Abram was the first in scripture to be called 'Hebrew'. Why? What does it mean? Is it only referring to the lineage that Abram descended from? Or, is there an understanding of this discriptive term that also applies to us, as Believers In Christ? This writing explores this concept.
The Sons of Jacob / Israel
Gad; A House Being Divided
As the story of Jacob, as revealed through the names of his sons, continues to unfold we see a continuing saga of chaos, disharmony and turmoil. We read of the ongoing patterns that reveal the painful growth of a family that is experiencing all of the symptoms of dysfunction and crisis that many of us can recognize in our own family histories. These inevitable malfunctions are the predictable events that are insured by a household consisting of one husband, two wives that are competitive sisters, and two concubines that are under the authoritative management of the individual sisters. A lifestyle of this making is destined for trouble, and as the crescendo increases, also increases the likelihood of a major disruption, or split. Jacob’s family troubles are getting worse, and can only go downhill from here. This broken and splintered family that is developing is indeed the beginnings of ‘Jacob’s trouble’ that Jeremiah wrote about, which all began to spin out of control when Jacob was willing to access the birthright by deception and deceit. “Oh, what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive”.
We left off following this saga with the birthing of Naphtali to Bilhah, the handmaid to Rachel. Bilhah, as you remember, was given to Rachel as handmaid by her father Laban when she married Jacob. When Leah was conceiving and birthing sons to Jacob, and Rachel could not conceive, Rachel gave her handmaid Bilhah to Jacob as a wife. Jacob dutifully sired two sons with Bilhah, whom Rachel named Dan and Naphtali. Leah also received a handmaid as gift from her father Laban. The handmaid to Leah was Zilpah, and when Leah realized that she was no longer getting pregnant, she gave her handmaid Zilpah to Jacob as wife, and Jacob, nice guy that he was, dutifully impregnated Zilpah. Zilpah bore a son to Jacob, and Leah named the child Gad. This is where this narrative of the sons of Jacob takes a conspicuous twist. Keep in mind that a major motivation of this series of articles about the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel is to show a distinct parallel of the progression of the names of these sons of Jacob with our own personal individual experiences on our journey from ‘adam’ to Christ. Jacob’s journey to an identity as Israel is synonymous with our own journey from ‘adam’ to Christ. The parallels are unmistakable. And just as Jeremiah prophesied about Jacob being saved ‘out from’ his troubles (Jeremiah 30:7), so shall all receive their ‘saving’ in Christ.
NKJ Genesis 30:9-11; “When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife. And Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, "A troop comes!" So she called his name Gad.
Of all of these ‘names’ of the sons of Jacob that have been investigated to this point, this ‘name’ of Gad was the most difficult to understand; at least for me. But if these ‘names’ of the sons of Jacob, birthed by these different women, are of any Spiritual benefit to our own understanding, we must recognize the spiritual implications of these individual ‘names’. These names have proven to reveal a progression to this point, so we must assume that Gad will also reveal a progression of spiritual illumination; once we plumb the mystery of what these names are revealing to us.
“Then Leah said, ‘A troop (gad) comes’!” Could it be that Leah is offering a prophecy, maybe even unwittingly, about the coming troubles of this tribal family that is to later be referred to as ‘Israel’?
The name ‘Gad’ has been loosely translated into English as ‘troop’. While this name may have some relevance to the quantity that this family is becoming, describing ‘gad’ as a troop does very little to reveal the spiritual chaos and dysfunction that this family is becoming. The name ‘Gad’ comes from the three-letter root verb of ‘gadad’, Strong’s # H1413 and #1414. This verb, ‘gadad’, is recognized as a cutting process; as the cutting down or felling of trees, and the cutting of stalks of grain into sheaves for harvesting. This verb also refers to the cutting into the skin of people. Many warrior cultures have a legacy of cutting into their skin to mark and scar themselves as a means of making themselves distinct from other peoples. Sometimes this is done to send terror and fear to the opposition. But it is also used as a means of motivating the ones cutting themselves into a more intense fighting mode, as if cutting into yourself will make you a more fierce antagonist. This process of cutting into skin is referred to as ‘gah-dude’, Strong’s # H1416, and is used many times throughout the Old Testament language.
There are scriptural references to this activity of cutting into self, and most of these are warnings to avoid this type behavior, for it is not becoming of the sons of God. Deut. 14:1, 1Kings 18:28 and Jeremiah 16:6 are all references to this process of marking one’s self by cutting into the skin. However, the most prevalent use of this word is in the idea of groups of people ‘cutting off’, or separating into bands or ‘troops’, for the purpose of distancing themselves from identity with others. This latter form as ‘separation’ became the most prevalent use of this word ‘gadad’, in all of its numerous forms. The most recognizable idea of the word ‘gadad’, Strong’s # H1413, was when it was used to refer to those of the family of Jacob that had ‘cut themselves off’, or separated themselves into bands or ‘troops’ to distinguish that they did not continue to identify with, nor have comradery with, their previous tribal family. Psalm 94:21, Jeremiah 5:7 and Jeremiah 47:5 are examples of this ‘separation’ by cutting off. And Micah 5:1 uses this word three times in one verse. This word is also used in Joshua 3:15 and 4:18 and Isaiah 8:7, which Strong’s designates as #H1415, where it is translated as ‘banks’, as in the banks of a river, to indicate where the rivers water ceases, and the land begins. Isaiah 8:7 is a metaphorical reference to the might of the king of Assyria coming up over his ‘banks’, describing the recognized limitations of the king of Assyria, to punish the apostate ‘people of the LORD’.
So, why would this word ‘gadad’ be used as a name for one of the sons of Jacob? What was Leah seeing, spiritually, that caused her to call this child Gad? What division or cutting off or separations did Leah sense in the birth of this son that compelled her to name him Gad? Many, in their religious musings, have described this word ‘gad’ as referring to a troop that abounds in blessing and benevolent prosperity. But if this were so, why is the most prevalent use of this verb form referring to separation, isolation and/or division? Something is wrong with the ‘theology’ that ascribes ‘gad’ to an abundance of prosperity and success. However, if we recognize that the word ‘gadad’ is referring to a time, or set of circumstances, that impel or compel an individual separation from familiar identities, then this word makes perfect spiritual sense. I believe Leah was prophesying of a coming ‘separation’ within the mindset of the descendants of Jacob, all experiencing their own individual journeys to Christ. And that ‘coming separation’ would require that the individual sojourner ‘gadad’, or separate and cut themselves off, from the domination of their previous familial identity, in order to take their destiny into another direction; a direction that eventually leads them to the Cross of Calvary, and to resurrection out from among the dead. For this is just what was prophesied in Jeremiah 30:7. In this scenario of thought, naming the ‘seventh’ son of Jacob ‘Gad’ speaks volumes.
KJV Genesis 30:11 And Leah said, A troop (separation) cometh: and she called his name Gad.
If Leah was prophesying of a coming separation, an individual coming separation that could and would apply to us all as individuals, that ‘prophecy’ should be confirmed somewhere in the scriptures. I believe that confirmation is revealed in Gen. 49:19. Many recognize that Genesis 49 is the prophetic vision of Jacob, near the end of his life, where he reveals his own vision of the ‘Sons of Jacob’, the twelve sons that will eventually be recognized as Israel. In this narrative, Jacob speaks the vision he has for his own twelve sons, a vision that only a father in his old age could reveal. When Jacob gets to his vision of Gad, the surprise of the millennia is revealed.
KJV Genesis 49:19 “Gad (gadad), a troop (gadad) shall overcome (gadad) him: but he shall overcome (gadad) at the last”. All of these words in brackets are from the root verb ‘gadad’. Remember, this word ‘gadad’ is referring to ‘separation’.
Allow me to translate this verse in my own South Carolina Hebrew descriptions. “Gad (separated); a troop (separation) shall overcome (separate) him: but, he shall overcome (separate himself) at the last.” The wonderful surprise of this verse is revealed in the words translated as “…at the last.” For the words “…at the last” in this verse are translated from one Hebrew word; the word from which we get the name ‘Jacob’. WoW!!! For thousands of years this verse has concealed this mystery: the phrase “…at the last” meant that eventually Gad would overcome by separating himself from his Jacob identity. For ‘Jacob’, as an identity, has to die to self before ‘Israel’ can be realized and expressed. Jacob gives us one sentence to declare about the future manifestation of the legacy of Gad. And in that one brief sentence, Jacob describes the entirety of the message of the Gospel; we must die to self to recognize our Christ Identity. And some say there is no God! Tell that to Gad.
To be continued: ?