Bible Studies,  The Tribes Of Israel

The Tribe Of Gad

Some say that Elijah and Jepthah was among them, though others count Jephthah among the Manassites. As I had written about Jephthah under Joseph, I wanted to at least address this here, but I mention it for another reason.  There are possibilities concerning this one or that one descending from Gad, yet I wanted to focus on those in this chapter, who were unquestionably Gadites.

Gad himself was born in a strange position.  He was the son of Zilpah, who had been Leah’s servant.  Now she was somewhat elevated to the position of fourth wife of Jacob, yet still in the Leah camp.  Gad knew what it was like to have a complicated heritage.

His Mother was Zilpah, but the reason he was in the world was Leah.  The two were no doubt united in the chain of events, but it had to make for some awkward family interactions.  Is it any wonder that Gad, one of the sons of Zilpah resented Joseph in Genesis 37:2?

Gad was viewed by Leah as reinforcements in the war with her sister.  She had produced five sons for Jacob at this point, then Rachel had Jacob marry Bilhah, giving birth to Dan.  Leah recruited her servant to produce another son for their side. Gad means troop, and Leah named him in Genesis 30:11.

As an adopted parent, this is all fascinating.  You see, Nicholas Asher shares his name because of the naming of both Ashley, me, and his birth mother.  We had chosen Nicholas, and she asked that we use Asher in the middle name.  As we both wanted a Biblical name, and his Momma’s name is Ashley, we readily agreed. Now, I could think of nothing else than Nicholas Asher.

I wonder if Gad was close to Aunt Leah?  If you know me, it’s no secret that Leah was my favorite.  Leah, whether beautiful or not, was considered less so than her sister.  As I’ve felt most of my life as somewhat of an ugly duckling myself, I always rooted for her. 

We don’t know how the boy interacted with her, but we do know he wasn’t too fond of the Rachel side of the camp, Joseph being Rachel’s son.  Family strife should be avoided at all cost, because it doesn’t only affect the adults, it can have a profound impact on your children’s future, and future relationships.

I wonder if he dreamed of being a great warrior as a child?  The Bible says he was one of those who watched Jacob’s flocks.  Can you imagine him pretending his little shepherd’s staff was a sword? Perhaps swatting against an imaginary horde of marauders to defend his Father’s flock?

Genesis 46:16 (ESV Strong’s)

16 The sons of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.

Beyond his reaction to Joseph, and the events connected to the journey into Egypt, we don’t know much about him.  We do know, he is the seventh son of Jacob, and that he gave birth to seven sons of his own. 

Ziphion or look-out, Haggi festive, Shuni fortunate, Ezbon hastening to understand, Eri watchful, Arodi I shall roam, and Areli meaning Lion Of God. These were the meanings behind the names of the boys.  It should be noted that in Scripture, the number seven is important. However, the Scripture does not place the mythical attributes rumor does on the meaning of the seventh son of a seventh son.

I mention it, not because of any folklore, but because of The Spiritual significance of the number seven.  Seven represents completion, and perhaps Gad did not feel complete until his quiver of children housed seven arrows.  Gad, or the troop, as his name means, began with a look-out, and ended with Lion Of God.

Genesis 49:19 (KJV)

19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

This tribe, as much, if not more than any other, is associated with warfare.  Even at the bedside of Jacob, while others received prophecies of various things, Gad’s course was clear, there would be battles, there would be defeats, but there would be final victory.

Deuteronomy 33:20-21 (ESV Strong’s)

20 And of Gad he said, “Blessed be he who enlarges Gad! Gad crouches like a lion; he tears off arm and scalp.

21 He chose the best of the land for himself, for there a commander’s portion was reserved; and he came with the heads of the people, with Israel he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments for Israel.”

Jacob spoke of his son in one Verse, Moses gave him two.  Each man addressed Israel before they passed. As far as I can recall, these are the only two men who addressed Israel in this manner before dying.  David gave a farewell address, but did not specifically speak to each tribe the way Jacob and Moses had.

Moses had seen first hand both the commitment of Gad in battle, and to The Work Of God. They had promised Moses, if they were allowed to inherit on the one side of Jordan, that they would go over and fight for the rest of the tribes.  I believe this gave a personal connection between Moses and Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh.

In these two verses, Moses prophesies that Gad will be enlarged.  This prophecy is fulfilled in the days of Saul, when they, the Reubenites, and the Manassites defeated the Hagarites and enlarged their territory.  

Moses refers to them as crouching like a Lion.  In The Bible, Men of war were referred to as Lion Like.  The term is used referencing a man of Moab that Benaiah the son of Jehoidah faced, and the warriors from Gad that came to support David in 1 Chronicles.  

