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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names


By Jeff A. Benner

And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son. And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. (KJV, Genesis 30:10,11)

The Hebrew translated as "a troop cometh" is בגד (begad) which is the word גד (gad) meaning "fortune" and the prefix ב (be) meaning "in." So, how does the King James Version get "a troop cometh" out of "in fortune?" First, the KJV translators created their translation almost 400 years ago and since that time much more of the Hebrew language has been learned through etymology and linguistics. Secondly, many translators believe that the word בגד (begad) is an error and was originally written as two words – גד בא (bo gad) meaning "fortune comes." Leah chose this word גד (gad) for her son because of her good "fortune" of having been given another son.

I would also like to point out that the name of the Babylonian god of fortune is gad. The language of Babylon was Aramaic, a sister language to Hebrew. The Hebrew vowel "a" is not pronounced like the "a" in bad (contrary to the way most of us pronounce this name) but like the "a" in father. Therefore, the Hebrew/Aramaic word/name gad is pronounced like our English word "god." It is very likely that our word "god" comes from the Hebrew/Aramaic word גד (gad).

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