Bible Studies,  The Tribes Of Israel

The Tribe Of Reuben

Genesis 49:3-4 ESV

3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,

preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.

4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!

The word might is used to describe Reuben. It means force, either for good or for bad. Reuben knew the consequences of both, he had experienced the results of his actions, again, both good and bad. Yet, he would end his days in the company of his brothers, having repented of his past, and looking ahead to the future of his family.

Two people prophesied about the tribes before their death, the Prince, and the Prophet, Jacob and Moses. One spoke to Reuben’s past, the other spoke to his future. His sins were mentioned, and what they cost him, but his redemption was spoken, and how he should react.

In Jacob’s recounting, Simeon and Levi were mentioned between Reuben and Judah. Moses placed Reuben and Judah back to back, then speaks of Levi. The Prophet didn’t speak of Simeon in this chapter.

Mr Strong’s concordance will tell you, Simeon’s name means hearing. Levi is the tribe of Priesthood. Judah means Praise. Reuben literally means Behold a son. When you behold The Son Of God, truly hear His word, and accept His Priestly Sacrifice, there will be Praise in your heart. After this, no one will hear of your past, you have a new life to live!

To me, this is the promise of Reuben. I’ve always felt sorry for Reuben. Yes he sinned, and no I’m not defending it, but I remember my own failures, so I don’t judge. I guess it’s because of the embarrassment he had to feel, at Jacob’s bedside, but it always stood out to me, of how painful that must have been. I’m so glad that God turns sorrow into joy.

Jacob loved his son, and I’m sure forgave, but did not forget. Aren’t you glad that our Heavenly Father both forgives and forgets! Reuben was redeemed, not by his earthly parent’s condemnation, but by His Heavenly Father’s Mercy.

Deuteronomy 33:6-7 KJV

6 Let Reuben (Behold A Son) live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

7 And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

Deuteronomy 33:6-7 ESV

6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few.”

7 And this he said of Judah: “Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.”

Moses also had a reason to resent the family of Reuben also. It was two of the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, who joined with Korah the Levite, in rebellion to Moses. Yet, Moses took a different viewpoint of Reuben than Jacob had.

What fascinates me, beyond Moses’ compassion, was his statement. While it’s true that, he was addressing two tribes, the way he says it, and who was speaking, so intrigues me.

Moses was a type and shadow of Christ. He says Let Reuben live, and not die, and let not his men be few, and the very next breath, he speaks something else to it. And this is the blessing of Judah. Yes, he’s going to go on to speak of Judah, but what if we read it this way?

Let Reuben (Behold a son) live, and not die… this is the blessing of Judah” Does this not remind you of For Unto Us A Son is born…? I don’t believe the word “and” here is a coincidence. I believe God was showing that, if like Reuben, you mess up, there is One who can change your situation.

As for whether the KJV is more accurate about let not his men be few, or the ESV IS, on let his men be few, I would say to this. Whether in this life, you prosper, or falter, if you can find the hope of Jacob, and The Promise of Moses, Jesus will either make your little much, or bless your overflow with joy!

Moses also had another encounter in Numbers 32 with the Reubenites that showed the there were those in the tribe with a different spirit than Dathan and Abiram, along with the Gadites. They wanted to inherit the land Israel had taken on the side of Jordan before crossing over, but they knew they would still need to be a part of the battle for the other tribe’s inheritance.

Numbers 32:17-22 KJV

17 But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.

18 We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.

19 For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.

20 And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the Lord to war,

21 And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the Lord, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,

22 And the land be subdued before the Lord: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the Lord, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord.

There will be battles you fight, not for a blessing, but as part of the body. We fight together, not always for us, not always for our brother, but because we are all part of the family of God. Some battles we stand for, are the cause of God, some for our brothers and sisters dear to us, a few for our own inheritance, and some as part of the congregation.

If your Church is attacked, if someone is talking about your Pastor, or gossiping in the Church, it is your duty to fight. Call out to God, speak to the Man Of God, and tell whoever is gossiping or backbiting, that you refuse to be a part of it.  If Dathan and Abiram had withstood Korah, they would have a far different story than being swallowed up for their own rebellion.

You’re part of something much more important than your own comfort. The Reubenites knew it was a time for war, so that all the family of God could receive what they had been blessed with. Fight for what is right, it will produce more than running, or being quiet ever could.

Joshua 15:6 ESV

And the boundary goes up to Beth-hoglah and passes along north of Beth-arabah. And the boundary goes up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben.

