Today’s names are ‘Naphtali’ and ‘Gad.’
You may remember what happened before the births of Shimeon and Reuben, his older brother. Jacob, who wanted to marry Rachel and worked for 7 years to win her, was cheated by her father, Laban, who gave him at the wedding night his other daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. He was forced to serve Laban for 7 more years for the right to marry Rachel, whom he loved. According to the Hebrew Bible, Leah was hated by Jacob, but God opened her womb and gave her five sons, while Rachel was still barren.
“And Rachel said, ‘With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed’; and she called his name Naphtali”
A better translation for this name than ‘wrestlings’ is either ‘twistedness’; ‘entanglement’; ‘vicissitudes’ and even ‘crookedness’ (naf•tu•lim).
‘Wrestlings,’ as we mentioned in a previous Hebrew Word of the Day, relates to the name ‘Israel.’ See this email or check out Genesis 32:29 where it says ‘sa•ri•ta eem Elohim.’ Sa•ri•ta means ‘wrestle’ and it also reflects the struggle Jacob had with God.
‘And Leah said, Fortune has come; and she called his name Gad.’
Here, the English translation is correct: Gad means luck, fortune or success. The second verse that relates to Gad’s name offers an array of close words written as a pun that the English text misses altogether:
‘Gad ge•dood ye•gu•de•nu ve•hoo ya•gud a•kev.’ ‘Gad, a troop shall overcome him; but he shall overcome at the last.’
Look at the bold letters in the line above and try to read it out-loud. It leaves little doubt about the Bible narrative that makes Gad’s name a pun! Each highlighted word reminds in its sound the name Gad. It is possible that because of Gad’s proximity to the word troop ‘ge•dood,’ it may reflect an ancient forgotten meaning that relates military traits in his name.