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Reuben

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The Oxford Companion to the Bible What is This? Provides authoritative interpretive entries on Biblical people, places, beliefs, events, and secular influences.

    Reuben

    The firstborn son of Jacob and Leah and one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen. 29.32). Reuben's primogeniture indicates that in early Israel Reuben was a preeminent tribe (Gen. 46.8–9; Exod. 6.14–16). Reuben is guilty of incest with his mother's concubine Bilhah (Gen. 35.22) and is prominent in the rebellion against Moses (Num. 16.1); the former is blamed for Reuben's later decline (Gen. 49.3–4; 1 Chron. 5.1–2). The Reubenites, together with Gad, settle in the Transjordan (Num 32.25–38). An early manuscript of the books of Samuel among the Dead Sea Scrolls mentions Reuben and Gad's subjugation by Nahash, king of the Ammonites, elucidating Saul's deliverance of Jabesh‐gilead (1 Samuel 10.27). Scholars disagree whether Reuben was absorbed into Gad during the divided monarchy (2 Kings 10.33) or retained its identity (1 Chron. 5.22) until the Assyrian conquest (732 BCE).

    Gary N. Knoppers

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    Oxford University Press

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