The name Gad in the Bible
There are two or three 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, the Gadites (גדי), would be one of the twelve tribes of Israel. His tribe settled east of the Jordan, just north of Reuben. This Gad is also mentioned in the New Testament (spelled Γαδ; Revelation 7:5).
- The lesser known human Gad is a prophet in the time of David (1 Samuel 22:5).
- In Isaiah 65:11 the prophet seems to refer to an idol named Gad (also see the name Baal-gad) apparently in conjunction with the god Meni.
Etymology of the name Gad
The name Gad comes from the verb גדד (gadad), meaning to cut or invade:
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, chose this painful word גד, 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 accused 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 exchanged a harvest of mandrakes for the right to sleep with Jacob, and Leah conceived 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 NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Good Fortune. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has the same, but adds Good Luck.
A more accurate translation would be Harrowing Fortune.