Today’s name is ‘Dan,’ the fifth son of Jacob and the first son for Rachel through her maidservant Bilhah.
You may remember what happened before the births of Shimeon and Reuben, his older brother. Jacob, who wanted to marry Rachel and worked for 7 years to win her, was cheated by her father, Laban, who gave him at the wedding night his other daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. He was forced to serve Laban for 7 more years for the right to marry Rachel, whom he loved. According to the Hebrew Bible, Leah was hated by Jacob, but God opened her womb and gave her five sons, while Rachel was still barren.
“And Rachel said, ‘God has judged me, and has also heard my voice, and has given me a son’; therefore she called his name Dan”
Here, the English translation is exact; Dan means ‘Judge’, or as a past-tense verb, ‘judged.’
The Hebrew Bible goes way beyond the limited spectrum of the mere meanings of names. In biblical Hebrew, first names often explain both the circumstances of birth and meaningfully foreshadow people’s destiny.
Another reference to Dan’s name is found in this verse:
“Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel”
Once again, this is a perfect example of the two-fold substantiation of the biblical names: Dan’s name is given as a circumstance of his birth (first verse) and foreshadows its destiny as a tribe.