Who Are the Tribe of Gad?

We talk a lot about the famous tribes of Israel like the tribe of Benjamin and Judah, but what about the tribe of Gad? This under-discussed tribe has a surprising history that goes all the way back the day its founder was born.

Freelance writer
Updated Jun 27, 2022
Who Are the Tribe of Gad?

Unlike most of the other sons of Jacob that had prominent places in the Bible, such as Joseph and Judah, Gad is overlooked by many Bible scholars and people who read the Holy Scriptures. Hence, not many people know much about the Tribe of Gad. Yet, Gad was born under quarrelsome circumstances, and the tribe descended from him has an important place in the Jewish race’s history.  

Who Were Gad and the Gadites?

Gad was one of the 12 sons born to Jacob. The descendants of Gad later became a tribe and chose to dwell on Jordan’s east river, which was the entrance to the Promised Land. Gad was the seventh child born to Jacob. He was born to Leah’s maid Zilpah in Padanaram. He and the rest of his brothers make up the twelve tribes of Israel. It was later on that the sons of Jacob came to be called the Twelve Patriarchs of Israel.

The Tribe of Gad Was a Warrior Tribe

During the birth of Gad, Leah burst out in prophetic utterance: “A troop cometh” (Genesis 30: 11 KJV). The word troop points to several things, such as a soldier, warrior, and fierce fighter, as well as other meanings. Gad and his descendants, the Gadites, were known to be fierce warriors who would not back down from a fight so easily.

It was during the conquest of the Promised Land that the Gadites’ fighting ability was noted. As Israel passed through the land, the Gadites and the tribe of Rueben saw fertile land that they wanted to settle on. They made their intention known to Moses, who thought they would withdraw from the battles ahead in favor of early settlement on the land. The tribes quickly rejected Moses’ assumption and agreed to continue fighting until all of Israel received their inheritance.

Moses’ Challenge to the Tribe of God

“Are you going to stay here while the rest of the Israelites go to war?” (Numbers 32:6 KJV). In the Lord’s presence, have all your armed men get ready for battle. Have them cross the Jordan and fight until the Lord forces out His enemies and the land is conquered” (Numbers 32:20-22 KJV).

When the Gadites agreed to stand and fight until Israel’s inheritance was secured, Moses wasn’t sure they would keep their word. Therefore, he told them they should prove their seriousness by not leaving the people to fight alone. Instead, they should be involved in every battle until the land was secured, and it was only then that they should return to their inheritance across the Jordan River. The Gadites agreed to fight until Israel was completely successful. The decision made by the Gadites to fight the enemies of Israel until the Israelites had won on every side of the Promised Land showed their true warrior courage.  

The Tribe of Gad Kept Their Promise

The Reubenites and the Gadites both kept to their promise. They fought ahead of Israel and won many battles. After the death of Moses, Joshua gave the tribes of Reuben and Gad the right to return to the Promised Land gateway and claim their territories, which they did.

The Settlement of the Tribe of Gad

After the battles were over and Israel won the war, Gad’s tribe returned to their territory and devoted themselves to building the ruined places destroyed during the fighting. They built Dibon, Beth Haran, Jazer, Aroer, Ataroth, Atroth Shophan, Jogbehah, and Beth Nimrah. In addition, they built walled fences so that their people and livestock would be safe from the troublesome inhabitants still residing in some locations. The land that the Gadites chose to settle on was rich for livestock rearing and would no doubt prove to be a blessing to Jacob’s descendants living there.

The descendants of Gad living in the gateway of the Promised Land had to remain strong since they were the ones any enemy trying to enter the land would face first. They were the guardian of their Israelite brothers and sisters. If they fall in battle, there is a good chance that the entire Israel armies from the rest of the tribes will be defeated.

The 10 tribes of Israel living in the northern region of the Promised Land eventually became known as the independent Kingdom of Israel. Benjamin and Judah, which occupied the south country, ended up forming the Kingdom of Judah.   

