1 Chronicles 5:11–22 (ESV)

11 The sons of Gad lived over against them in the land of Bashan as far as Salecah:

The unit of Gad can be divided into two parts. The first concerns the tribe of Gad (1 Chronicles 5:11–17) while the second deals with the two-and-a-half Transjordan tribes collectively (1 Chronicles 5:18–22). The genealogy of Gad is bracketed on the other side by a geographical reference to Bashan (1 Chronicles 5:11, 1 Chronicles 5:16). The territorial holdings of the tribe are hereby emphasized. Lists of the families are noted in 1 Chronicles 5:13–15, and at the end of this section a citation of source material is recorded. Bashan (1 Chronicles 5:11–16) is the region east of the Sea of Galilee, stretching northwards from the Yarmuk River all the way to Mount Hermon.

The chiefs or the leaders of Gad are unknown in the rest of the Old Testament. The reference to Joel the chief may be similar to the blessing of Moses upon the heads of the people (Deuteronomy 33:21). The genealogy records seven clans, all sons of Abihail (1 Chronicles 5:13–14). Like the seven clans of East Manasseh (1 Chronicles 5:24), these names are unknown elsewhere in the Bible. Those listed in 1 Chronicles 5:14 were the ancestors of Abihail, extending all the way back to Buz. Likewise, Ahi was the forefather of Abihail (1 Chronicles 5:15).1

In Old Testament times, Bashan was an extremely fertile plateau (highland), was well-known for its grain harvests, and served as pasture lands for cattle (Deuteronomy 32:14) and a source of timber (Isaiah 2:13). The desire for control of this highly fertile stretch of land led to repeated warfare between Israel and Aram (which was later known as Syria). Gad’s territory extended up to Salecah (1 Chronicles 5:11), which was a city on the southeastern border of Bashan that was captured by the Israelites from Og of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:10). It was included in the tribal allotment of Gad and Reuben (Joshua 12:5–6). The towns of Bashan (literally, villages) may have been walled cities numbering as many as sixty (1 Kings 4:13). Sharon (1 Chronicles 5:16) is not the well-known coastal plain, but a place mentioned on the Moabite Stone (line 13).2

Like Reuben, Gad also had a minor role in the history of Israel after the establishment of David’s throne (see 1 Samuel 13:7; 2 Samuel 24:5; 1 Chronicles 2:2; 1 Chronicles 5:11, 1 Chronicles 5:16, 1 Chronicles 5:18, 1 Chronicles 5:26; 1 Chronicles 6:63, 1 Chronicles 6:80; Jeremiah 49:1; Ezekiel 48:27–28, Ezekiel 48:34). Consequently, the Chronicler sketched the extent of their land to establish the tribe’s legitimate territorial claims (1 Chronicles 5:11–12, 1 Chronicles 5:16). He also referred to the source of his material as a royal record (1 Chronicles 5:17). This record was probably a military census written in the days of Jotham…and Jeroboam (ca. 750 BC). The Chronicler referred to this military record to demonstrate that the tribe of Gad had a significant role in national life at that time. Gad should not, therefore, be overlooked by the Chronicler’s postexilic readers.3