The Tribe Of Gad
“Gad will be attacked by marauding bands,
but he will attack them when they retreat.
Genesis 49:19 (NLT)
The tribe of Gad, another of the children of Jacob’s 2 concubines, was next up. And, his blessing is quite short… only about a dozen words in length. Basically, it says that Gad is going to be constantly oppressed and under attack, but in the end, Gad will overcome.
If we look at the territory Gad was eventually given, we see that Gad will be one of the tribes that, like Rueben, decided NOT to enter into the Promised Land. Instead, Gad’s descendants settled on the EAST side of the Jordan River. His borders were very exposed to several longtime enemies, including the Moabites and the Ammonites (descendants of Lot), and much like Dan, the tribe of Gad found themselves constantly at war. On the other hand, this constant warfare led to Gad becoming regarded as the fiercest of warriors.
Interestingly, Gad is not credited in the Bible with any particular outstanding person belonging to that tribe. Elijah, by Tradition, is said to be a Gadite, but that is strictly legend and has never been verified. The most famous was probably Jair, who was a Shofet, a judge, a leader, over Gad for a time.
In the O.T., we will occasionally run into the geographical name of “Gilead”. Gilead and Gad are generally used interchangeably to describe where the tribe of Gad settled.
What Should We Learn From The Tribe Of Gad?
Mostly, what we learn from this tribe is that we are rewarded when we obey and honor God (Numbers 32:16-19). During the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua gave Gad the best of the new land because they obeyed God and punished Israel’s wicked enemies (Deuteronomy 32:20-21). Gad was one of the tribes especially dedicated in the fight to conquer the land as God commanded.
Another lesson for us is that honoring God can present difficulties. After the tribes had settled into their lands, they were shocked to hear that Gad had built an altar in its territory across the Jordan. The other tribes took the altar to be a sign that the Gadites were breaking from the worship of God in Shiloh, and plans were made to attack Gad for its transgression.
Prior to battle, however, a delegation went to Gad to learn more about its action and rebuke the tribe for its sin. The emissaries discovered that Gad had constructed the altar to honor God and to prevent the Jordan River, a significant geographical divide between Gad and the majority of the other tribes, from spiritually dividing God’s people (Joshua 22:10-34).
The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “Witness,” for they said, “It is a witness between us and them that the Lord is our God, too.” (Joshua 22:34). War was averted, but we are reminded that differences in how we choose to honor God may result in misunderstanding, discord and strife, even among believers.
Perhaps the most important lesson we learn from Gad (and all the other tribes) is to recognize the need for complete faith and trust in God. God commanded Moses to remind the Israelites to “carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9).
“Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison” (Deuteronomy 29:18).
To Be Continued…