Son of Zilpah, Leah's maid, and Jacob (Gen. 30.10–11), and one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name Gad is associated with the Hebrew word for fortune. In early Israel Gad is both populous (Gen. 46.16; Num. 26.15–18) and adept in battle (Gen. 49.19; Deut. 33.20–21; 1 Chron. 5.18; 12.8–14). The Gadites, together with Reuben and half of Manasseh, settle in the Transjordan, an area suited for their abundant cattle (Num. 32.26; Map 1:Y4). The Gadites support Saul and his family (1 Sam. 31.11–13; 2 Sam. 2.8–9), aid David (1 Chron. 12.8–14), and participate in his administration (2 Sam. 23.36).
Gad fares poorly during the divided monarchy. King Mesha of Moab (ca. 835 BCE) claims that he dealt harshly with the Gadites of Ataroth (see Moabite Stone). Hazael of Damascus (Syria) devastates Gad (2 Kings 10.32–33). Subsequently, Tiglath‐pileser III of Assyria exiles the Transjordanian tribes (2 Kings 15.29).
Gad can also refer to a foreign deity (Isa. 65.11), a seer during the time of David (1 Sam. 22.5; 2 Sam. 24.11–14), or an organizer of levitical service and chronicler of David's life (1 Chron. 29.29).
Gary N. Knoppers