The ancient city of Dan was the northernmost city of Old Testament Israel. (You might remember from reading the Old Testament the phrase “from Dan even to Beersheba,” which is repeated seven times. It refers to the land of Israel from the north to the south.) The excavations at Dan include the city itself as well as two other significant discoveries: Abraham’s Gate and Jeroboam’s Altar.
This gate was uncovered in 1979 but dates back to around 1750 B.C. It may very well have been the gate Abraham passed through as he passed through the northern coasts of Canaan.
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:1–4)
When the kingdom of Israel split during the reign of Rehoboam, Jeroboam became king over the northern kingdom of Israel. Sadly, he led Israel into idolatry, constructing tow golden calves—one in Bethel and one in Dan. Remains of this altar are still visible at Tel Dan.
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. (1 Kings 12:25–30)