1. Son of Jacob by Leah’s maidservant Zilpah, who also bore Gad’s younger brother Asher. At his birth in Paddan-aram about 1770 B.C.E., Leah exclaimed: “With good fortune!”; hence the name Gad. (Ge 30:9-13; 35:26) Gad accompanied his brothers on two trips to Egypt to get grain from Joseph. (Ge 42:3; 43:15) He was about 42 years old when he and his family moved to Egypt along with his father Jacob in 1728 B.C.E. (Ge 46:6, 7, 16) Seventeen years later, when Jacob was about to die, he blessed his 12 sons, saying of Gad: “As for Gad, a marauder band will raid him, but he will raid the extreme rear.”—Ge 49:1, 2, 19.
2. The tribe that sprang from the seven sons of Gad. The tribe’s warriors numbered 45,650 in the second year after the Exodus from Egypt. (Ge 46:16; Nu 1:1-3, 24, 25) Gad was in the three-tribe division with Reuben and Simeon. Their campsite was to the S of the tabernacle. (Nu 2:10-16) When on the march Judah’s division was first, followed by the Levites of the families of Gershon and Merari carrying the tabernacle, and after them came the division of which Gad was a part. Eliasaph son of Deuel was chieftain of their army. (Nu 10:14-20) At the end of the wilderness journey, the fighting men of Gad numbered but 40,500, a decrease of 5,150.—Nu 26:15-18.
Territory. The men of the tribe of Gad followed the occupation of their fathers as raisers of livestock. (Ge 46:32) For this reason they requested as their allotment of territory the cattle country E of the Jordan. Moses responded by assigning this territory to Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, who also possessed much livestock. However, Moses stipulated that this was on the condition that these tribes would assist the others in subduing the territory W of the Jordan. To this they readily agreed, and after constructing stone pens for their livestock and cities for their little ones, they supplied their quota of fighters to cross the Jordan for the conquest of the land. (Nu 32:1-36; Jos 4:12, 13) Gad’s territory had been occupied by the Amorites, whom the Israelites had defeated under Moses’ leadership.—Nu 32:33; De 2:31-36; 3:8-20.
The country occupied by Gad was comprised of the lowlands along most of the Jordan River’s E bank, S almost to the Dead Sea, and N to near the Sea of Chinnereth. Gad’s territory also took in the higher tablelands, including the torrent valley of Jabbok. A large part of Gilead was therefore in Gad’s allotment. (De 3:12, 13) Gad was bordered on the N by Manasseh and on the S by Reuben.—Jos 13:24-28.
After the conquest of the land, Joshua gave Gad a share in the spoil and sent them back. Gad then joined with Reuben and Manasseh in constructing a great altar by the Jordan. The other tribes were alarmed at this but were calmed when it was explained that the altar was built as a witness that they, like the tribes W of the Jordan, would engage exclusively in the worship of Jehovah. The altar was to provide assurance that there was no division between the tribes E and W of the Jordan.—Jos 22:1-34.
All these things were in harmony with Jacob’s blessing of Gad: “As for Gad, a marauder band will raid him, but he will raid the extreme rear.” (Ge 49:19) The tribe was not afraid to have one side (the E) of their boundary open to marauder bands. They did not choose to live on the eastern highlands just to get out of fighting for the land of Canaan. Jacob’s parting words to Gad were as a command to strike back confidently at marauders attacking him and violating his borders. Moreover, the Gadites raided the raiders, making these turn about in flight, and then the Gadites would pursue their extreme rear.
Moses also spoke of Gad’s good qualities when he said: “Blessed is the one widening the borders of Gad. As a lion he must reside, and he must tear the arm, yes, the crown of the head. And he will pick out the first part for himself, for there the allotment of a statute-giver is reserved. And the heads of the people will gather themselves together. The righteousness of Jehovah will he certainly execute and his judicial decisions with Israel.”—De 33:20, 21.
Ramoth of Gilead, in Gad’s territory, was one of the cities of refuge appointed by Moses. (De 4:41-43) Other Levite cities in their territory were Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer. (Jos 21:38, 39) The city of Dibon, where the famous Moabite Stone was found in 1868 C.E., was one of several cities rebuilt by the Gadites when they took over the territory.—Nu 32:1-5, 34, 35.
Gad Gave David Support. When David was under restrictions because of Saul, several army heads of the sons of Gad crossed the Jordan River at flood stage to come to his side at Ziklag in Judah. They are described as “valiant, mighty men, army men for the war, keeping the large shield and the lance ready, whose faces were the faces of lions, and they were like the gazelles upon the mountains for speed. . . . The least one was equal to a hundred, and the greatest to a thousand.” (1Ch 12:1, 8-15) In the fight with the Hagrites and their allies, it is said of them (along with Reuben and Manasseh): “It was to God that they called for aid in the war, and he let himself be entreated in their favor because they trusted in him.” As a result, an enormous number of captives and much livestock fell into their hands.—1Ch 5:18-22.
Followed Jeroboam. With the division of the kingdom, the tribe of Gad supported the northern faction under Jeroboam. Years later, in Jehu’s day, when “Jehovah started to cut off Israel piece by piece,” Gad in its exposed position on the eastern frontier became part of the battleground between the northern kingdom of Israel and Syria. (2Ki 10:32, 33) Finally, Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria, overran Gad and carried off the inhabitants captive. This allowed the Ammonites to take possession of this territory.—2Ki 15:29; 1Ch 5:26; Jer 49:1.
In Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of the division of the land, the portion assigned to Gad is in the extreme S. (Eze 48:27, 28) In the listing of the tribes of Israel in Revelation chapter 7, Gad is named third.
3. A prophet and visionary. He advised David, when he was dwelling in “the inaccessible place” in the cave of Adullam as a fugitive from Saul, to return to Judah. (1Sa 22:1-5) When David presumptuously took a census toward the latter part of his reign, Jehovah by means of Gad gave David three alternative punishments. Gad later advised David to build an altar for Jehovah on the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan). (2Sa 24:10-19; 1Ch 21:9-19) Gad was partially responsible for the organization of the musicians for the sanctuary. (2Ch 29:25) Nathan and Gad are generally credited with completing First Samuel and writing all of Second Samuel.—1Ch 29:29.