Various archaeological discoveries support the Biblical record concerning Jacob, his 12 sons, and the later tribes of Israel.
DAN – Will Provide Justice for His People
see: Genesis 49:16
Dan was the fifth son of Jacob and the first son of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid (Genesis 30:1-6). During the period of Judges, the tribe of Dan migrated from their original allotment on the Mediterranean coast to the city of Laish, renamed Dan (Judges 18). The site of Laish/Dan has been under excavation since 1966, directed by Avraham Biran on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The city of Dan is most famous for being the site of one of the high-places set up by Jeroboam, first king of the breakaway northern kingdom, in order to worship the golden calf.
Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in DAN.
—1 Kings 12:28-29
That high place has been found and excavated by Biran (Biran 1976). The Dan high place was not only used during Israelite times, but continued as a religious center down to the Roman period.
In 1977, a very important discovery from the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd centuries BC) was made. A dedicatory inscription mentioning Dan was found some 17 meters south of the high place (Biran 1981). For the first time, the Biblical name of the site was found in an ancient inscription and, by association, the name of one of Jacob’s sons.
GAD – Will be Attacked by a Band of Raiders
see: Genesis 49:19
Gad was Jacob’s seventh son, the first son of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid. The tribe of Gad occupied the central area of Transjordan (Joshua 13:24-28).
In the famous Mesha Inscription found at Dhibon in Jordan, dating from the 9th century BC, the tribe of Gad is mentioned. The Moabite king Mesha states, “And the men of GAD had dwelt in the land of Atarothfrom of old” (Lemaire 1994: 33, line 10).
ASHER – His Food Will be Rich
see: Genesis 49:20; Asher
A number of scholars have maintained that that the name ‘Isr appearing in Egyptian texts is the Israelite tribal name Asher (e.g., Aharoni 1979: 179, 183; Hadley 1992: 482). That appears not to be the case, however. So we present the following in the way of a correction to information that might appear in other sources.
The earliest mention of the name ‘Isr is in a list of conquered peoples from the time of Seti I, early 13th century BC (Simons 1937:147, List XVII, no. 4).
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