It seemed I was never going to get back to a kid story, didn't it? There are only 13 children to write about so that leaves 13 other letters to fill the empty slots. The rest of the month's post will continue to be scattered with stories about Jacob's children, a descendant or two, and a few behaviors to round out this years challenge. I do love words, so there are a few waiting to be explored before the month is over.
Today's post is about Gad, the seventh son born to Jacob. Gad's birth mother was Zilpah, the servant of Leah. I assume Gad was the first son born to Zilpah but the fifth son Leah claimed as her own, but that is just an assumption.
By the way, I had to update my own cheat sheet as I had to stop and think about who was born around Gad's birth. So there is now a birth order list at the bottom of the cheat sheet if you are having the same frustration as me.
At any rate.....
Gad's name means good fortune and when he was born, Leah said, "What good fortune!" He was born after Naphtali and before Asher, right smack dab in the middle. I always wonder about those middle children of large families. The baby of the family status probably seems a sure thing to those on the outside looking in, but then along come another two, or three, or six more babies to steal the limelight! No wonder we don't know a lot about those middle children of Jacob. They do get lost in the shuffle. (I know there are some middle children right now who agree with what I just wrote. I have one of my own who is nodding her head).
So anyway, back to Gad. Even though the middle children of Jacob were middle children, they still were known by their father. Their behaviors and personalities were not left unseen by a father who was dealing with multiple women, on top of farming and shepherding. As unseen as many middle children feel they are, Jacob studied his children enough to prophecy about them at his death. He said to Gad as he lay dying, "Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels."
Moses blessed Gad's descendants when he said, "Blessed is he who enlarges Gad's domain. Gad lives there like a lion, tearing at arm or head. He chose the best land for himself; the leader's portion was kept for him. When the heads of the people assembled, he carried out the LORD's righteous will, and his judgments concerning Israel."
During the first census after leaving Egypt, the descendants of Gad numbered 45, 650 men 20 years old and older. In the second census they numbered 40,500.
Gad was the 7th son born to Jacob, but when each tribe made an offering to the dedication of the tabernacle, the family of Gad brought their offering on the sixth day.
The tribe of Gad marched sixth in the desert, right in the middle, and they camped on the south side of the tabernacle when the children of Israel stopped. Ezekiel prophesied that Gad's gate will be on the western wall in heaven.
We don't know that Gad was Zilpah's firstborn son as fact, it is only an assumption. But if Gad was Zilpah's firstborn son, but part of Jacob's middle brood, I wonder what it was like for Zilpah to hand over her first baby to her mistress who already had more than enough. She had been given the duty, by Leah, to sleep with Jacob because Leah was stressing over the fact that Rachel/Bilhah were giving Jacob children and she no longer was having her own, on her own. (Sort of like a previous generation when Sarai handed over her servant Hagar to her husband Abram, Jacob's grandpa.)
Leah already had given Jacob four sons, yet Jacob still had not grown to love Leah like he loved her sister, Rachel. And Zilpah was the pawn. Asher had not yet been born, perhaps her only son was used to settle a score. And then another.
So many layers, but I'll close with this:
I wonder what Jacob observed about Gad growing up that caused him to say what he said to him. Was that a compliment or a criticism? Did Gad the boy, not the tribe, get attacked by a band of raiders? Moses' words seem to indicate a generational bent towards leadership and doing what needs to be done to get what is his.
So many "I wonders, " isn't there?
What did your family say of you when you were born? What will be said of you when you die? What do you hope is said of you? Were you first born, middle, or the baby of the family? How do you think your place in your family birth order affected your personality?
No matter your place in your family, you were first loved by God. Planned by God. Created by God and every day of your life written before one of them came to be.
There are recorded victories of the Gadites in 1 Chronicles 5:18-22; 12:8-15.
The tribe bearing Gad's name requested land on the east side of the Jordan when the Israelites took the land first promised to Abraham. The tribe of Reuben also requested to stay in the fertile territory away from the rest of the tribes of Jacob's ancestors. It may not have been the better choice,e as Gad's tribe endured much suffering from hostile people such as the Ammonites and Midianites which surrounded them. Perhaps the band of raiders were among these people.
Psalm 144:1-2; Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:14