- 1. District, mountain, and city east of the Jordan. The name "Gilead" in Gen. xxxi. 48 is explained by popular etymology to mean "heap of witness," in connection with the story of the heap of stones which Laban and Jacob piled up as a sign of their covenant. In the Old Testament "Gilead" sometimes designates a district or mountain, sometimes a city. The mountain of Gilead is found, forinstance, in Deut. iii. 12; Gen. xxxi. 21 et seq.; Cant. iv. 1; comp. vi. 5. The district of Gilead has an undetermined boundary. It often designates in general the land east of the Jordan in so far as it was inhabited by Israelites; e.g., Num. xxxii. 29; Josh. xxii. 9; II Sam. ii. 9; Amos i. 3. Hence, in an ideal sense it includes the northernmost part of the land east of the Jordan as far as Hermon (Deut. xxxiv. 1; comp. the obscure passage in II Kings x. 33, which is probably the result of the combination of several original variant accounts). The same explanation may be given for I Macc. v. 20 et seq., where the regions occupied by Jews north of the Yarmuk are designated as "Gilead." In other places Gilead includes only the territory between the Yarmuk and Moab (i.e., 'Ajlun and the northern Balḳa); thus, for example, Deut. iii. 10; II Kings x. 33. Here the land is called "all the land of Gilead," because it was divided into two parts which were separated by the Jabbok (comp. Deut. iii. 16; Josh. xii. 2). Each of the two parts is called "the half of Gilead" (comp. Deut. iii. 12 et seq.), or simply "Gilead" (e.g., Josh. xii. 6 and elsewhere; Num. xxxii. 1). Sometimes the land of Jazer in the south is explicitly distinguished from Gilead (Num. xxxii. 1; II Sam. xxiv. 5). The inhabitants of Gilead were Reuben, Gad, and a part of Manasseh. Nevertheless, Gilead is mentioned alongside of Reuben in Judges v. 17; of Gad in I Sam. xiv. 7; of Manasseh in Judges xi. 29; Ps. lx. 9 (A. V. 7), cviii. 9 (A. V. 8). It is difficult to decide with which part of the trans-Jordanic land the name "Gilead" was originally associated. At the present day there is a Mount Jal'ad, two hours south of the Jabbok; but this offers no proof of conditions in Biblical times, and the account in Gen. xxxi. argues against such a location.
- 2. City mentioned in Hosea vi. 8, and perhaps in Judges x. 17. It is now identified with the ruins Jal'ud upon the mountain mentioned above.
- Smend, in Stade's Zeitschrift, xxii. 145.