Reuven is the firstborn son of Jacob and Leah and father of the
tribe of Reuven, one of the twelve
tribes of Israel.
The name Reuven comes from the Hebrew meaning: “Look,
a son.” He appears in the story of the mandrakes as the one giving
them to his mother (Genesis
30:14). Reuven has relations with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah, angering
Jacob and probably contributing to the curse of Reuven on Jacob’s deathbed
(Genesis 49:4). He succeeded
in convincing his brothers not to kill Joseph but to trap him inside of a pit instead, to which he intended to return and rescue Joseph (Genesis
37:22). Later, when the family journeys to Egypt during the famine,
he attempts to persuade his father that he should take responsibility
for Benjamin while in
Egypt (Genesis 42:37).
The tribe of Reuven settled east of the Jordan River
and agreed to join the other tribes in the war against the Philistines.
Sources: Bridger, David. Ed. The
New Jewish Encyclopedia, NY: Behrman House, 1976; Navigating
the Bible II