Q. I would like to hear your thoughts regarding Genesis 49:17-18 and how it relates (or “if” it relates) to Jeremiah 8:16-17. Are the two related, and if so do you believe that the Bible teaches that the Anti-Christ will arise out of the tribe of Dan?
A. I believe there are two separate issues here. First, Genesis 49:17 is a prophecy about the tribe of Dan. It says,
“Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.”
The tribe of Dan is where one of the pagan altars was set up after the Northern Kingdom split from the South (1 Kings 12:29). Therefore some scholars believe God held Dan responsible for bringing idolatry into the North, causing the people to stumble and fall back into idolatry, as Genesis 49:17 indicates. They use this to explain why no one from Dan is included among the 144,000 witnesses of Rev. 7:4-8.
There is a Jewish tradition that the anti-Christ will come from Dan but there’s nothing in the Bible that specifically confirms that. The similarity of idioms between Genesis 49:17 and God’s statement to Satan (the serpent) that he would strike the heel of the Messiah (Genesis 3:15) has led to a certain amount of speculation in that regard. Personally, I believe that part of Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled at the cross.
In Jeremiah 8:16-17 we see Dan, horses, serpents, and vipers again. Although Babylon was east of Israel, a great desert between them caused travelers to circle to the North and enter Israel from that direction. The land of Dan being in the northern most part of Israel meant that’s the direction from which the Babylonian armies came. This is what Jeremiah 8:16-17 is about, and I believe the prophecy was fulfilled at that time. Notice verse 17 says the enemy will devour the city (Jerusalem) and all who live there. This happened in 586BC. In the end times Jerusalem will be captured briefly but will not be completely devoured (Zechariah 14:2).