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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Gad

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GAD (‘fortunate’). Genesis 30:9 ff. (J [Note: Jahwist.] ), Genesis 35:26 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ); the first son of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, by Jacob, and full brother of Asher (‘Happy’). This like other of the tribal names, e.g. Dan, Asher , is very probably, despite this popular etymology, the name of a deity (cf. Isaiah 65:11 , where AV [Note: Authorized Version.] renders ‘troop’ but RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘ Fortune ’). Another semi-etymology or, better, paronomasia ( Genesis 49:19 ) connects the name of the tribe with its warlike experiences and characteristics, taking note only of this feature of the tribal life:

gâdh gedhûdh yeghûdhennu

wehû’ yâghûdh ’âqçbh:

‘As for Gad, plunderers shall plunder him,

And he shall plunder in the rear’ ( i.e. effect reprisals and plunder in return).

In the Blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:20 ) Gad is compared to a lioness that teareth the arm and the crown of the head, and later ( 1 Chronicles 12:8 ; 1 Chronicles 12:14 ) the Gadites who joined David are described as leonine in appearance and incomparable in combat: ‘Their faces are as the faces of lions, the smallest is equal to a hundred and the greatest to a thousand.’

Upon the genetic relations of Gad and Asher the genealogy throws no light, for the fact that Gad and Asher, as it appears, were names of related divinities of Good Fortune would be sufficient ground for uniting them; but why they should have been brought together under the name of Zilpah is not to be conjectured with any certainty. Leah, unlike Rachel, who was barren until after her maid had brought forth to Jacob, had already borne four sons before Zilpah was called in to help her infirmity.

It appears that Gad, notwithstanding the genealogy, was a late tribe. In the Song of Deborah it is not even mentioned. Gilead there takes its place, but Mesha (9th cent.) knows the inhabitants of Gilead as the ‘men of Gad.’

The families of Gad are given by P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] in Genesis 46:16 and Numbers 26:15 ff., 1 Chronicles 5:11 ff. repeats them with variations. In the Sinai census P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] gives 46,650 men of war. By the time they had reached the Wilderness they had decreased to 40,500. Their position on the march through the desert is variously given in Numbers as 3rd, 6th, 11th.

Numbers 32:34-36 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) gives eight towns lying within the territory of Gad. The most southerly, Aroer, lay upon the Arnon; the most northerly, Jogbehah, not far from the Jabbok. Ataroth, another of these towns, is mentioned on the Moabite stone (l. 10), and the ‘men of Gad’ are there said to have dwelt within it ‘from of old.’ Within this region, and clustering about Heshbon, P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] gives six cities to the Reubenites, But in Joshua 13:15 ff. Reuben has all to the south of Heshbon, and Gad all to the north of it. Owing to the divergent statements in the Hexateuch and the historical books, it is quite impossible to say what the northern boundary was. In any case it was not a stable one.

The reason assigned by the traditions for the settlement of Gad and Reuben in Gilead is that they were pastoral tribes, with large herds and flocks, and that they found the land pre-eminently adapted to their needs. They, therefore, obtained from Moses permission to settle on the east side of Jordan after they had first crossed the river and helped the other tribes in the work of conquest (see Numbers 32:1-42 and Deuteronomy 3:18-20 ).

After the conquest, in the time of the Judges, the people of Gilead were overrun by the Ammonites until Jephthah finally wrought their deliverance. In David’s conflicts with Saul, the Gadites and other eastern tribes came to his assistance. As the Mesha stone shows, they had probably at that time absorbed the Reubenites, who had been more exposed previously to Moabite attacks, which at this time fell more directly upon Gad. When the northern tribes revolted, Jeroboam must have found the Gadites among his staunchest supporters, for it was to Penuel in Gadite territory that he moved the capital from Shechem in Ephraim (1 Kings 12:25 ).

In 734 the Gadites with their kinsmen of the East Jordan, Galilee and Naphtali, were carried captive by Tiglath-pileser iii. when Ahaz in his perplexity ventured upon the bold alternative of appealing to him for assistance against the powerful confederation of Syrians, Israelites, and Edomites who had leagued together to dethrone him (1 Kings 15:29 , 2 Chronicles 28:16 ff.). It was clearly a case of Scylla and Charybdis for Ahaz. It was fatal for Gad. See also Tribes of Israel.

James A. Craig.

GAD . A god whose name appears in Genesis 30:11 (‘by the help of Gad’; so in Genesis 30:13 ‘by the help of Asherah’); in the place-names Baal-gad, and Migdal-gad ( Joshua 11:17 ; Joshua 12:7 ; Joshua 13:5 ; Joshua 15:37 ); and in the personal name Azgad ( Ezra 2:12 , Nehemiah 7:17 ; Nehemiah 10:15 ). In Isaiah 65:11 Gad (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘ Fortune ’) and Meni are named as two demons with whom the Israelites held communion (see Meni). Gad was probably an appellative before it became a personal name for a divinity, and is of Aramæan, Arabian, and Syrian provenance, but not Babylonian. He was the god who gave good fortune (Gr. Tyche ), and presided over a person, house, or mountain.

W. F. Cobb.

GAD is entitled ‘the seer’ ( 1 Chronicles 29:29 ), ‘David’s’ or ‘the king’s seer’ ( 1 Chronicles 21:9 , 2 Chronicles 29:25 , 2 Samuel 24:11 ), or ‘the prophet’ ( 1 Samuel 22:5 , 2 Samuel 24:11 ), He is represented as having announced the Divine condemnation on the royal census, and as having advised the erection of an altar on Araunah’s threshing-floor ( 2 Samuel 24:11 ff. = 1 Chronicles 21:9 ff.). The Chronicler again ( 1 Chronicles 29:29 ) names him as having written an account of some part of his master’s reign. A late conception associated him with the prophet Nathan ( 2 Chronicles 29:25 ) in the task of planning some of the king’s regulations with reference to the musical part of the service, while ( 1 Samuel 22:5 ) he is also stated to have acted as David’s counsellor in peril during the period when the two dwelt together in ‘the hold.’

GAD (Valley of). Mentioned only in 2 Samuel 24:5 , and there the text should read ‘in the midst of the valley towards Gad,’ the valley ( wady ) here being the Arnon (wh. see).

E. W. G. Masterman.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gad'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/g/gad.html. 1909.

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