The Tribe of Gad Becomes Lost

In 1721 BC, the Gadites and nine other tribes of Israel (Asher, Naphtali, Reuben, Zebulun, Simeon, Dan, Issachar, Ephraim, and Manasseh) all became known as the Lost Tribes of Israel. The tribes seemingly became lost after they were incorporated by other people from various nations and cultures.

The Assyrians conquered the Ten Tribes of Israel and sent them into exile. Since then, the tribes have never been heard of again.

However, Christianity Today reported in 2004 that people belonging to the Lost Tribe of Manasseh might have been found. The article went on to say that it is yet up to the Israeli authorities to determine if the claim is correct and if those persons who maintain such a claim have the ‘right of return’ to the established state of Israel.     

The Blessing of Jacob to Gad

“Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels” (Genesis 49:19 KJV).

Over the years, Gad grew to become a mighty tribe, one which many other armies dare not contend with. Jacob’s prophecy about his son Gad and the Gadites meant that life would not be easy for the tribe. Raiders would constantly attack them; yet, while things might seem hopeless because of the constant interference of attacking armies, the tribe will not go under. Instead, they will rally and tenaciously fight for what belongs to them and, in the end, will be victorious. The Gadites had the true nature of warriors simply because they were born to be warriors, fighting men who would not be easily silenced.

The Blessings of Moses to the Tribe of Gad

“Blessed be He who expands Gad; he dwells like a young lion and rips off the arm [of his prey] together with the skull” (Deut. 33:20 AMP).

“Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last” (Deuteronomy 49:19 (KJV).

Gad, Jacob’s seventh beloved son, was indeed a man of war, and his descendants followed in his footsteps. Moses’ prophetic words prove that Leah calling her son a man of war was prophetic and let us know what Gad’s tribe was like.  

Moses’ blessings signified that the tribe was not a walkover by other armies of the world. With such blessed words coming from a man of God such as Moses, God’s servant, there is no doubt that God was upholding the hand of the Gadites and will give them victory over their enemies. During their occupation of the Eastern Jordan River, the tribe continuously waged war against the enemies of Israel, the Philistines.  

The Blessing of Joshua on the Tribe of Gad

“Then Joshua called the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh; and he said unto them. Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you: Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. And now the Lord your God hath given rest unto your brethren as He promised them; therefore, now return ye, and get you unto your tents and the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side Jordan. But take diligent heed to do the commandment of the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and to cleave unto Him, and to serve Him will all your heart and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them and sent them away and they went unto their tents” (Joshua 22:1-6 KJV).

Before Joshua died, he made sure to call the warriors who spearheaded the battles unto him. These were the Gadites, Reubenites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. These three tribes kept their promise and saw Israel home to the finish line and this meant that they were worthy of the blessing they received from their general, Joshua.

The blessing of God upon them meant that as long as they remained faithful to the God of Israel, they would prosper in the land of their inheritance. This leaves many people questioning why they were defeated by the Assyrians and sent into exile. The only answer to why they were defeated is that they may have turned away from the one true and living Jehovah God who guided them those 40 years in the wilderness and brought them into their Promised Land.

What We Can Learn from the Tribe of Gad

As we closely examine the Tribe of Gad, we should consider our own role in this world. There is a saying that says, “Christianity is not a bed of roses,” so we are expected to stand and fight for the faith as true soldiers of Christ.

Further Reading:

What Does the Bible Say about the Tribe of Issachar?

What Do We Know about Jacob's Daughter Dinah?

What Does the Bible Tell Us about Asher?

Why Did God Choose the 12 Sons of Jacob to Set the Foundation of Israel?

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Avesun

Lancelot Tucker is a book author and freelance writer who writes on a vast amount of topics. In addition, he serves as an associate pastor in his hometown, Spanish Town. Lancelot loves to do research and write, and is an avid reader of other authors' works. When not writing or reading, he spends his time reaching out to the less fortunate residing in his community.

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