J. R. Charlesworth, Barnstaple
Leah claimed Gad (and Asher) in the same way as Rachel adopted Dan and Naphtali. Actually Gad was the son of Zilpah, Leah s maid, and was the seventh of what was ultimately to become a family of thirteen children.
The Words of Jacob, "Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last", Gen. 49. 19. In the Hebrew there is a play on the monosyllabic name: "Gadgedud ytgud-ennu vehu yagud akev". The emphasis upon the warlike character of Gad, a word meaning "company", "army", or "troop", is plain. More than once the sacred record tells us that the Gadites were well trained warriors, valiant and skilful, 1 Chron. 5. 18; 12. 8. They knew both defeat and victory, those of David's day being happy to share his mixed fortunes from his stay at Ziklag to his final triumph.
In Gad we see support for the motto: "Like father, like son". The river they crossed to assist their brethren when entering Canaan, Josh. 22. 1-5, and again to help David, 1 Chron. 12. 15, was significantly the river their father had crossed years before. Jacob reflected: "With my staff I passed over this Jordan (alone in defeat); and now I am become two bands (a company in success)", Gen. 32. 10. For father and son, life was a chequered pathway crossing both the depression of defeat and the elation of success. (As an aside let it also be mentioned that "Gad" was the name of a* Canaanite god of "Fortune" or "Luck", but Jacob and his son well knew that with Jehovah nothing happens by chance. Rough north wind and warm south wind, Song of Songs 4. 16, are alike under His control).
The Words of Moses, "Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad", Deut. 33. 20. Having a "great multitude of cattle", this tribe chose to settle on the rich pastureland east of Jordan, with Reuben to the south and half the people of Manasseh to the north. This position left them open to attack by marauding brigands. Such enemies, however, reckoned without the Gadites' faith in the Mighty One of Israel. On one occasion it is specifically said that the Gadites "cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them; because they put their trust in him"., i Chron. 5. 20. So the gallant Gadites were established in Gilead. "They got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hast a favour unto them", Ps. 44. 3.
Moses traced the course of their success to its true source: "Blessed be God, our God".
This concept of God enlarging, or widening, Gad's territory is the primary thought in Moses' mind. Not only were they enabled to hold the many square miles of Gilead, but they acquired extra ground by their conquest of the Hagarites.
Thinking of Israel as a whole, one spans prophetic years to listen to die nation's testimony when relieved from their besieged constriction at the close of the tribulation period: "I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place", Ps. 118. 5. David's song will then broaden in application: "He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me because he delighted in me", 18. 19. God's thoughts for His Son will become His thoughts for His people.
The Gadites in Gilead must have received considerable revenue from the sale of the famous balm, Gen. 37. 25; Jer. 8. 22; 46. 11. This medicinal "balm of Gilead" was produced from some kind of aromatic gum. We are transported in thought to the spiritual healing of the Great Physician.
"He dwelleth as a lioness, and teareth the arm, yea, the crown of the head", Deut. 33. 20 R.v. Moses here referred to the warlike quality of Gad already noted. In Micah 2. 13 we find the Messiah as He breaks forth prophetically to lead the remnant of Israel. When the crucial battle of all time was fought at Calvary the sun stood in the heavens and was there darkened for three hours. Then the Warrior bowed in apparent defeat; yet "He shall overcome at the last". Cf. Revelation 19. 11. Hallelujah! He will lead His own forth into a large place.
The Lord highlights • this Gadite nature still further by identifying the tribe with the hard, valuable diamond. The Hebrew yahalom probably carries the force "to break in pieces"; cf. Ezek. 3. 9. The Gadites were blessed in being powerful against God's enemies and precious to the progress of God's people. All our other struggles will remain ineffectual unless we are in a corresponding place of blessing, there to be made powerful to repulse Satan and yet precious to advance the cause of Christ.
"He provided the first part for himself, for there was the lawgiver's portion reserved; and he came with the heads of the people", Deut. 33. 21 R.V. Gad's happiness in the land of his early choice increased only to the extent that he was willing to help his brethren with their campaigns. Similarly we are to look each of us "to the things of others", Phil. 2. 4 r.v. A vital ingredient for congenial assembly life is embodied in the principle of such assistance.
"He executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel". Jephthah, rejected by his own people of Gad., rose to this executive situation as judge. Barzillai and Elijah were two later Gadites or Gileadites to exhibit similar traits and recognize the Lord's "judgments with Israel", 2 Sam. 17. 27-29; 1 Kings 17. 1.