Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Search for…
Prev Entry
Gabrilovitch, Ossip
Next Entry
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links


The seventh of Jacob's sons, the first-born of Zilpah, himself the father of seven sons (Genesis 30:10,11; 46:16; Numbers 26:15 et seq.). The name means "[good] fortune."

2. Biblical Data:

Tribe descended from Gad, the seventh son of Jacob. In the desert it was credited with 40,000 men able to bear arms (Numbers 1:24 et seq., 2:15, 26:18). Rich in flocks, it occupied, with Reuben and half of Manasseh, the district east of the Jordan once belonging to the kings of Heshbon and Bashan and partly settled by Ammonites (Numbers 32:1,29,33; Deuteronomy 3:12,18; Joshua 13:25). Hence the "land of Gad" (1 Samuel 13:7), on the Jabbok (= "brook of Gad"; 2 Samuel 24:5; see GILEAD). Among its cities were Ramoth, Jaezer, Aroer, Dibon (Numbers 32:34 et seq.; Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 20:8). Gad was a warlike tribe, and took part in the conquest of the trans-Jordanic regions (Genesis 49:19; Deuteronomy 33:20,21; Numbers 32:6 et seq.). Among David's men at Adullam, Gad was well represented (1 Chronicles 12:8; 1 Samuel 22:1,2). Though Gad at first remained loyal to Ish-bosheth, it later transferred its allegiance to David (2 Samuel 2:8 et seq., 17:24 et seq.). Jeroboam built the fortress Penuel to keep the men of Gad in check (1 Kings 12:25). Later, under Uzziah and Jotham, Gad was joined to the kingdom of Judah (1 Chronicles 5:16; comp. Schrader, "K. B." 2:27). The Ammonitesseem to have ultimately reconquered the territory of Gad (Jeremiah 49:1).

E. G. H.

—In Rabbinical Literature:

Gad was born on the tenth of Ḥeshwan, and lived 125 years (Ex. R. 1:5; Yalḳ., Ex. 1). He was called "Gad" after the manna, which was like coriander (; Ex. R. c.). Because of his great strength he was not presented by Joseph to Pharaoh, lest the latter should appoint him one of his guards (Gen. R. 95:4). Foreseeing that the children of Gad would devote themselves to the breeding of cattle, Jacob ordered that in carrying his bier Gad should walk on the southern side, whence came the beneficent rains and fructifying dew (Num. R. 3:12). The tribe of Gad occupied the southern side of the camp also (Num. R. c.). They were neighbors of Korah because, like him, they were quarrel-some. Their standard was of red and black, with a camp painted on it (Num. R. 2:6). According to some, the name of Gad was inscribed on the agate in the breastplate of the high priest ("Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah," p. 13), according to others on the ligure (Samuel Ẓarẓa, "Meḳor Ḥayyim" to Exodus 28), while others declare it to have been cut on the amethyst, which has the virtue of infusing martial courage (Ex. R.; Baḥya ben Asher's commentary, ad loc.). The tribe of Gad is blamed for having chosen the "other side" of the Jordan, the verse "Riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt" (Ecclesiastes 5:12) being applied to them (Gen. R. 1. 11). When they arrived at the Jordan and saw the fertility of the land, they said: "One handful of enjoyment on this side is better than two on the other" (Lev. R. 3:1). However, because they crossed the river to help their brethren in the conquest of Palestine, just as Simeon did when he took his sword and warred against the men of Shechem, they were found worthy to follow the tribe of Simeon at the sacrifices on the occasion of the dedication of the Tabernacle (Num. R. 13:19). Moses was buried in the territory of Gad (Soṭah 13b; Yalḳuṭ, Wezot ha-Berakah, p. 961). According to some, Elijah was a descendant of Gad (Gen. R. ). The tribes of Gad and Reuben were the first that went into exile (Lam. R. 1:5).

E. G. H.
I. Br.

—Critical View:

