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Reuben, from the Hebrew name pronounced reh-oo-bane, was the firstborn son of Jacob/Israel and Leah, the grandson of Isaac and Rebekah, and the great-grandson of Abraham and Sarah. Reuben is the origin of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Reubenites.

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  • Reuben was Jacob/Israel's actual firstborn from among the 2 wives and 2 concubines in the family (Genesis 29:32), and as such would have inherited all of the natural rights of primogeniture. His foremost inheritance position was transferred to Joseph however (1 Chronicles 5:1), after an incident with Bilhah, one of his father's concubines (Genesis 35:22)

  • When Joseph's jealous brothers plotted to kill him out in the desert (see Coat Of Many Colors), it was Reuben who saved his younger brother's life from them (Genesis 37:21-22), however before he could return Joseph home, the others sold him to Midianite merchants who were on their way to Egypt (Genesis 37:28) (see The Ancient Egyptians and Egyptian Pharaohs). It was this incident that caused the other Israelites to later settle in Egypt where they became slaves until the Exodus.

  • When the Israelites settled in Egypt to escape the famine, Reuben took 4 sons with him (Genesis 46:9). When the Exodus took place 400 years later, the Reubenites totaled 151,450 (Numbers 1:21, 2:16) (see Growth Of A Nation).

  • After the Exodus, the Reubenites made a covenant with Moses to occupy an area of Gilead, east of The Jordan River and The Dead Sea (Numbers 32:1-33). (see Division Of The Land and Tribal Lands).

  • The Reubenites became a powerful tribe (1 Chronicles 5:1-19) who later sent a large force to support King David (1 Chronicles 12:37)

  • The Reubenites were oppressed in the time of Jehu (2 Kings 10:32-34) (see Kings of Israel and Judah), and were later taken into captivity by Tiglath-pileser of Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:25-26) (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) where they, along with the others of the northern kingdom, became one of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.

Fact Finder: What were the names of the 4 sons that Reuben took to Egypt?
Genesis 46:9

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