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Son of Jacob and Leah (Gen. 29: 32), and ancestor of the tribe of Reuben. The story of Reuben, the first-born son whose behaviour (Gen. 35: 22) led to his losing the right attaching to that position (Gen. 49: 3–4) is in fact the story of the tribe told in the person of the founder: once pre-eminent, the Reubenites (Gen. 49: 4) lost their power to the tribes of Judah and Joseph. Reuben is mentioned first in the blessing of Moses (Deut. 33: 6) but in the Song of Deborah (Judg. 5: 15–16) Reubenites refuse to join the campaign against Sisera and are reproved. Settled in the Transjordan with the tribe of Gad (Num. 32: 33), the Reubenites may have become absorbed into that tribe (2 Kgs. 10: 33) until overcome by the Assyrian invasion of 732 bce.

Subjects: Biblical Studies.

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