Why is the tribe of Dan missing in Revelation 7? A hidden message?
There’s a very interesting hidden message in chapter 7 of the book of Revelation, but before I reveal it, let's understand the context in which the list of the 12 tribes is given and why the tribe of Dan is missing.
This list in Revelation 7 identifies the 144,000 witnesses who will preach the gospel and testify of Jesus during the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9). This is a period of seven years that is commonly referred to as the Tribulation. The 144,000 will include 12,000 men selected from 12 tribes. The tribe of Dan, one of the original 12 tribes of Israel, has been omitted from the list and Joseph's son, Manasseh, has been added. What's the explanation for this? And could there be a hidden message by omitting Dan and adding Manasseh?
The 12 Tribes of Israel
The 12 tribes of Israel are the 12 sons of Jacob, born to him by Leah, Rachel, Bilhah (Rachel's handmaid) and Zilpah (Leah's handmaid). The birth order is Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Juda, Dan, Nephthalim, Gad, Aser, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 35:23-26; Exodus 1:1-4; 1 Chronicles 2:1-2).
Whenever a listing of the 12 tribes varies from the list of Jacob's sons there is a reason. Sometimes the reason is clearly understood. For example, in the division of the land (Joshua 13-19) the tribes of Levi and Joseph are omitted. Levi was omitted because it was the priestly tribe and they were given cities throughout the land. Although Joseph's name is omitted in the land distribution, the tribe of Joseph is actually represented through Joseph's sons. The tribe of Joseph received a double blessing through Joseph's sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Each was give a portion of land.
Based on the birth list of the sons of Jacob, the list in Revelation 7 clearly omits Dan and adds Manasseh. In this case, the Bible does not tell why the tribe of Dan was omitted, nor does it reveal why Manasseh was included instead of Joseph's other son Ephraim.