Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(REUBEN.)

A proper name which designates in the Bible : (1) a patriarch; (II) a tribe of Israel .

I. THE PATRIARCH

Ruben, Jacob's eldest son ( Genesis 46:8 ; 49:3 ) by Lia, was born in Mesopotamia, and called Ruben ("see ye, a son") as an allusion to Lia's distress because of Jacob's previous dislike of her: "The Lord saw my affliction: now my husband will love me" ( Genesis 29:32 ). Ruben was deprived of his birthright in punishment of an incest which he committed in Chanaan ( Genesis 35:22 ; 49:4 ). It was at his suggestion that instead of killing Joseph, his brothers threw the latter into a pit, whence Ruben vainly hoped to rescue him ( Genesis 37:18-24 ; 37:29-30 ; 42:22 ). When Jacob refused to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt with his brothers, Ruben offered two of his sons as a pledge that Benjamin would be brought back ( Genesis 42:37 ). To these few biblical data concerning Jacob's firstborn, numerous and worthless Haggadic details are added in rabbinical and apocryphal literature.

II. THE TRIBE OF ISRAEL

Situated east of Jordan, and sharing with the tribe of Gad, the original territory of the Amorrhite king, Sehon, between the Arnon and the Jeboc and as far east as Jaser, the border of the Ammonites. The respective lot of Ruben and Gad cannot be given with perfect accuracy, although on the basis of Josue 13:15-23, Ruben's territorial possessions are usually described as on the east of the Dead Sea and Jordan, between Gad on the north and Moab on the south. Among the prominent towns of the Rubenites were Baalmaon, Bethphogor, Cariathaim, Dibon, Hesebon, Jassa, Medaba, and Sabama. During the journey through the wilderness, the tribe of Ruben counted over 40,000 men ( Numbers 1:21 ; 26:7 ) and marched with Gad and Simeon on the south side of Israel. To the same period are referred the rebellion of the Rubenite chiefs, Dathan and Abiron, against Moses, and its signal punishment ( Numbers 16 ; Deuteronomy 11:6 ). After contributing to the conquest of Western Palestine and sharing in the various incidents connected with the erection of a great altar, the descendants of Ruben settled in a district favourable to pastoral pursuits (Numbers 32; Josue 22). Together with the Gadites, they held aloof from the war against Sisara (Judges 5), were smitten by Hazael ( 2 Kings 10:32-3 ), and carried into captivity by Teglathphalasar (734 B.C.). The Rubenites were pre-eminently a pastoral race, little fitted to resist invasion, and several of their cities fell into the hands of Moab long before the tribes east of Jordan were carried captive by the Assyrians (cf. Isaiah 15 ; M ESA ).


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5
1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:1-4
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 24th, 2014 Image

St. Andrew Dung Lac
November 24: Through the missionary efforts of various religious families ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter