Monday, May 23, 2011

Genesis 49:19 Jacob's Blessing: Gad

"Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels."

Genesis 49:19 (NIV)


Gad was the son of Zilpah, Leah's maidservant.  Leah had given Zilpah to Jacob as a wife when she thought she had stopped being able to have children.  (Genesis 30:9) (However, later Leah bore Jacob two more sons and a daughter.)  When Leah saw the son of Jacob and Zilpah, she uttered an exclamation that could be interpreted either "What good fortune!" or "A troop is coming!"  Since this was in the middle of what I have called 'the Battle of the Babies', both meanings are probably present:  Leah was delighted to see that another son was being presented to Jacob from 'her' side of this battle for Jacob's affection, and she believed that even more sons would be coming along in the future, much like reinforcements in a battle.

Gad's name also is similar to the word for "press", as in a raider pressing forward in battle.  Jacob indicates to Gad that in the future, he will be involved in battles against those who sought to raid him.  At times these raiders would be successful, but in the end, Gad would 'attack them at their heels', i.e., as these raiders fled.  By these words, Jacob was assuring Gad that he would ultimately be successful.

In I Chronicles 12:8-14, the Gadites were compared to lions "...Their faces were the faces of lions,..." and also to gazelles "...and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains." (v.8)

Gad's inheritance was on the other side of the Jordan, and this tribe was subject to raids from Moabites and Ammonites, who would attack their rather exposed position.  At times these raiders would be successful, for the Israelites sometimes fell into idolatry (Judges 10:6-10) and the Lord would correct them by allowing their enemies to overcome them until they turned back to him.

Ultimately, Gad, along with the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh which assisted them, routed these raiders and lived in their portion of the land until the exile.  (I Chronicles 5:18-22)  The Chronicler makes sure that we realize that the Gadites' success was due to the Lord helping them:
  • "...God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle..."  (v.20)
  • "...He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him." (v.20)
  • "...and many others fell slain, because the battle was God's..." (v.21)

...The lessons for our own battles are obvious.

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