One of the Reubenites who fought, and most likely died in battle, was Bohan. While commentators have different opinions, some believe this stone that is referenced, is the burial marker of Bohan. It’s possible that he gave his life in the battle for Canaan, and this was a memorial for him.

If commentators are right, Bohan made the ultimate sacrifice, and would never be forgotten by those he fought for. His memorial being part of the border between Judah and Benjamin. May we never forget the sacrifices of the soldiers of the cross, who have paved the way we enjoy today.

1 Chronicles 11:42 ESV

42 Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a leader of the Reubenites, and thirty with him,

Another soldier in the family of Reuben, though generations later than the taking of Canaan, was Adina , the son of Shiza. He gets one verse in the entire Scriptures, yet it tells us the following. He was with David, he was the son of Shiza, was a leader of Reuben, and the Reubenites were with him.

First of all, he was in the right company. If you were to pick anyone in The Word Of God to follow, David would be in the top five. Verse ten doesn’t mention the son of Shiza by name, but sheds light on the group Adina is a part of.

1 Chronicles 11:10 ESV

10 Now these are the chiefs of David’s mighty men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.

Adina had chosen to follow David. It was the right choice, but the question is, how did he know to make this choice. I believe it has a lot to do with the meaning of his name.

We know that a name to the Hebrew language, and especially in The Bible, is more than just a monogram.  It is chosen purposely, and either reflects, or shapes the character of the owner of it.  In this case, I feel that it reflects, much like the fashioning of a piece of jewelry, the making of a man.

Adina means adorned.  It’s the same word used to put on ornaments.  The only thing we know about that name, is that his Father, Shiza is mentioned in conjunction.  I believe that Shiza and his wife, chose the name for their son, because they wanted him to carry on what they had put inside him.

Shiza, means splendor. There was something about this family, that caused them to choose, not what was easy, but what was right. Verse ten did not say, they chose David after he became king, but they gave him strong support, with all Israel, to make him King.

They threw all of their weight, all of their value, and all of their splendor behind David.  This was the stock that Adina came from.  This, I believe, was why he chose to lead his tribe in following David.  Obviously, this is my view, but it is my observation that, there had to be something valuable in this family, to recognize God’s Anointed.

I know this, and it is not opinion.  You can be poor, you can be rich, you can be destitute, or famous, but if you know enough to follow God’s Anointed, then you will be okay.  God always chooses someone to lead His people, and He confirms the choice.  Then he directs the people of God to be faithful to that leader, in every battle they face.

If you see that God has put someone in your life to Pastor you, follow that person, period. Do not allow circumstance, coincidence, your pride, or situation, to separate you from the one that God has placed in your life. That’s how another family of Reubenites, led by Dathan and Abiram, caused the death of their entire family group, within the Reubenites.

However, the family of Adina and Shiza before him, made choices that led to life, and not death.  God sets before us life and death, it is our choice what we choose, but if we choose to follow the Man Of God, we will come out successful, and like I said, that’s not opinion, it’s fact.

Joshua 22:34 KJV

34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the Lord is God.

Adina’s ancestors knew the importance of choice. This is why, for generations, at the bank of the Jordan, the border between the tribes on the one side of the river, and the Reubenites, Gadites, and the tribe of Manasseh, was an altar. In the King James, the name of the altar, was Ed.

It means witness, or testimony, or a recorder, or prince. The ESV, which I also love, called it Witness. As a young man though, I never forgot the altar called Ed.  In the midst of so many names that I couldn’t pronounce, I was intrigued by Ed.

Ed was an altar that was never meant to be used for sacrifice. It was more than a decoration, it was an insurance policy. The three groups were afraid that, one day, the other tribes would treat them as outsiders. So they built Ed as a testimony, showing the relationship with God they and the other tribes shared.

In this day and age, there are a lot of different opinions in the Church, but if we share the Gospel of the Death, Burial , and Resurrection, as Abraham once said to Lot, we be brethren.  I’m not encouraging either compromise, or even agreement, but I am a champion of fellowship. You can worship with someone who believes in The Gospel, even if they have a different view on what the prophecies of Revelation mean for example.

Reuben was almost always connected with someone else. We rarely see this tribe stand alone. In Ezekiel, they are mentioned with Judah and Levi, and in Revelation with Judah and Gad.

Praise (Judah), Priesthood (Levi), and a troop of warriors (Gad). The victories you experience, will many times, be determined by the company you keep! The tribe of Reuben found victory, not dwelling on their failures, but in The Presence Of God, under the leadership of His Leaders, and in fellowship with the people of God.

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