🔼The name Dan-jaan: Summary
- Judge Of The Forest, Judge Of The Honeycomb
- From (1) the verb דין (din), to judge or govern, and (2) the noun יער (ya'ar), honeycomb or forest.
🔼The name Dan-jaan in the Bible
The name Dan-jaan occurs only one time in the Bible. It's mentioned as one of the stations where king David's general Joab stopped to count the men of Israel at his monarch's request (2 Samuel 24:6). After nine months and twenty days, the counting is done and David finally knows how large his army is. But at once David feels guilty for trusting in numbers and not in the Lord. The prophet Gad subsequently pays David a visit and illustrates the illusion of numbers by proposing three forms of penalty of increasing severity, but decreasing length. This probably to show that a handful of men can defeat a huge army if the Spirit of YHWH is with them.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Dan-jaan
The name Dan-jaan obviously consists of two elements. The first part is equal to the name Dan (דן), which comes from the verb דין (din), meaning to judge:
The verb דין (din) means to judge or govern. It's an old verb that mostly describes the authority of a naturally superior (because that person is wiser, stronger, older, etcetera) in contrast to the governing done by a formal government (by politically favored and appointed officials).
The noun דין (dayyan) describes one such a leader, and noun דין (din) describes anything pertaining to primitive governing: a judgment, plea, complaint, contention. Noun מדון (madon) literally describes a "place or judging" and is synonymous with the contending that goes on in such a place. Noun מדונה (medina) described the jurisdiction of one judge, and became the word for province.
The text actually reads דנה יען but the letter ה, which is suffixed to the name Dan is a particle that indicates motion, and it occurs also with some of the other place names mentioned in 2 Samuel 24.
The second part of our name is a bit of a mystery. BDB Theological Dictionary goes as far as to state, "As no such place is known, the text is usually regarded as corrupt...," which is a bit silly because the Bible is full of place-names that are not otherwise known. But the writers of the ancient Septuagint and Vulgate translations felt free to alter this name to one that suited better, and now most scholars believe that the author of 2 Samuel meant to write דן יער (Dan-jaar) instead of דן יען (Dan-jaan). And that means that the second part of our name can be neatly derived from any of the roots יער (ya'ar):
The verb יער (ya'ar) isn't used in the Bible and it's a complete mystery what it might have meant. Noun יער (ya'ar) is the common word for forest or thicket, and the identical noun יער (ya'ar) means honeycomb. It is, of course, perfectly possibly that these two nouns are not two but one, describing something general like a thing that consists of many elements, which contain energetic nutrients (either fruits or honey), and which are patrolled by ferocious animals. The latter noun also occurs as the variant יערה (ya'ra), honeycomb.
For a meaning of the name Dan-jaan, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Judge Of Woodland. Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary proposes an interpretation of this name.