"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Anti-Christ is coming.."- 1 John 2:18
Many biblical researchers have delved into the mystery of the identity of the Anti-Christ for many years. We have seen suggestions ranging from Nero and Antiochus Epiphanes, to Mikael Gorbachev and Saddam Hussein. The early church, too, concerned themselves with the coming Anti-Christ. For example, Hippolytus, well known for his rebuke of another bishop of Rome who sought to claim the same authority as the popes have throughout the centuries, wrote a fairly extensive treatise on the Anti-Christ. What follows is a brief overview of some evidences to support his identification of the origin of the Anti-Christ being in the tribe of Dan.
Hippolytus wrote, "He says, "Dan is a lion's whelp", (Deut. 33:22). And in naming the tribe of Dan, he clearly declared the tribe from which the Anti-Christ is destined to spring. Just as Christ comes from the tribe of Judah, so the Anti-Christ is to come from the tribe of Dan."
This identification of the origin of the Anti-Christ was not unique to Hippolytus. For example, Irenaeus writes, "Jeremiah does not merely point out the Anti-Christ's sudden coming, but he even indicates the tribe from which he will come, when he says, "We will hear the voice of his swift horses from Dan."
The name Dan means "judge". The tribe consisted of the descendants of Dan, who was a son of Jacob and Bilhah (Rachel's maidservant mentioned in Genesis 30:4). This is perhaps important, since this would mean that the descendants of Dan are not entirely of Israelite origin. If we accept the idea that the Anti-Christ will come from the descendants of Dan, it would mean he would not necessarily have to be Jewish, as some researchers have speculated. He could be of some other ethnic heritage as well.
The Blessing of Moses, detailed in Deut. 33:2-27 states that Dan will "leap from Bashan", which is an odd statement on its own, since the tribe of Dan did not live in the plain of Bashan. However, if Hippolytus is correct, then this leaping from Bashan could indicate either the region the Anti-Christ will be born or make himself known from, or where he will make war from, as today it is what we know as the Golan Heights region.
Josephus provides some interesting insight as well. Writing of the Samaritan village of Gitta, he states, "To them of Dan was assigned the valley that is extended to the westward, and is terminated by the cities of Azoth and Dor, that contain all the country of Jamnia and Gitta, from Akaron even to that mountain where the tribe of Judah begins."
|Serpent plate of the tribe of Dan|
In other words, Gitta and the surrounding area were settled by the tribe of Dan. This just happens to be the exact same place where Simon Magus came from; the same Simon the Sorcerer who is considered to be the source of the Gnostic heresy and all heresies that flow from it down to the modern era.
Also, the Ethiopian Jews claim to be descendants of Dan who migrated toward Sudan after the destruction of the First Temple. There is an odd branch of Judaism in their culture who worship a deity known as Danbhala, who is pictured as a serpent. Such might be easily dismissed as an anomaly, or deviation, until you also note that the symbol for the tribe of Dan is a snake, which is traditionally based on a quote in the Book of Genesis.
"Let Dan be a serpent by the roadside, a horned viper by the path, that bites the horses heel, so that the rider tumbles backward." - Genesis 49:17
Finally, modern archaeologists have discovered that the tribe of Dan originated from the Aegean peoples, who were mercenaries in Egypt. The "lost city" of Dan has been identified as Tel el-Qadi, which, appropriately enough, sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, the place where the Book of Enoch tells us the Watchers descended to earth, and where a shrine to the pagan god Pan stood during Jesus' ministry, and was widely known as "the gates of hell". This also happens to be the place where Jesus told his disciples that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
I will admit up front that the case for the Anti-Christ being from the tribe of Dan is a bit of conjecture, but I think the evidences certainly lend support to the early Christian identification as being correct.