🔼The name Mahaneh-dan: Summary
- Camp Dan, Camp Of The Judge
- From (1) the noun מחנה (mahaneh), camp, and (2) the verb דין (din), to judge or govern.
🔼The name Mahaneh-dan in the Bible
The name Mahaneh-dan occurs twice in the Bible. The first place called such is where the judge Samson grew up. This Mahaneh-dan was located between Zorah and Eshtaol (Judges 13:25). The second time we hear of the name Mahaneh-dan is when six-hundred Danites camped somewhere close to Kiriath-jearim, en route from their allotted territory to an area more to their liking, and called the place such (Judges 18:12)
These travelling Danites found the land of Laish, and also a priest who worked in a house of someone called Micah, whose idols they swiped. Much to Micah's chagrin, the Danites promote his priest from house-priest to clan priest and take him along. When they arrive at the city of Laish they kill everyone and take over the city.
🔼Etymology of the name Mahaneh-dan
The name Mahaneh-dan consists of two elements. The first part comes from the verb חנה (hana), meaning to camp, and more specifically, the noun מחנה (mahaneh), meaning camp:
The verb חנה (hana) means to decline or camp down; to contract one's range of activities and settle in a secluded spot. Noun חנות (hanut) means cell. Noun מחנה (mahaneh) means camp, and noun תחנה (tahana) means encamping or encampment.
The odd one out is the noun חנית (hanit), which is one of a few words for spear. Why a word for spear derives from a verb that means to camp isn't clear, but perhaps a wandering warrior would thrust his spear into the ground to mark his flopping spot.
The second part of our name is the same as the name Dan, and 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 name Mahaneh-dan means Camp Of Dan, or perhaps more fully: Camp Of The Judge or perhaps Camp Of judgment.