A city familiar as marking the northern limit of the land of Israel in the common phrase "from Dan even to Beer-sheba" (Judges 20:1 1 Samuel 3:20, etc.). Its ancient name was Laish or Leshem (Judges 18:7, etc.). It was probably an outlying settlement of Tyre of Sidon. Its inhabitants, pursuing the ends of peaceful traders, were defenseless against the onset of the Danite raiders. Having captured the city the Danites gave it the name of their own tribal ancestor (Judges 18). It lay in the valley near Beth-rehob (Judges 18:28). Josephus places it near Mt. Lebanon and the fountain of the lesser Jordan, a day's journey from Sidon (Ant., V, iii, 1; VIII, viii, 4; BJ, IV, i, 1). Eusebius, Onomasticon says it lay 4 Roman miles from Paneas on the way to Tyre, at the source of the Jordan.
This points decisively to Tell el-Qady, in the plain West of Banias. The mound of this name-Kady is the exact Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew Dan-rises from among the bushes and reeds to a height varying from 40 to 80 ft. The largest of all the springs of the Jordan rises on the west side. The waters join with those of a smaller spring on the other side to form Nahr el-Leddan which flows southward to meet the streams from Banias and Chasbeiyeh. The mound, which is the crater of an extinct volcano, has certain ancient remains on the south side, while the tomb of Sheikh Marzuk is sheltered by two holy trees. The sanctuary and ritual established by the Danites persisted as long as the house of God was in Shiloh, and the priesthood in this idolatrous shrine remained in the family of Jonathan till the conquest of Tiglath-pileser (Judges 18:30 2 Kings 15:29). Here Jeroboam I set up the golden calf. The ancient sanctity of the place would tend to promote the success of his scheme (1 Kings 12:28, etc.). The calf, according to a Jewish tradition, was taken away by Tiglath-pileser. Dan fell before Benhadad, king of Syria (1 Kings 15:20 2 Chronicles 16:4). It was regained by Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25). It shared the country's fate at th hands of Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29).
It was to this district that Abraham pursued the army of Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:14). For Dr. G. A. Smith's suggestion that Dan may have been at Banias see HGHL1, 473, 480.