Tribe of Reuben
Reuben, meaning "see ye a son", is the firstborn of Jacob and Leah. Jacob was the
second son of Rebekah and Isaac. Jacob loved Rachel, the youngest daughter of
Laban. Jacob promised to serve Laban seven years for Rachel. Completing the
seven years Jacob expected to marry Rachel, but was tricked to marry Leah, the
older daughter. Zilpah was the hand maid sent with Leah. Jacob worked another
seven years to marry Rachel and her handmaid Bilah. (Genesis 29:15-30).
The LORD say that Leah was hated and Leah conceived, and bore Reuben and said surely the LORD has looked upon my affliction. Leah believed Jacob, her husband, would love her. (Genesis 29:31-32).
The LORD changed Jacob’s name to Israel after he wrestled with God. Jacob was called Israel because he was a prince and has power with God and with men, and prevailed. (Genesis 32:24-32). The message that Jacob gave to Reuben was “3. Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4. Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.” (Genesis 49:3-4).
While at Bethel Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, died in child birth. While Jacob, Israel, mourned Reuben went and laid with Bilhah his father’s concubine. Because Reuben defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to Joseph the first born of Rachel and Jacob. The sons of Reuben were Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. (Genesis 35:22; Genesis 46:9; 1 Chronicles 5:1-3).
Jacob, Israel, lived in the land of Canaan. The LORD changed Jacob’s name to Israel after he wrestled with God. Jacob was called Israel because he was a prince and has power with God and with men, and prevailed. (Genesis 32:24-32). Joseph was greatly loved by his father more than all the other children. This caused hard feelings toward Joseph with the other sons. The other sons plotted to slay Joseph. It was Reuben who delivered Joseph from being killed, but instead cast him into a pit in the wilderness without water. It was Judah who lifted Joseph out of the out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver and eventually Joseph ended up in Egypt. (Genesis 37:12-36).
Reuben and his brothers were reunited with Joseph years later when the whole of the land were suffering from famine. Joseph was the governor over Egypt and was the only land that had food. Jacob sent his ten sons into Egypt to buy corn. Benjamine, the brother of Joseph, stayed behind. When the brothers were held by Joseph as spies Benjamine and his father were sent for and the family was reunited and the family moved to Egypt. (Genesis 42:1-46:1-34).
When the wandering in the wilderness was over the tribes divided the land. The children of Reuben and the children of Gad made a covenant with Moses so they could occupy the grazing land of Gilead east of Jordan. Moses gave unto the children of Gad, the children of Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh, the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon the king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about. The children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim. (Number 32:1-38). Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance the coast from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba; Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, Bamothbaal, Bethbaalmeon, Jahazah, Kedemoth, Mephaath, Kirjathaim, Sibmah, Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley, Bethpeor, Ashdothpisgah, Bethjeshimoth, all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon. The border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof. (Joshua 13:15-23).
Once the rest of the land had been conquered the children of Reuben, Gad, the half tribe of Manasseh returned to their land given to them, and departed from the Shiloh, in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession. And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh built a great altar by Jordan. This act was seen as an act of rebellion and trespass against the LORD to the remaining tribes. The remaining tribes believed the LORD had made Jordan a border between them. The children of Reuben and of Gad had no part in the LORD. They would make the other children stop from fearing the LORD. They were will to go to war before the children of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh convinced Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, they were not rebelling against the LORD GOD. The children of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh then called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God. (Joshua 22:10-34).
The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war. (1 Chronicles 5:18).
Moses blessed the children of Israel before his death. The blessing given to Reuben was “Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.”(Deuteronomy 33:6).