The inscription on the MOABITE STONE, 1. 10, reports that "the man of Gad had dwelt since days of old in the land of Ataroth; then the King of Israel built for himself Ataroth." According to this, the Moabites distinguished between Gad and Israel, regarding the former as old inhabitants of the parts east of the Jordan. The same notion that Gad is not of pure Israelitish stock underlies the Biblical genealogy of the tribe's eponym. He is the son of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, not a full brother to Reuben and the other northern tribes. The geographical notes on Gad are for the same reason diverse and divergent. The city of Dibon is designated in Numbers 33:45 as belonging to Gad (with Ataroth and Aroer in Numbers 32:34 et seq.), but in Joshua 13:15 et seq. this same territory, north of the Arnon, belongs to Reuben. The boundaries of Gad in Joshua 13:24-27 (P) are also different. These and other discrepancies show a wide latitude and indefiniteness in the use of "Gad" as a territorial designation. Gilead sometimes includes Gad (among other passages see Judges 5:17), though at times it denotes a country north of Gad, and again a country south of Jaazer (2 Samuel 24:5; Joshua 13:24 et seq.). These facts seem to indicate that "Gad" was originally the name of a nomadic tribe, and was then applied to the territory which this tribe passed over and settled in. The gradual extension of the use of the name shows on the whole that the tribe coming from the south pushed on steadily northward (2 Samuel 24:5; comp. 1 Chronicles 5:11,16). The territory was never secure from invasion and attacks. To the south it was exposed to the Moabites, to the north to the Arameans from Damascus, and later to the Assyrians. Tiglath-pileser III. annexed this region about 733-732 B.C., and enslaved a part of the inhabitants (2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26). Ezekiel assigns to Gad the southern boundary in his territorial scheme (Ezekiel 48:27,28). The suggestion has been made that the name of the tribe is derived from Gad, the god of luck.

E. G. H.


A prophet, "the seer of David." The first appearance of Gad occurred when David took refuge from Saul in a stronghold in Mizpeh of Moab (1 Samuel 22:5). Gad advised him to leave it for the forest of Hareth. He reappeared late in the life of David, after the latter's numbering of the people, giving him the choice of one of three punishments, one of which God was about to inflict upon the Jews (2 Samuel 24:11-14; 1 Chronicles 21:9-13). Attached to the royal house, Gad was called "David's seer" (2 Samuel 24:11; 1 Chronicles 21:9). He also wrote a book of the acts of David (ib. 29:29), and assisted in arranging the musical service of the house of God (2 Chronicles 29:25).

M. Sel.


Name of the god of fortune, found in Isaiah 65:11, along with Meni, the name of the god of destiny. The passage refers to meals or feasts held by Hebrews in Babylonia in honor of these deities. Nothing is known of any Babylonian divinity of the name of Gad, but Aramean and Arabic equivalents show that the same god was honored among the other leading Semitic peoples. The root-verb means "to cut" or "to divide." Thence comes the idea of portioning out, which is also present in the word "Meni," the name of the kindred deity.

"Gad" is perhaps found also in Genesis 30:11, where the ketib reading means "by the help of Gad!" the exclamation of Leah at the birth of Zilpah's son. Indeed, it is quite possible that this narrative arises from a tradition connecting the tribal eponym with the Deity Himself. How wide-spread the cult of Gad, or Fortune, was in the old Canaanitish times may be inferred from the names "Baalgad," a city at the foot of Mount Hermon, and "Migdal-gad," in the territory of Judah. Compare also the proper names "Gaddi" and "Gaddiel" in the tribes of Manasseh and Zebulun (Numbers 13:10,11). At the same time it must not be supposed that Gad was always regarded as an independent deity. The name was doubtless originally an appellative, meaning "the power that allots." Hence any of the greater gods supposed to favor men might be thought of as the giver of good fortune and be worshiped under that appellative. It is possible that Jupiter may have been the "Gad" thus honored.Among the Arabs the planet Jupiter was called "the greater Fortune," while Venus was styled "the lesser Fortune." If the same usage prevailed in earlier Semitic days Meni should perhaps also be identified with Venus.

Gad, the god of fortune, is frequently invoked in Talmudic (magic) formulas of good will and wishes; for instance, in Shab. 67b ("Gad eno ella leshon 'abodat kokabim"; comp. Targ. Pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 20:10,11). The name is often synonymous with "luck" (Yer. Ned. 4:38d; Yer. Shab. 16:15d). Gad is the patron saint of a locality, a mountain (Ḥul. 40a), of an idol (Gen. R. ), a house, or the world (Gen. R. ). Hence "luck" may also be bad (Eccl. R. 7:26). A couch or bed for this god of fortune is referred to in Ned. 56a.

  • The commentaries of Delitzsch and Dillmann on Isaiah 65:11;
  • Baethgen, Beiträge zur Semitischen Religionsgesch. pp. 76 et seq.;
  • Lagarde, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p. 16;
  • idem, Symmicta, 1:87;
  • Pinches, in Hastings, Dict. Bible;
  • Cheyne, in Encyc. Bibl. s. Gad.
E. G. H.
J. F. McC.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Gad'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​g/gad.html. 1901.
Ads FreeProfile