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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Gad

Gad Gad

There are two Gads mentioned in the Bible. The famous Gad is the seventh son of Jacob and the first son of Zilpah, Leah's maid (Genesis 30:11). Gad's descendants would be one of the twelve tribes of Israel. His tribe settled east of the Jordan.
The lesser known Gad is a prophet in the time of David (1 Samuel 22:5).

This peculiar name comes from the verb gadad (gadad), meaning to cut, invade. When 49:19 Jacob blesses his sons on his deathbed, he says of Gad:

Genesis 49v19

According to HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, in nine out of eleven occurrences this verb specifcally refers to an act of self laceration in an act of worship (1 Kings 18:28). Its derivatives, however, reveal a deeper meaning:

• The noun gedud (gedud), meaning a band of raiders;
• The identical word gedud (gedud), meaning furrow, cutting; and
• The noun Gad (gad), possibly meaning fortune, but the meaning of the only Biblical occurrence of this noun is debated (Isaiah 65:11).

It seems that the verb indicates a cutting with the distinct purpose of laying a treasure bare. The ritualistic cutting results in the exposure of precious blood, and a raid produces loot.

The name Gad indicates a fortune for which a troublesome, invasive effort is made. There are plenty of words to indicate treasure or felicity, but Leah who named the son of her maid, chooses this painful word Gad, Gad.

Perhaps the reason for this is that she gave Zilpah to Jacob only because she could not conceive anymore. In those days, that was pretty awful, even though she had already given her husband four sons. Subsequently, she harshly accuses her sister Rachel of stealing her husband (30:15). Jacob loved Rachel, after all, and Leah probably didn't conceive because Jacob wasn't sleeping with her anymore.

Leah and Rachel exchange a harvest of mandrakes for the right to sleep with Jacob, and Leah conceives again. Her fifth son, Issachar, she names after the word for wage, because, she says, God gave me my wage for I gave my maid to my husband. After son five Jacob keeps coming around, and Leah gives birth to one more son and a daughter; Jacob's only.

The name Gad tells of a wife's deep anguish, shame and loneliness.

For the meaning of Gad, the NOBS Study Bible Name List reads Good Fortune. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has the same, but ads Good Luck.

A more accurate translation would be Harrowing Fortune.

A related name is Megiddo.



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