Before we talk about them, let’s talk about the fact that Gad boarded Ammon and Moab.  Moses predicted that Gad would be warriors.  God placed the warriors as a buffer between the enemy and the other tribes.  The Lord calls Prayer Warriors to guard the flock against the attacks of the enemy.

We must never allow our defenses to be down when it comes to our prayers for our Church.  We may not all be called to speak, or to sing, but we are all called to prayer.  Praying for the Church is not a dormant activity, but the action of a warrior.  

Jesus did not escape to speak, but He did withdraw to pray.  He prayed, because He was both God and Man, Spirit and Flesh, but He also prayed for our example.  No matter how great the work of God, no matter how great the impact the Ministry God has called us to is, we must never forsake our prayer life.

There are many things that can be overdone, but I’ve never met someone who prayed too much, have you?  Jesus never said the Pharisees prayed too much, just that they prayed in public for man’s attention.  True Prayer Warriors pray when nobody is looking, and often.

A warrior must be practiced in battle. This is not only about familiarity with their weapons, but the skills it takes to use them.  In Ephesians 6, we often quote the list of Verses concerning the weapons of our warfare, but Verse 18 sometimes gets left out.

Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Verse 18 is as much a part of the weapons as the others.  It’s the daily drill of prayer that makes possible those breakthrough prayers that alter landscapes, change futures, and salvage the souls nearest hell!

There is an old story about a group of soldiers who were confined to camp.  One got in trouble when he came back.  They asked where he had been, and he explained that he went to pray.  The Commander ordered him to prove it by praying then.  

When the young man finished, the Commander let him go without charge. His subordinate asked why.  The Commander said that he couldn’t be so skilled unless he had been often at drill.  

When you see a great soldier of the Cross, you recognize them.  Whether it’s a Prayer Warrior, a Pastor, or Worship Leader, their life reflects their faith, their character, and their consistency.  

Today, I’d like to look at some of the warriors in the family of Gad.  With the exception of the argument that Jephthah and Elijah might be Gadites, they’re are not a lot of famous people listed.  I don’t mind that, I enjoy visiting those who may not immediately come to mind.

One is found by reference in Numbers 1:14, and then again in Numbers 2:14.  His son is the subject of each verse, but I was drawn to the Dad, as his name is different in the second chapter of his life than it is in the first chapter.

Numbers 1:14 (KJV)

14 Of Gad; Eliasaph the son of Deuel.

Numbers 2:14 (KJV Strong’s)

14 Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel.

In one place he is called Deuel, and in another Reuel.  While there can be confusion between the r and the d in Hebrew, I don’t believe a scribe made a mistake here.  The R and D in Hebrew are Resh and Dalet. 

I have an opinion about him, but it’s only an opinion.  I believe that, either like Saul/Paul, he had a name change, or he was called both names. Let me tell you why.

The Hebrew alphabet is fascinating.  What I loved about it was the revelation years ago from linguists, that each letter represents more than just a letter. For example, Resh is the fourth letter of the alphabet, while Dalet is the 20th.  One, Resh represents a head, while Dalet represents a door, or fish.

I’m not a linguist, I do well to manage with English, but I will tell you this.  Deuel means “They know God”, Reuel means “Friend of God”.  There is a huge difference between knowing about God, and being a friend of God.  Abram began his journey knowing about God, Abraham was God’s friend.

All we get about this man was that he was from Gad, and that his son Eliasaph was the Captain of the tribe.  Eliasaph means God is gatherer, or God as added.  Since it’s most likely that Reuel had a hand in naming his son, don’t you think he did more than know about God?

My question for those who read today is this, do you know God as well as you know about Him? It’s so easy, in the work of God, to become more focused on the work than The God Who called us.  If you have, you’re human, and we’ve all done it at some point. 

The key is to, ask God to forgive you, not for what you are doing, but why we were doing it.  God loves that you love His work, but like any Father, He wants us to love Him more than what we do for Him, or through Him.  When we do this, the work will be richer, because we get to spend time with our Heavenly Father, Who we love, doing what we love to do.

1 Chronicles 12:8 (KJV)

8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains;

These were the men that were, as I referenced earlier, warriors with faces like lions, and swifter than roes or gazelles upon the mountains.  These men did a few things. 

First, they separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness.  They knew that, once joining David, there was no going back.  Saul would not have accepted them back, not that they would have made that choice.  They chose David knowingly, and willingly, with full knowledge of the consequences.

They’re are consequences in joining to what God has called you too.  Once you join, if you go back, He would not stop you, but things will never be the same.  Backsliding doesn’t make you happy, in fact, it does only the opposite.  I encourage you to make your decision today, for whatever God wants you to do, and never waiver from it.

Second, they were men of might. They had proven themselves in battle.  They weren’t just talkers, they were doers.  In the last day, we need doers of The Word, and not just hearers only.

