The meaning of Reuben, Tribe of in the Bible
(From Easton's Bible Dictionary)
at the Exodus numbered 46,500 male adults, from twenty years old and upwards (Numbers 1:20,21), and at the close of the wilderness wanderings they numbered only 43,730 (26:7). This tribe united with that of Gad in asking permission to settle in the "land of Gilead," "on the other side of Jordan" (32:1-5). The lot assigned to Reuben was the smallest of the lots given to the trans-Jordanic tribes. It extended from the Arnon, in the south along the coast of the Dead Sea to its northern end, where the Jordan flows into it (Joshua 13:15-21,23). It thus embraced the original kingdom of Sihon. Reuben is "to the eastern tribes what Simeon is to the western. 'Unstable as water,' he vanishes away into a mere Arabian tribe. 'His men are few;' it is all he can do 'to live and not die.' We hear of nothing beyond the multiplication of their cattle in the land of Gilead, their spoils of 'camels fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand' (I Chronicles 5:9,10,20,21). In the great struggles of the nation he never took part. The complaint against him in the song of Deborah is the summary of his whole history. 'By the streams of Reuben,' i.e., by the fresh streams which descend from the eastern hills into the Jordan and the Dead Sea, on whose banks the Bedouin chiefs met then as now to debate, in the 'streams' of Reuben great were the 'desires'", i.e., resolutions which were never carried out, the people idly resting among their flocks as if it were a time of peace (Judges 5:15,16). Stanley's Sinai and Palestine.
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