by that time. The Jewish Encyclopedia also
points out that "I Kings 6:1 fixes the interval between the
exodus and the building of the Temple at over 480 years.
Rehoboam - 41 years after the building of the Temple (I Kings
14:25) - is contemporaneous with Shishak, the first king of the
twenty-second dynasty (c. 950 B.C.). This would give about 1470
B.C. for the Exodus. The finding by Flinders Petrie (1896) of an
inscription by Merneptah I, in which for the first time Isir'l
occurs in an Egyptian text, as well as the contents of the
El-Amarna tablets, has corroborated the virtual correctness of
the date given above" (5:296). 

This date of 1470 B.C. is exactly in the middle of the narrow
date range given by other scholars for both the Hebrew exodus and
the Danaan exile from Egypt.


The Semitic identity of the ancient Danan sailors has been
commented on by historians. G.F.Schomann stated, "Even among the
ancients, some considered that the [Danaan] settlers who arrived
[in Greece] from Egypt were at any rate not of Egyptian descent,
but adventurers of Semitic race, who, having been expelled from
Egypt, had some of them turned towards Greece," (Antiquities of
Greece, p.12).

These Danaan were not only Semitic; they were Hebrews, according
to ancient Egyptian records. Professor Max Duncker, in "The
History of Antiquity" (1:456-466), gave fascinating details of a
two-fold land/sea exodus as told in an ancient Egyptian account:

"The narrative of Hecataeus of Abdera, who was in Egypt in the
time of Ptolemy I, and wrote an Egyptian history, gives us the
most unprejudiced account, composed from the widest point of
view, and connects the emigration of the Hebrews, whom he does
not consider Egyptians, with the supposed emigration from Egypt
to Greece.
[Hecataeus says,] 'Once, when a pestilence had broken out in
Egypt, the cause of the visitation was generally ascribed to the
anger of the gods.' [Editor's Note: The Ten Plagues are called a
'pestilence' in Exodus 9:14-15, and were indeed caused by God!]
As many strangers dwelt in Egypt, and observed different customs
in religion and sacrifice, it came to pass that the hereditary
worship of the gods was being given up in Egypt. The Egyptians,
therefore, were of opinion that they would obtain no alleviation
of the evil unless they removed the people of foreign extraction.
[Note: This 'removal' is the Egyptian appellation for the exodus
of Scripture.] When they were driven out, the noblest and bravest
part of them, as some say, under noble and renowned leaders,
Danaus and Cadmus, came to Hellas [Greece]; but the great bulk of
them migrated into the land, not far removed from Egypt, which is
now called Judea. These emigrants were led by Moses, who was the
most distinguished among them for wisdom and bravery." 

Hecataeus of Abdera was a Greek historian living in fourth
century B.C. Egypt under Ptolemy I, a general of Alexander the

In the extract above, this ancient historian clearly connected
both the Hebrews and the Danaan as part of the same exodus.
Therefore, the Danaan were in fact the Biblical tribe of
Dan - a seafaring tribe and part of the Hebrew exodus.

Another marvelous account, although also spoken with a decidedly
Egyptian bias, is that of Lysimachus of Alexandria (355-281
B.C.), whose history was preserved by Flavius Josephus in Contra

"At the time of king Bocchoris [possibly the Greek name for the
Pharaoh of the exodus], unclean and leprous men had come into the
temples to beg for food. Hence there was a blight on the land;
and Bocchoris received a response from Ammon [an Egyptian god],
that the temples must be purified. The lepers, as if the sun were
angry at their existence, were to be plunged into the sea, and
the unclean were to be driven out of the land. Hence the lepers
were ... thrown into the sea; but the unclean were driven out
helpless into the desert. These met together in council; in the
night they lit fires and lights, and called, fasting, upon the
gods to save them. Then a certain Moses advised them to go
through the desert till they came to inhabited regions ... they
established a city Hierosyla [Jerusalem] in Judea . . ." (ibid.,

This ancient historic document provides evidence that the exodus
involved two distinct groups with different destinations. Some of
the Hebrews expelled from Egypt in the exodus were "thrown into
the sea" and sailed north across the Mediterranean to found the
earliest civilization in Greece, while Moses led the rest of
Israel eastward "helpless into the desert" of the Wilderness.


What happened to cause Danaus and his followers to be expelled
from Egypt? The reason handed down from the mists of time has
obvious corruption to it. The Egyptian accounts refer to two
brothers, Danaus and Aegyptus. Danaus was said to have 50 sons,
who each married one of the 50 daughters of Aegyptus. According
to the legend, each of the daughters then slew their husbands on
their wedding night (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., 7:793).
Aegyptus was also said to have "driven out" Danaus from Egypt.
Danaus therefore designates some people who had dwelled in Egypt,
and Aegyptus seems to indicate a personification of the land of
Egypt itself. This strange and contorted legend, if rooted on an
actual historic event, seems to indicate that some form of mass
slaughter had occurred. It is far more likely that we have
here evidence of the tenth plague on Egypt, the slaughter of the
firstborn. This event was indeed the decisive event that caused
Pharaoh to order the Hebrews to leave the land of Egypt, Exodus

The waterway systems of ancient Egypt played an important part,
since the Danaan went into exile on sea-going ships. The modern
Suez Canal, linking the Red Sea northward to the Mediterranean,
had not yet been built. Instead, a series of canals and waterways
linked the Nile River eastward to the Red Sea. The Encyclopedia
Britannica, in an article on the Suez Canal, states: "And so it
is that the earliest canals of which history has mention were
constructed to link the Nile valley to the Red sea and not to
pierce the narrow neck of land which separated the latter from
the Mediterranean. As early as 2000 B.C., a canal linked the
Pelusiac branch of the Nile, via the Wadi Tumilat, with the
Bitter Lakes, whence another channel was dug to the Red sea."

