Q: I have often asked why the Tribe of Dan is omitted from Revelation 7:5-8. I can find no explanation in Scripture. Do you have any explanation? How do you handle it when people conjecture the reason (e.g., the Tribe of Dan has died out; the Tribe of Dan has committed some unpardonable sin against God, etc.)?
A: Concerning why the Tribe of Dan is left out, every reason people give will always be nothing but guesswork. The simple answer is that the Bible does not say why Dan has been left out. No specific sin (like idolatry) could be leveled against Dan that would not be true of the other tribes as well. Furthermore, it is impossible to say that Dan has disappeared because in Ezekiel 47:13-48:35, where he deals with the restored Israel in the Messianic Kingdom, he points out that the tribes will be resettled in tribal divisions, and that includes the Tribe of Dan (48:1-2). While people try to find all kinds of possible theological reasons why the Tribe of Dan is left out, again, it is all guesswork. Actually, the reason might be quite simple: to maintain the symmetry of twelve. If you have to make a list of all the tribes, you would end up with thirteen names and not twelve since the Tribe of Joseph was split into two distinct tribes: Ephraim and Manassah. If you had to maintain the figure twelve, you would have to leave one name out. Revelation seven left out the Tribe of Dan. This is not unusual. In Deuteronomy 33, Moses pronounces the blessings of the Twelve Tribes and he left out the Tribe of Simeon. Because a lot more people study Revelation than they do the Book of Deuteronomy, I have not found anybody wrestling with why the Tribe of Simeon is left out and no guesses are given. The fact is that the Tribe of Simeon was probably left out only to maintain the symmetry of the figure twelve. Deuteronomy left out Simeon and Revelation left out Dan, and there is no need to make any more of it.