Situated in modern-day Jordan, Gilead is a place-name meaning “raw” or “rugged”. It is often referred to as “the mount of Gilead”, “the land of Gilead”, or simply Gilead. The name originally applied to a very small area but grew and could be applied in different contexts.
Gilead is used more generally for the entire region east of the Jordan River. It occupies the mountain slope east of Jordan, northeast of the Dead Sea. At one time it was believed to be densely forested. The name Gilead first appears in the biblical account of the last meeting of Jacob and Genesis (Genesis 31:21-22).
In Old Testament times, the kingdom of Ammon occupied its eastern fringe. Later it was occupied by the tribes of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben. The King’s Highway, an important trade route, passed through the area. Within the area was likely a city by the same name.