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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Nave's Topical Bible
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Balm of Gilead: & Perfumes
Gilead & Gilboa
• Easton's Bible Dictionary
Gilead, Balm of
• Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Ramoth Gilead
• Hitchcock's Bible Names
• Smith's Bible Dictionary
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Balm of Gilead
Gilead (1)
Gilead (2)
Gilead, Balm of
Gilead, Mount
Hebrew - Jabeshgilead, Jabesh-gilead
Hebrew - Gilead, Gileadites, Jabeshgilead, Ramothgilead, Gilead's, Jabesh-gilead
Hebrew - Ramothgilead, Ramoth-gilead

(gihl' ih uhd) Place and personal name meaning, “raw” or “rugged.” 1. The north-central section of the transjordanian highlands. The name may originally have applied to a very small area. The usage of the name then grew and could be applied in different contexts depending on present political situations. Compare Judges 10:17; Hosea 6:8. It occupies the mountain slopes and tableland east of the Jordan, northeast of the Dead Sea. Gilead is bisected by the Jabbok River; in Old Testament times the kingdom of Ammon occupied its eastern fringe. It was often contested by other nations (Amos 1:3). Gilead extends about 50 miles from southern Heshbon not quite to the Yarmuk River in the north. Its east-west extent is about twenty miles.

Physically, Gilead is a rugged country; the Hebrew name Gil' ad may be translated “rugged.” Some of its peaks reach over 3500 feet. It also has plains with grassland suitable for cattle, and in antiquity the northern half of the region particularly was heavily forested. The King Highway, an important international trade route, passed through Gilead. Gilead was an agriculturally significant region as well. It was famous especially for its flocks and herds, and also for the balm of Gilead, an aromatic and medicinal preparation, probably derived from the resin of a small balsam tree.

Many famous persons and events are associated with Gilead. The judges Jair and Jephthah (Judges 11:1), Israel's King Jehu, and the prophet Elijah were all Gileadites. Jacob and Laban met at its northeastern border (Genesis 31:22-23). Jacob encountered the angel of God at Peniel in Gilead (Genesis 32:30). Saul's son Ish-bosheth (2 Samuel 2:8), David (2 Samuel 17:24), and Jesus all retreated to Gilead for a time. Old Testament cities of importance were Heshbon in the south, Rabboth-ammon on the eastern desert fringe, Jabesh-gilead, and Ramoth-gilead. Rabboth-ammon is the New Testament Philadelphia; Pella and Jerash (Gerasa) are other important New Testament cities.

2. Great grandson of Joseph and original clan leader in tribe of Manasseh (Numbers 26:28-32; Numbers 36:1). The clan was so strong it could be listed with Israel's tribes in Deborah's song (Judges 5:17). They fought for recognition among other tribes (Judges 12:4-7).

Joseph Coleson

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'GILEAD'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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