Third, they were fit for the battle.  At first glance you may ask, isn’t that the same as being men of might, no it isn’t.  They had proven in battle yes, but they were still fit for the battle.  They had kept themselves in shape to fight.  Spiritually, we must not only have achieved a level of Spiritual victory, we must maintain our Spiritual lives.

This is done, not only through prayer and faithfulness, but through attending the House Of God.  We must not, especially in these last days, neglect our spiritual shape.  They’re more important today than even they were yesterday.

Next, the KJV says they could handle shield and buckler.  The ESV says they could handle shield and spear.   One type of shield is the large shield that protects the body.  The other shield, a buckler was small and round. Whether the Scripture was referring to two types of shield, or shield and spear, both indicate knowledge of the tools of warfare.

Finally it mentions they’re faces like lions, and being as fast as the roes.  David didn’t only need men who could fight, he needed men that could travel quickly.  There were times he needed to pursue in battle, and there were times they needed to flee from Saul. Be what your Leader needs, when they need it. They’re may not be time for you to learn on the job when the hour comes.

We are given eleven names of the leaders of these warriors.  Before we look at them, I want to draw your attention to verse 14.  The KJV says the least was over a hundred, the greatest a thousand, but John Gill says it’s not referring to troops under them. He is saying, scholars explain that the least of them was a match for one hundred men, and the greatest could stand against a thousand.  

They were all warriors, they all had experience, but they’re skill level was not the same.  I would assume some of these men were well seasoned, others may be newer in the army, or that some simply had another level of skill.

All of them were Captains, all great men.  All of tremendous value, but some were equipped to fight a hundred, and others to stand down a thousand.  We are equipped by God, to face certain battles, but we’re not equipped to face them alone.   

Surround yourself with the people God has placed in your life.  Lead those He has called you to Captain, but reach out to those He has placed in your life to support you as well.

It would have been a travesty if one of them who could take down a hundred men tried to face a thousand.  It would have been a waste for the one who could face a thousand, stopped at a few hundred men.  We are all called to a place, a battle, and a war. Know where, and to what God has called you too.

God mentions eleven Gadites by name here.  Out of them, I’d like to mention only two.  In the first Verse, The Bible says there were warriors who came to David when he could not move freely because of Saul.  These Gadites were among them.

The first was Ezer, or treasure.  Attai the sixth means opportune, from a root word meaning timely or fit.  Can you imagine how grateful David was, when he couldn’t move around freely, to get some men who actually knew how to fight? God was saying, I didn’t just leave you in the hold to run from Saul.  I’m sending you, not only warriors, but Captains.  

An exile doesn’t need Captains, but a King does.  God used these men to reassure David, that he would get to where God had promised to take him.  Whether you’re the David in your story, or the Gadite meant to encourage him, I challenge you to fulfill your calling.  

A lot of people didn’t get mentioned by name in Scripture, but these eleven men did.  They were so important to God and David, that they were recorded.  When you support the leaders God has placed in your life, you will be more than blessed, you will be a greater thing. You will be a blessing!

Since we talked earlier about Gad being the seventh son, and him having seven sons; I can’t let this pass without addressing the seventh person named in the group of Gadites. His name was Eliel, and his name means “My God Is God”, nothing much more needs to be said.

The reason Leah rejoiced when Gad, or her troop came, was because she believed that her God fought for her.  Zilpah’s child changed her position in the family of God, from a servant to a member of the house.  Gad may have had issues as a young man, but we know from the name of his last son meaning Lion Of God, Who that Gad trusted in.

Song of Songs 6:4 (KJV)

4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.

When God fights for you, and you’re committed to His will and service, you will be, as Solomon described, as terrible as an army with banners.  In other words, each of us are as strong as a Gadite.  

I return again to 1 Chronicles Chapter Twelve and Verse fourteen. Was it not appropriate that it is said of Gad, or the “Troops” descendants that one was the equivalent of a small army?  Verse fifteen though, takes things further still.

1 Chronicles 12:14-15 (KJV)

14 These were of the sons of Gad, captains of the host: one of the least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand. 

15 These are they that went over Jordan in the first month, when it had overflown all his banks; and they put to flight all them of the valleys, both toward the east, and toward the west.

These men crossed Jordan at the time of flooding, a challenge all it’s own, and put to flight all of the enemies in the valleys. Some scholars say it was Philistines who had occupied cities in Israel after Saul’s death. Other’s say it was Moabites who had attacked.

Regardless of which foe they faced, they put them to flight.  Again Gill, said they would have had to swim through the Jordan, running the risk at it’s flooding state, of being swept away, just to fight the enemies of David, and of Israel.

The eleventh man, and last in the group, is Machbanai. His name meant bond of The Lord.  When you bind your heart and hope with God’s love and will, you will cross rivers.  You will overcome the enemies in your valley, and you will stand victorious as part of God’s army.  

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: