CAN YOU EXPLAIN “GADDEST THOU ABOUT?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
“Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria” (Jeremiah 2:36). What does “gaddest thou about” mean?
This term “gad” possibly came to us from the Middle English “gadden,” associated with “gadeling” (“companion in arms, fellow”). During the 16th century, it took on the meaning “vagabond, wanderer.” Therefore, to “gad about” means “go back and forth, travel to and fro, move relentlessly or aimlessly from one place to another.” In this context, Judah (the Southern Kingdom) is frantically seeking help from neighboring Gentiles in order to escape God’s punishment on her for her sins: “ Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.  Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.”
According to historians, during this time, Pharaoh Psammetich II (663-610 B.C.) had liberated Egypt from Assyria while Assyrian King Ashurbanipal was fighting civil wars. Similarly, the Kingdom of Judah surmised Egypt would be a great ally in fending off Assyrian troops in southern Israel. Alas, the LORD through Jeremiah advised Judah that recruiting military aid from Egypt would be futile or fruitless. Instead of trying to escape the chastisement, Judah should have learned its lesson and come back to JEHOVAH God in faith. Read Jeremiah chapter 2, noting the pagan idolatry in Judah, what caused the LORD to inspire Gentiles to attack Judah.
Israel (Northern Kingdom) had sought assistance from the Assyrians, to no avail: “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13). Also, Israel had enlisted help from the Egyptians by bartering olive oil: “Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt” (Hosea 12:1). “ Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:  That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!  Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion” (Isaiah 30:1-3).
Whereas Israel had foolishly relied on Assyria and Egypt (disappointments), Judah was counselled in Jeremiah to be wise. Years before Jeremiah, evil Ahaz (King of Judah) had repeated Israel’s sin: “ At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.  For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.  The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Bethshemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there.  For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.  And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not.  For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not” (2 Chronicles 28:16-21).
Years after the Prophet Jeremiah began his ministry, King Zedekiah of Judah repeated Israel’s sin and Ahaz’ sin: “ Then came the word of the LORD unto the prophet Jeremiah saying,  Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.  And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.  Thus saith the LORD; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart” (Jeremiah 37:6-9). As history testifies, Egypt ultimately was of no help to Judah and the Babylonian armies overran and destroyed wicked Jerusalem exactly as the LORD foretold.
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8).