- Tribe of Gad
The Tribe of Gad (Hebrew Name|גָּד|Gad|Gāḏ|"soldier" or "luck") was one of the Tribes of Israel. At its height, Gad occupied a region to the east of the
River Jordan, though the exact location is ambiguous [JewishEncyclopedia] ; among the cities mentioned by the Bibleas having at some point been part of Gad were Ramoth, Jaezer, Aroer, and Dibon, though some of these are marked elsewhere as belonging to Reuben [ibid] . The location was never secure from invasion and attacks, since to the south it was exposed to the Moabites, and like the other tribes east of the Jordan was exposed on the north and east to Aram-Damascusand later the Assyrians.
According to the
Torah, the tribe was founded by an individual, Gadthe seventh son of Jacob, from whom it took its name; however some Biblical scholars view this also as postdiction, an eponymous metaphorproviding an aetiologyof the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation [" Peake's commentary on the Bible"] . In the Biblical account, Gad is one of the two descendants of Zilpah, a "handmaid" of Jacob, the other descendant being Asher; scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw Gad and Asher as being not of entirely Israelite origin (hence descendants of "handmaids" rather than of full wives) ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] . In common with Asher is the possibility that the tribal name derives from a deity worshipped by the tribe, Gad being thought by scholars to be likely to have taken its name from Gad, the semitic god of fortune ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] ; the name of "Gad" does not appear in the Song of Deborah, which scholars regard as one of the oldest parts of the Bible, pre-dating most of the Torah [" Peake's commentary on the Bible"] .
Like Asher, Gad's geographic details are diverse and divergent ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] , with cities sometimes indicated as being part of Gad, and sometimes as part of other tribes [compare Numbers 33:45 with Joshua 13:15 et seq.] , and with inconsistent boundaries [compare Joshua 13:24-27 to Joshua 13:15] ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] , with "
Gilead" sometimes including "Gad" [for example in Judges 5:17] and sometimes not [2 Samuel 24:5 / Joshua 13:24 et seq.] . Furthermore, the Moabite Stoneseemingly differentiates between the kingdom of Israel and the tribe of Gad, presenting Gad as predating Israel in the lands east of the Jordan ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] , and the books of Samuel and of Kings appear to portray Gad as Israel's enemy, to the extent that Jeroboambuilt the fortress of Penueljust to keep the tribe in check. These details seems to indicate that "Gad" was originally a northwards-migrating nomadic tribe, at a time when the other tribes were quite settled in Canaan [ibid] .
In the biblical account, Gad's presence on the east of the Jordan is explained as a matter of the tribe desiring the land as soon as they saw it, before they had even crossed the Jordan under
Joshua, and conquered Canaan. Classical rabbinical literatureregards this selection of the "other side" by Gad as something for which they should be blamed, remarking that, as mentioned in Ecclesiastes, "the full stomach of the rich denies them sleep" [Ecclesiastes 5:12b] ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] .
Though initially forming part of the
Kingdom of Israel, from the biblical account it appears that under Uzziahand Jothamthe tribe of Gad joined with the kingdom of Judah instead. Nevertheless, when Tiglath-pileser IIIannexed the kingdom of Israel in about 733-731 BC, Gad also fell victim to the actions of the Assyrians, and the tribe were exiled; in the Talmud, it is Gad, along with the tribe of Reuben, that are portrayed as being the first victims of this fate. The manner of the exile led to the further history of the tribe being lost, and according to the Book of Jeremiah, their former lands were (re)conquered by the Ammonites [Jeremiah 49:1] .
Gad (Biblical figure)
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