oil painting depicting man with chest armor and club-like instrument

Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664)
Gad, ca. 1640–45
Oil on canvas
78 1/2 x 40 9/16 in. (199.4 x 103 cm)
Auckland Castle, County Durham, UK, courtesy Auckland Castle Trust/Zurbarán Trust
© The Auckland Project/Zurbarán Trust; photo Robert LaPrelle

Gad shall be raided by raiders,
but he shall raid at their heels.

“The Blessings of Jacob” (Genesis 49:19)

Born to Jacob and Leah’s handmaid Zilpah (after Leah could no longer bear children), Gad receives a brief blessing of ambiguous meaning. Holding a club and wearing a breastplate, and with a sword attached at his waist, Gad is depicted as a soldier. His turban, tunic, and sash lend his costume a Moorish aspect. Zurbarán based this image on the biblical interpretation of Gad and his tribe as adept in battle. The words in Jacob’s blessing may refer to this trait. Gad has also been seen as a magistrate, based on Moses’s description of him in Deuteronomy 33:21, as executing “the justice of the Lord, and his ordinances for Israel.”

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