The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Gad

Lloyd Stock, Bury St. Edmunds, England. [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 5 of 13 of the series The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Precious Seed

Regrettable contention

In the order of birth that we have been following from Genesis chapters 29 and 30, the next son after Napthtali is Gad. ‘When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife’, Gen. 30. 9. The last time we thought about Leah’s children, she was praising God. It seems that it didn’t take much for that joy to fade. She will not mention God again until He graciously provides Issachar some time later.
Just how long it took for her to take this drastic course of action we cannot be certain. In all probability she wouldn’t have waited long. Although the list in Genesis chapters 29 and 30 appears to be following a steady sequence, there is room in the text for thinking that the various pregnancies and births may have coincided. Some readers will be aware that several commentators hold to this view.  1 The expressions regarding ‘when’ Rachel and Leah became aware of their barrenness opens up this possibility. This would also explain how despite Leah’s period of barrenness, thirteen children were born to Jacob in seven years, including Dinah. The point to ponder is whether the order of names is chronological, or more designed to highlight the intense struggle between the two matriarchs. It should never cease to amaze us that God graciously worked amidst it all to work His purposes out.

Remarkable capability

As you scan scripture to survey the history of the tribe of Gad, one of the things that particularly marks them out is capability in warfare. Moses refers to the tribe as a crouching lion, ‘[tearing] the arm with the crown of the head’, Deut. 33. 20. He also implies that they may have taken a leading role in battles, 33. 21; cp. Num. 32. 29; Josh. 4. 12. The Chronicler speaks of eleven Gadite warriors who dug in with David when he was on the run from Saul. They are described as ‘men of might’, ‘men of war’, having the ‘faces of lions . . . swift as the roes upon the mountains’, 1 Chr. 12. 8-15. Today, we would call them special forces, highly capable individuals prepared for the most challenging assignments. Scripture has left these, and other similar accounts, on record and we do well just to ponder the harsh realities of battle expected of the people of God. Lives were on the line in order to work out His purposes. What about you and I? Whether it is the battle for truth, 2 Tim. 2. 3, the battle for souls, 2 Cor. 5. 20, or the battle for devotion, Gal. 5. 17, what do we really know of these things? How much are we contending for them?

Inevitable conflict

We noted when looking at Reuben that his tribe settled east of the river Jordan. Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh joined him and Gad’s western border ran the length of the Jordan. These were lush plains, ideal pasture grounds for the tribes’ flocks and herds. Ideal for other peoples as well; ideal for the Ammonites who occupied the territory east of Gad. Sure enough, the Ammonites spent eighteen years relentlessly oppressing the tribes in the Gilead region, cp. Deut. 3. 12, 13, reaching and crossing the plains of Jordan, Judg. 10. 7-9. Yet they were only able to do so because God permitted it on account of the wickedness of His people. We are reminded that God’s people are never truly vulnerable when walking in His will. But the flesh is always hungry for territory; there is an inevitable battle going on for our devotion and we must strive to remain single-hearted towards our God.

Favourable conclusion

Within Gadite territory, an important place was fortified under Jeroboam’s reign. It was Penuel, where Jacob had prevailed with God. Jacob clearly saw a little of himself in Gad, for his closing words to his son were of his tribe being overcome, ‘but he [Gad] shall overcome at the last’, Gen. 49. 19. Despite Gad’s exploits in the land, they ultimately abandoned the one who fought for them. They fell with their trans-Jordanian comrades when Assyria rose to power. They were truly overcome and they have yet to recover. There is a nod to them in New Testament times, with the city of Gadara, in what would have been Gadite territory. But today, their territory falls under the Kingdom of Jordan. Israel may contend for the territory, but it will take God to see to it that Gad, like all Israel, shall finally prevail. Praise God that though we are sometimes overcome, though we do sometimes fall, we will ultimately, by God’s grace, overcome at the last.


 1 For instance, see C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Lloyd is in fellowship in the assembly in Bury St. Edmunds, England. He is married with two children and works in the Educational technology industry.

There are 23 articles in
ISSUE (2020, Volume 75 Issue 1)

1 Thessalonians Chapter 2

A Word for Today - Graphe

An Assembly of the Lord’s people will be a people among whom - The Gospel is Sounded Out - Part 6

An overview of Nehemiah


Chairman’s Notes

Characters in the Early Years of the Lord - Anna

Church Doctrine and Practice (Revised Edition)

Cover Image

Editorial - ‘Be thankful unto him, and bless his name’, Ps. 100. 4.

TheGospel of Mark - Part 9

Handley Moule - His life and legacy

Hope – Anchor of the soul

Old Testament Women who appear in the New Testament - Lot's Wife

Question Time - Is any aspect of the Mosaic law binding on Christians? 

The - Part 1Sacrifice of The Son

The Epistle to the Colossians - Part 8

The Messianic Psalms - Psalm 72

The only One who always delivers and doesn’t disappoint

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Gad

What does the Bible tell us about the future? - Part 6 - ‘The Church and the Millennium’

What is God’s plan for my life?

‘We are leaving’

There are 15 articles in this series

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Introduction





The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Gad






The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Naphtali



Manasseh and Ephraim

There are 9 articles by this author

Regulating the Renaissance

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

The Twelve Tribes of Israel: Reuben

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Simeon

TheTwelve Tribes of Israel - LEVI

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Judah

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Dan

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Naphtali

The Twelve Tribes of Israel - Gad