Gad and Asher

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, Jacob, Men in the Old Testament

  • When Leah stops bearing children and Rachel’s maidservant has delivered two sons, Leah gives her maidservant to Jacob.
  • Zilpah has two sons, Gad and Asher.
  • Gad’s name means, “good fortune.”
  • He is Jacob’s seventh son and the ancestor of the Tribe of Gad.
  • Gad has seven sons: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Iri, Arodi and Areli.
  • Jacob’s deathbed blessing for Gad states, “He will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.”
  • During the time of the wilderness the Tribe of Gad decreased from 45,650 to 40,500.
  • Gad is one of the tribes that settle on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
  • They see that the land is good for grazing cattle and want this for their allocation of land.
  • They approach Moses with their plan.
  • At first Moses presumes this is another rebellion, but they promise to help the other tribes with the conquest of Canaan.
  • To make good on their word, they take the lead in battles.
  • 1 Chronicles 12:8ff describes them as being: “mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and who were swift as gazelles on the mountains.”
  • Before they return home, Joshua cautions them about remaining faithful to God.
  • As soon as they get home, they erect a large altar near the Jordan.
  • The rest of the tribes presume they are already being unfaithful and want to go to war against them.
  • Phinehas, the priest, and an elder from each tribe go to them to accuse them.
  • The eastern tribes are dumbfounded. They built the altar to remind the western tribes of their solidarity with the east, not to offer sacrifices or worship.
  • The altar will be a witness between east and west and all the generations that follow.
  • They have no intention to rebel against the Lord.
  • Their answer pleases Phinehas and the elders. There is no more talk about war against them.
  • The eastern tribes name the altar, “A Witness Between Us – that the Lord is God.”
  • Afterwards, they build fortified cities and increase their flocks.
  • Though they participate in the conquest of the Promised Land and remain faithful to God, their location is never secure from invaders and attacks. The Moabites live to the south. The Assyrians are north and east.
  • After the death of Solomon, the tribe of Gad is a member of the northern kingdom.
  • The Assyrians invade their territory in 723 BCE and add them to their province.
  • The Ammonites move in, and eventually, the inhabitants are taken captive.
  • Asher is Jacob’s eighth son. His name means “happiness.”
  • Upon his birth, Leah says, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.”
  • He is the progenitor of the Tribe of Asher.
  • Asher is the father of four sons: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah.
  • He also has a daughter, Serah, who is the only granddaughter listed among Jacob’s descendants.
  • Serah might have been Asher’s adopted daughter by his second wife, a widow. But Asher always treats her as his own daughter.
  • According to rabbinic literature, Asher informs his brothers about Reuben’s affair with Bilhah.
  • Initially, the other brothers turn against Asher, but after Reuben confesses, they realize they were unjust.
  • According to the rabbis, Asher is the peacekeeper among the brothers.
  • In the Apocryphal book, the Testament of the Patriarchs, Asher is portrayed as an example of a virtuous man working only for good.
  • Jacob’s deathbed blessing for Asher is: “His food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.” He predicts great wealth for the Tribe of Asher.
  • Both Gad and Asher and their families travel to Egypt with Jacob during the famine.
  • During the time of the wilderness, the Tribe of Asher increases from 41,500 to 53,400.
  • The Tribe of Asher settles along the Mediterranean shore in a very fertile area.
  • In years of famine, the tribe is able to supply all of Israel with olive oil.
  • The Asherites are also renowned for their wisdom.
  • Yet, they fail to rid the land of the Canaanites, which means they must live among them.
  • They also refuse to fight against the Canaanites during the time of Deborah.
  • Some scholars think they don’t want to upset the people with whom they are doing business.
  • In any event, their behavior is not admired.
  • The Assyrians conquer them in 723 BCE and wipe them out.

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