Gilead was a mountainous region east of the Jordan River divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, and situated in modern-day Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew (Genesis 31:47). From its mountainous character, it is called the mount of Gilead (Genesis 31:25).
It is called also the land of Gilead (Numbers 32:1, Judges 10:4) in many translations, and sometimes simply Gilead (Genesis 37:25; Judges 10:8; Psalm 60:9). As a whole, it included the tribal territories of Gad, Reuben, and the eastern half of Manasseh (Deuteronomy 3:13; Numbers 32:40). In the Book of Judges, the thirty sons of the biblical judge Jair controlled the thirty towns of Gilead (Judges 10:4), and in the First Book of Chronicles, Segub controlled twenty-three towns in Gilead (1 Chronicles 2:21–22). It was bounded on the north by Bashan, and on the south by Moab and Ammon (Genesis 31:21; Deut 3:12–17).
"Half Gilead" was possessed by Sihon, and the other half, separated from it by the river Jabbok, by Og, king of Bashan. The deep ravine of the river Hieromax (the modern Sheriat el-Mandhur) separated Bashan from Gilead, which was about 60 miles (97 km) in length and 20 miles (32 km) in breadth, extending from near the south end of the Lake of Gennesaret to the north end of the Dead Sea. Abarim, Pisgah, Nebo, and Peor are its mountains mentioned in Scripture.
After king Sihon was defeated, the Tribe of Reuben, Tribe of Gad, and half the Tribe of Manasseh were assigned to the area. Ammon and Moab sometimes expanded to include southern Gilead. King David fled to Mahanaim in Gilead during the rebellion of Absalom. Gilead is later mentioned as the homeplace of the prophet Elijah. King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria says he established the province of Gal'azu (Gilead).
Gilead (Arabic: جلعاد Ǧalʻād) is also used to refer to the mountainous land extending north and south of Jabbok. It is used more generally for the entire region east of the Jordan River. It corresponds today to the northwestern part of the Kingdom of Jordan.
Gilead may also refer to:
- A grandson of Manasseh and son of Machir (Makir), ancestor of the Iezerites and Helekites and of Segub (Numbers 26:28-30 and 1 Chronicles 2:21);
- The son of Michael and father of Jaroah, in the Gadite genealogies (1 Chronicles 5:11-14);
- The father of Jephthah (Judges 11:1).
In Israeli Hebrew, גלעד (transcribed Gilad or Ghil'ad) is used as a male given name and is often analysed as deriving from גיל (gil) "happiness, joy" and עד (ad) "eternity, forever"; i.e. "eternal happiness".
- Balm of Gilead
- Gilead is the theocratic nation which replaces the United States in Margaret Atwood's dystopic novel The Handmaid's Tale.
- The first title of a multi-generational trilogy by Marilynne Robinson. The story is about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. The title of the trilogy comes from the fictional setting of the town in the novel, Gilead (novel), Iowa.