Historian Alexander Wheelock Thayer, in "The Hebrews In Egypt And
Their Exodus" presents evidence that on the night the exodus
began, Moses had a Hebrew force seize the boats on the Nile as
well as those on the canal leading to the Red Sea. Thayer says,
"This may reasonably have been, to seize all the shipping and
boats on the canal and Jam Suph about Pithom, to hasten the
business of crossing" the Red Sea. Thayer assumes that Moses
would have been unaware that God would open a footpath through
the Red Sea, and originally planned to cross by boat. It also
assumes that Moses planned to patiently ferry, presumably in many
hundreds of trips, all of the hundreds of thousands of people,
animals, and belongings of Israel across the Red Sea while
fleeing Egyptian pursuit! This would have been impractical, since
"the total number of Israelites [were] probably about two
millions. This number is accepted by the best critics" (Biblical
Encyclopedia by Gray and Adams 1:191).

For whatever reason, a Red Sea crossing by boat was never
attempted, for the Bible does not record the presence of any
boats as the Israelites approached the Sea. Therefore, if
Egyptian boats were seized for the exodus, a different plan was
in place. The boats were apparently used instead by the Danite
sailors as vehicles to escape from Egypt. The exodus was most
probably two-pronged. It was an escape by both land and sea from
the land of Pharaoh!


Whether it was their original intention or not, the Danaan sailed
their ships north to the secluded bay of Argos in the Greek
Pelopon nesus. The Encyclopedia Judaica (5:1257) quotes a leading
Israeli archaeologist, Y.Yadin, who states, ". . . there is a
close relationship between the tribe of Dan and the tribe of
Danaoi whose members were clearly seafarers." Also, "the name Dan
should be regarded as a short form of Dan(ann)iel or the like"
(5:1255). Again the connection with the Greek Danaan is

Dr.Robert Latham, one of the most respected 19th century
authorities, firmly stated that the Danaan of Greece were the
Israelite Tribe of Dan.  In his Ethnology of Europe, Latham
commented, "Neither do I think that the eponymus [i.e., founder]
of the Argive [Greek] Danai was other than that of the Israelite
tribe of Dan; only we are so used to confine ourselves to the
soil of Palestine in our consideration of the history of the
Israelites, that we . . . ignore the share they may have taken in
the ordinary history of the world" (p.137).

Archaeologist Dr.Cyrus Gordon states that they later sailed from
Greece to other European coastlands, including Ireland and
Denmark. In his book, "Before Columbus" Gordon relates, "A group
of Sea People bore the name of 'Dan.' The Bible tells how a
segment of the seafaring (Judges 5:17) Danites [were part of] the
tribal system of ancient Israel. . . . The Danites were
widespread. Cyprus was called la-Dnan 'The Island of Dan(an).'
The same people were called Danuna, and under this name they
appear as rulers of the Plain of Adana in Cilicia. Greek
tradition has their eponymous ancestor, Danaos (Dan), migrating
from the Nile delta to Greece . . ." (p.108). 

Note that the Israelites did in fact emigrate from Egypt. Cyrus
Gordon added, "Virgil also designated the Greeks as 'Danai.' Bold
scholars see the influence of the Danites in Irish folk lore ...
and in the name of Danmark ('Denmark'): the land of Dan. . ." (p.

There is indeed strong evidence that the Danaan of Ireland,
Cornwall and Scotland, the Danaan of Greece and Italy, as well as
the Danes of Denmark, were Israelites of the tribe of Dan. 

W.Ewart Gladstone in "Juventus Mundi" states that the Tuatha de
Danaan of Ireland came from the Danaan of Greece. The similarity
of name would itself seem conclusive; but is there other evidence
that these two groups of Danaan were related?

Dr.H.R.Hall, in "The Civilization of Greece In The Bronze Age"
stated concerning the Greeks of the age of Homer, "Athenian
funerary lekythoi [painted vases] give us coppery-red or brown
hair side by side with dark-brown or black, and generally fair
complexions, resembling a certain Irish Celtic type" (p.288).

Keating's "History of Ireland" says, "The Dannans were a people
of great learning, they had overmuch gold and silver. They left
Greece after a battle with the Assyrians, and for fear of falling
into the hands of the Assyrians came to Norway and Denmark
(Dannemark) and thence passed over to Ireland" (p.40).

The "Annals of Ireland" by the Four Masters explains, "The colony
called Tuathade-Dannan conquered the Firbolgs and became masters
of Ireland, were highly skilled in architecture and other arts
from their long residence in Greece and intercourse with the
Phoenicians" (p.121).

They have left their names in many places; we find Dannonia,
Caledonia, and Donaghadee in the Lough of Belfast. We can see by
now it is no coincidence that the early Greeks resembled the
Irish Celts, because the Tuatha de Danaan of early Ireland
descended from Greek "Danaan" colonists who sailed westward in
search of new lands.
These Danaan colonists did indeed settle in Denmark, which name
means, 'Dan's Mark' or 'Dan's Land.' In ancient times, Denmark
was settled by a tribe called the "Dani," according to early
Roman historian, Procopius (fifth century, A.D.), who recorded
that the Dani were a group of tribes inhabiting the Danish
peninsula (VI.xv.l-6). That these were part of the Hebrew tribe
of Dan may be seen in the fact mentioned previously that Biblical
Dan was called, "Dani-el or Dananniel," a variation of 'Dani' or

Messianic Church of God, Box 214036, Auburn Hills, MI 48321.     

Entered on Keith Hunt's Website, September 2003

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