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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Gad (3)

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(גּד , gadh , "fortune"): A god of Good Luck, possibly the Hyades. The writer in Isaiah 65:11 (margin) pronounces a curse against such as are lured away to idolatry. The warning here, according to Cheyne, is specifically against the Samaritans, whom with their religion the Jews held in especial abhorrence. The charge would, however, apply just as well to superstitious and semi-pagan Jews. "But ye that forsake Yahweh, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled wine unto Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter." There is a play upon words here: "Fill up mingled wine unto Destiny" ( מני , menı̄ ) and "I will destine מנתי , mānithı̄ , i.e. portion out) you for the sword" (Isaiah 65:11 , Isaiah 65:12 ). Gad and Meni mentioned here are two Syrian-deities (Cheyne, Book of the Prophet Isaiah , 198). Schürer (Gesch. d. jüd. Volkes , II, 34 note, and bibliography) disputes the reference of the Greek (Τύχη , Túchē ) cult to the Semitic Gad, tracing it rather to the Syrian "Astarte" worship. The custom was quite common among heathen peoples of spreading before the gods tables laden with food (compare Herod. i. 181, 183; Smith, Rel. of Semites , Lect X).

Nothing is known of a Babylonian deity named Gad, but there are Aramean and Arabic equivalents. The origin may have been a personification of fortune and destiny, i.e. equivalent to the Fates. The Nabatean inscriptions give, in plural, form, the name of Meni. Achimenidean coins (Persian) are thought by some to bear the name of Meni. How widely spread these Syrian cults became, may be seen in a number of ways, e.g. an altar from Vaison in Southern France bearing an inscription:

"Belus Fortunae rector, Menisque Magister."

Belus, signifying the Syrian Bel of Apamaea (Driver). Canaanitish place-names also attest the prevalence of the cult, as Baal-gad, at the foot of Hermen (Joshua 11:17 ; Joshua 12:7 ; Joshua 13:5 ); Migdal-gad, possibly Mejdel near Askalon (Joshua 15:37 ); Gaddi and Gaddiel (Numbers 13:10 f). In Talmudic literature the name of Gad is frequently invoked (compare McCurdy in Jewish Encyclopedia , V, 544). Indeed the words of Leah in Genesis 30:11 may refer not to good fortune or luck but to the deity who was especially regarded as the patron god of Good Fortune (compare Kent, Student's Old Testament , I, 111). Similar beliefs were held among the Greeks and Romans, e.g. Hor. Sat . ii.8, 61:

".... Fortuna, quis est crudelior in nos te deus?"

Cic. N.D. iii.24, 61:

"Quo in genere vel maxime est Fortuna numeranda."

The question has also an astronomical interest. Arabic tradition styled the planet Jupiter the greater fortune, and Venus the lesser fortune. Jewish tradition identified Gad with the planet Jupiter, and it has been conjectured that Meni is to be identified with the planet Venus. See, however, ASTROLOGY , 10.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Gad (3)'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/g/gad-3.html. 1915.

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